The inquest into the shooting of David John Walker by Seattle police Officer Tom Doran on April 12 was officially concluded yesterday by Seattle District Judge Mark Chow.
The inquest hearings in Chow's court ended in July when a jury ruled that Doran's actions were justified. But the judge delayed officially ending the inquest until he could verify Doran had been evaluated and declared fit for duty after a 1988 shooting, as police officials had reported.
On July 1, 1988, Doran shot and wounded an unarmed but assaultive man he had stopped for drunken driving. A police review board declared the shooting was unjustified and required Doran to undergo psychological evaluation and re-training before being returned to duty.
Before the inquest, Chow decided the Walker inquest jury would not hear about the 1988 incident if it could be documented that a psychologist had declared Doran fit to return to duty.
That psychologist, David Smith, initially told a Seattle Times reporter he had never treated or evaluated Doran. Later, however, Smith found his records of the treatment and documentation of it, along with records of Doran's retraining by police. Those records were sent to Chow.
With those documents in hand, Chow declared, "This inquest definitely is at an end."
The shooting sparked protest in the African-American community because many feel the shooting was racially motivated. Walker, who had a history of mental illness, stole juice from a Lower Queen Anne Hill grocery and fired a handgun twice while being pursued by store security guards before he was shot.
Walker's family is suing the city for $5 million.
The issue was further aggravated when the Seattle Police Officers Guild later voted Doran "Officer of the Month."