An inquest jury has ruled that the fatal shooting of Edward Anderson by a Seattle Police officer Jan. 15 was unintentional.
Returning yesterday afternoon to a courtroom crowded with uniformed Seattle Police officers and reporters after nearly eight hours of deliberation, the jurors delivered their unanimous answers. "Based on the evidence, it did not show it (the shooting) was done on purpose," said Kabaka Haythorne, the only juror to speak publicly after the inquest. "But I would have to say I don't think the officer was as careful as he could've been."
Lem Howell, an attorney for Anderson's family, challenged Haythorne in the hallway.
"How can you say the shooting is accidental?" he asked, his face only inches from Haythorne's. "How do you explain a shot to the Adam's apple less than a foot away?"
The shooting has spurred accusations of police prejudice because Anderson was an African American and the officer who shot him, William Edwards, is white. Anderson also was unarmed.
Anderson's father, who was present for most of the inquest, denounced the findings.
"I believe when he pulled his weapon and aimed it at (Anderson), he began it, and when he pulled the trigger, he finished it," said Norris Anderson. "He killed him, he flat-out killed him."
Anderson died of a gunshot wound to the neck shortly after police were summoned to 2024 E. Spruce St. at 2:24 a.m., the third 911 call from the house that night.
When officers arrived, according to testimony, the owner of the house, Truth Coven, ran out the front door screaming, "He tried to kill me, he's got my baby!"
Edwards was the first officer to arrive on the scene but waited for another patrol car to arrive before getting out of his car.
Shortly after going to the east side of the house, Edwards testified, he saw Anderson clear an 8-foot wooden fence in the back of the house and run north into a vacant lot.
Edwards said he chased the domestic-violence suspect across the lot and caught up with him at a wire fence that Anderson attempted to jump over.
The officer said Anderson was tangled in the fence and lying on his back with his feet in the air when he arrived at the fence.
He said he leaned over the fence and pointed his Glock .22 down at Anderson, not intending to fire. He testified it discharged while he was instructing Anderson not to move.
"I thought, `Oh, my God,' " Edwards said on the stand Monday. "My first instinct was, how did my gun go off?"
Seattle Police found the gun did not malfunction. The 31-year-old officer acknowledged his finger may have slipped onto the trigger of his gun.
Prosecutors have withheld consideration of charges pending the completion of the inquest. King County Deputy Prosecutor James Konat said he will make a recommendation about whether to charge Edwards by tomorrow. Prosecutors are not bound by the jurors' findings.
King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng is expected to make a decision in two weeks.
Edwards left the courtroom insulated by a crowd of officers and declined to comment. His attorney, Anne Bremner, said he was pleased. "It clearly was an accident," she said. "He's really glad it's over."