A police officer responding to a fight near a Federal Way Safeway store in 1993 said he had no idea shoplifting suspect Antonio Jackson needed medical attention.
King County police Officer Michael Rayborn testified today that he was entirely focused on the fact Jackson might have a gun, as a bystander had indicated.
"My first and only thought was to secure him (Jackson) and find a weapon. I did not want to be shot," Rayborn said.
Two of Jackson's friends told jurors yesterday at a King County inquest into his death that Rayborn and another officer interrupted lifesaving efforts and treated the unconscious man as a threat.
In fact, Mona McKoy of Federal Way testified yesterday that she was ordered away by an officer who then turned Jackson onto his stomach, handcuffed him behind his back and eventually propped him against a street pole.
She and her husband, Trevor, also testified that police ignored the couple while listening to the group that had restrained Jackson.
"I was yelling, `He can't breathe, he needs help,' but everyone else was yelling he was faking it," McKoy said.
Rayborn said today he asked Mona McKoy to stand back but added she never mentioned Jackson needed medical aid.
Jackson, 25, died near the store the night of Dec. 14, 1993, after he was wrestled to the ground by two Safeway employees who thought he had stolen a pack of cigarettes. The King County medical examiner ruled Jackson died of asphyxia caused by a combination of pressure placed on his chest and neck.
Arriving officers were concerned that someone, possibly Jackson, had a gun.
Jackson was unarmed, but Trevor McKoy acknowledged on the witness stand that he had pretended to have one earlier to get the men off Jackson.
Mona McKoy, who said she was trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, testified that she had detected a slight pulse in Jackson but that he was unconscious and unresponsive. She briefly administered aid and then stood up and yelled at members of the crowd. "I was scared. This was my friend, and I didn't know what to do."
McKoy said she was in the process of trying CPR again when she was ordered away by the first officer to arrive.
Under questioning by James Cline, the attorney for the officers, McKoy said she didn't have a chance to tell officers that Jackson had been choked and didn't hear others talk about it.