Police reform team to review fatal shooting by Seattle officer

Police reform team to review fatal shooting by Seattle officer
SEATTLE - An entirely new process will be in place during the investigation of Monday night's fatal shooting of an armed man by Seattle police officers.

It's all part of Seattle Police Department reforms, ordered by the U.S. Justice Department, that are designed to reduce excessive force incidents, biased policing and unjustified stops.

Now, whenever crime scene tape goes up around an officer-involved shooting, a whole new team comes out to observe.

Police and witnesses say Monday night's shooting took place after people at a bus stop in the 2700 block of 1st Avenue South called 911 to report a man with a gun.

Officers arrived in the area and spotted the man, who continued to brandish the gun in the presence of officers. An officer armed with a patrol rifle then shot the suspect.

"The suspect continues to brandish the firearm in the officer's presence," said Det. Jeff Kappel with the Seattle Police Department. "One officer fires with his patrol rifle, striking the suspect."

The suspect, identified as 36-year-old Andrew J. Law, fell to the ground. Medics responded and took Law to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Seattle police say he died Tuesday afternoon.

After the shooting, police implemented the new process, immediately calling a team from the Office of Professional Accountability to observe the entire investigation, from Law arriving at the hospital to investigators taking statements from both officers and witnesses.

As one witness, Chewy Garcia, told KOMO News, "I see like two police cars and they get out really fast, and they start shooting at the bus stop, and so I was a little bit scared."

Law was the only person injured during the incident.

Pierce Murphy of the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability said the new process is designed to help restore public trust in the police.

"The community really wants and deserves to know that police are going to be thorough and get an objective and fair investigation to find out what happened, and we're here on their behalf to make sure that happens," he said.

Murphy and his team started the new procedure Jan. 1 as a result of the Department of Justice Investigation into Seattle police. The team does not investigate, but observes all that goes on throughout the investigation.

An officer-involved shooting in Belltown early Sunday morning prompted a similar response by the OPA. Murphy says he's had good access to evidence collection and witness statements so far, and has yet to encounter any problems.

"I want the public to trust that the Seattle Police Department is going to investigate its own officers' use of force, deadly force, in a thorough and objective manner," Murphy said.

A check of the records shows suspect Andrew Law had an extensive criminal background, and spent time in prison for assault. The officer who shot him is on paid-leave, which is standard in these cases.