PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A crowd gathered in Vancouver Sunday afternoon to protest the death of Kevin Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old Black man from Camas who was fatally shot by Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Oct. 29.
The event was a vigil and peaceful march for justice.
Demonstrators met at the US Bank on NE Highway 99, where Peterson was killed, at 1 p.m. and marched down the highway while chanting “Black Lives Matter.”
There was a second group who attended the event. They stood off to the side and did not participate in the main event. At least two people in this second group were armed.
A KOIN 6 News photographer at the scene said there were a lot of volunteers at the event who separated the groups and directed the march.
Sunny Wonder lives in Vancouver and said she brought her kids to the march to show them what solidarity looks like.
“We’re not going to see change until we’re working together… and that means that I need to be here,” Wonder said. “It doesn’t mean that my voice needs to be represented, necessarily, but that I need to step back and support others.”
She and others at the march said they want the deputies involved in the shooting to be held accountable for Peterson’s death and they want officers to de-escalate situations better before they turn deadly.
Wonder said she also wants to push back against hate groups that she believes are prevalent in Vancouver.
Law enforcement released a video of deputies shooting Peterson on Nov. 25 and said the case file will be forwarded to the prosecuting attorney for review. The case will be reviewed by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
Officers with the regional drug task force were investigating Peterson for conspiracy to deliver controlled substances, according to court documents. Peterson was reportedly in contact with a confidential informant who tipped off authorities about Peterson’s plans to sell the informant 50 Xanax pills. The sale was set to take place at about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 29 at the Quality Inn at 7001 NE Highway 99, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Detectives in unmarked cars activated their emergency lights and attempted to stop Peterson when he pulled into the Quality Inn parking lot, according to investigators, who added the detectives were wearing “tactical vests bearing law enforcement identification.”
Peterson fled on foot, detectives ordered him to stop, but he continued and dropped a handgun, according to SWIRT investigators. Detectives allegedly ordered him not to pick up the gun, but Peterson did and continued to run. Detectives did not pursue further, but advised other units by radio that Peterson was armed, investigators said.
As Peterson crossed the U.S. Bank property, deputies allegedly arrived and ordered him to stop. One deputy said Peterson pulled a handgun out of his sweatshirt pocket. The deputy said he ordered Peterson to drop the gun, but the other man kept walking. The deputy said he fired at Peterson as the man continued toward incoming units, according to investigators.
Another deputy said Peterson pointed the gun at him “while running northbound,” prompting him to fire at Peterson. Video from the bank showed Peterson fall, then sit up and point the gun, according to investigators.
Deputies again fired at Peterson and gave commands to drop the gun, according to the SWIRT report. Peterson “eventually set the handgun down,” but continued to “make some movements,” investigators said. Deputies allegedly called for more units to approach Peterson with a shield due to him having a handgun within reach.
About five minutes after shots were fired, deputies rendered first aid to Peterson, according to the SWIRT report.
Peterson was in possession of a Glock model 23 handgun that had one round chambered and one round missing from the magazine, according to investigators. At this time, detectives do not have evidence that Peterson fired the gun while in the U.S. Bank lot, according to the SWIRT report.
Peterson Jr.’s father Kevin released a statement through an attorney after the release of the video.
“Kevin recently became a father. He was excited about fatherhood. The Sheriff and others lied when they said Kevin shot at officers. Now we see the video, and Kevin’s back was toward the officers, but they shot him anyway. They chased him down, trapped him, and killed him.”
Lawyers for the family have commissioned an independent autopsy and hired an independent investigator.