Pierce County deputy kills man allegedly wielding knife near Spanaway

SPANAWAY, Wash. -- A 28-year-old Spanaway man is dead after a Pierce County Sheriff’s deputy says he was forced to shoot him.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner identified the man as William Langfitt and deputies say he was waving a knife and tried hijacking at least one car before trying to steal a deputy’s cruiser.

The incident happened late Friday evening in the Elk Plain neighborhood of Spanaway. Deputies say Langfitt has a history of drug abuse but they’re not sure if he was high Friday night. A toxicology report should provide those details, said Detective Ed Troyer from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

But the Langfitt’s family says investigators have key specifics in their case wrong, insisting William has been clean and sober and was not armed during the alleged altercation with the deputy.

Cell phone video showed the large police presence Friday night after deputies responded to multiple calls to 911 claiming someone with a knife was running around on the roadway and attempted to carjack at least one driver.

Detectives also say at least one of the 911 callers said Langfitt was having a mental breakdown and needed help. By the time deputies arrived Troyer says the scene was chaotic.

“Deputy gets out tries to order the guy to calm down at gunpoint instead he goes around the car and jumps into the patrol car. Once he gets into the patrol car, knowing he wouldn’t cooperate our deputy shot him. The last thing we want is someone to steal a patrol who’s acting like that and armed,” he said.

But Langfitt’s family told Q13 News they believe William was not armed – and the person with him called 911 to try to get him help.

Langfitt’s family also said he had been clean and sober for 6-months and said Friday’s episode was likely over an issue at work.

It’s been a busy week for sheriff’s deputies in unincorporated Pierce County. Detective Troyer says his fellow deputies are hoping for a break.

“We have the same detectives -- same people going out there every single night on these calls,” he said. “We’ve had six homicides this week, a treehouse burning with a shooting, a double homicide of parents and two little toddlers that were killed, all in a week period on top of what’s going on right now.”