Bellevue

Residents demand answers after controversial police shooting

Residents demand answers after controversial police shooting »Play Video
SEATTLE -- A month after a Bellevue SWAT team shot and killed a suspect in a Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood, many residents are still angry about what happened.

On Monday night, some of those concerned neighbors attended a meeting to hear from community leaders and police officials from both departments.

Bellevue police officials admit mistakes were made in the March 22 incident, but they defend the department's actions.

Columbia City residents awoke to screams, gunfire and an explosion last month.

"It was terrifying," said resident Guy Davis. "My oldest daughter was repeating over and over, 'I don't want to die. I don't want to die.'"

Davis lives two houses away from the suspect's home, and he was in a front room when the shots rang out.

Bellevue police were trying to serve an armed robbery search warrant on Russell Smith. Before the morning was over, Bellevue police had shot and killed Smith, and now neighbors are questioning the operation and what they feel was a lack of regard for their community.

"What happened to us happened at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve us," said resident Genessa Krasnow.

At Monday's meeting, residents described what their families experienced during the SWAT situation. They also demanded answers.

"From our vantage point, we were hoping to contact and arrest a career, violent criminal in a way that was least impactful to the environment around," said Mike Johnson of the Bellevue Police Department.

Johnson said SWAT served the warrant after the department considered Smith's potential risk and the possibility of violence.

But residents say there was no communication with police during that time, and they say officials at a nearby school were not made aware of the situation.

"To the neighbors, I'm sorry you went through this frightening experience," said Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo. "We would never have wanted to have this search warrant end the way it did."

Members of Smith's family, including his brother Gregory Cook, attended the meeting. Cook and others said they have been waiting a month for an apology.

"We had to ask for that 30 days after. In this day and age, that sounds pretty ridiculous," Cook said.

Video of the shooting is being reviewed, but Bellevue police officials aren't addressing specifics about the incident.