Seattle police release graphic video of officer shooting knife-wielding man

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WARNING: The video below contains graphic content of a shooting

SEATTLE -- A Seattle police officer shot and killed a suspect believed to have rammed a patrol car on Interstate 5 earlier Friday morning, police said.

The police department late Friday released the dash cam video of the confrontation and shooting to back up initial reports that the suspect charged the officer with a large knife.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead man as 27-year-old  Samuel Smith and said he died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The Seattle officer is now on paid administrative leave, pending the shooting investigation, which is standard procedure.

The shooting happened in the 6500 block of Ravenna Avenue NE around 4:30 a.m. Friday.

Police say a man in a gray Mazda rammed a patrol car from the back on southbound I-5  just south of Lake City Way about a half-hour earlier. The officer was treated at the hospital for minor injuries and released.

The suspect sped away, but another officer spotted a Mazda that fit the description about 30 minutes later in Ravenna, where residents woke up to the sound of gunshots.

“I heard about 3 or 4 shots then a shout,” witness Sean Lutterman said.

A police officer had approached the suspect and identified himself. At the point, the man can be seen charging the officer with a large knife.

The officer backed away from the man and ordered him to drop the knife as the suspect ran toward him. The officer then fired several shots, fatally wounding the man.

Here is the graphic video:

Seattle Police say the investigation will determine if reasonable force was used but initial reports indicate the officer fired after feeling threatened.

“That is a tough call, if somebody was trying to attack me I don’t know what I would do,” resident Cameron Siemens said.

“I hope whatever happened, they get to the bottom of it,” Siemens said.

Police say this is the 10-inch knife that the man had raised as he charged a police officer. (Photo: SPD)

Police say this is the 10-inch knife that the man had raised as he charged a police officer. (Photo: SPD)

Investigators are now reviewing the case, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses.

The Seattle Police Department is asking anyone with information related to Friday morning’s events, or anyone who may have known Smith to call the SPD tip line at (206) 233-5000.

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74 comments

  • WendyR

    He had a knife… ok I get it. Why Oh Why can’t the knife be expertly shot out of his hand?… or shoulder or knee? Do SPD officers need better gun training??? Seems so.

    • The Decider

      Ya, I can totally see how the officer had time to aim for a hand. This man charging from just feet away with a knife in the air. Psh. This officer is the only person in the world who wouldn’t have aimed. Not. If someone charges another person with a knife they deserve to be shot. He just so happened to die. How about we take criminals like so, keep them alive, and people like you can say, adopt a criminal, and pay for them to live the rest of their long fulfilling lives? In my book this officer reacted perfectly. The guy had a visible weapon, charged full speed, weapon drawn, straight at the officer. He wasn’t beaten, tortured, or shot in the back. I praise this officer for getting this scum off the street for good and for choosing to not be a victim because some nut like you wants him to aim for a hand. You would be meat in a similar situation. I on the other hand, would choose the officers route. If its me or you, its gonna be me walkin away. Don’t try and pull that shit and think your gona go home to your family.

    • Paula Roberts

      This is real life not a cowboy movie. When someone is running at you with a knife you put as many rounds as it takes to stop them center mass. If you try to the extremities it is easy to miss and if you do manage to hit them it quite possibly won’t stop them, then your dead.

    • Dan Rafael

      Ok Wendy, put yourself in this situation, instead of running at the police officer the man is running at you, he’s ten feet away. Would you want the officer shooting at the part of the body moving the most in an attempt to shoot the gun out of his hand (which still doesn’t stop the dangerous criminal and he might just break your neck) or do you want the police to do as trained and aim at the center of mass.

      • Larry Dennison

        I know Sam Smith. I have known him for years. This is so completely uncharacteristic for a young man who is one of the best self-taught musicians I have ever seen a brilliant mind. I have no idea what was going on here, but it is astonishing to me that a highly trained police officer (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars) cannot find a more appropriate way to deal with something like this. Sam, assuming it is Sam in this video, had a knife and the officer had a 9mm pistol. There must be a better way to defuse a situation like this short of snuffing a beautiful human being. Why not run away–there were four other cops there? Why not shoot into the air or the ground first? Why not taze the attacker? What are tazers for, if not just such a situation? Why not mace? Why go for the most lethal of equipment on a policeman’s belt? Sam was an amazing young man. That I know for a fact. Now he is dead, because a cop decided he was a threat. Not only is Sam gone, but so is a small fortune in police training.

        • bill

          Selfish and narcissism on the police part that is why they can not de-escalate the situation. Most police are a bunch of well pay human being who do not want to act less than what they think they are and most police will do anything to lie and cheat to make themselves look good at all time because most of them are narcissist.

    • Thomas Morris

      Is this a joke, or are you seriously this dumb? Not trying to be mean, I am just asking a serious question. Do you really think cops should really be required to perfect crazy, exhibition style, trick shots? I really, really, really, hope that you are joking. I think the thing that scares me most is that you are legally allowed to vote….

      • Larry Dennison

        No, I would expect them to try everything available to them BEFORE blowing away a young man. What is mace for? What are expensive tazers for? Why not run, or shoot in the air, or into the ground in front of him? Why always does it have to be Rambo-cop? Give me a break! The gun should be the last resort, not the first.

        • miles

          Larry, if you watch the video, that is not an option here. React like that, and the officer could be the dead one here. This was a point blank attack with a huge knife, it only takes 1 stab from that thing in the heart to kill the officer. Maybe Sam was a great person, but he went crazy that night and what happened to him is no ones fault but his own.

    • Maggie Bluffs

      Did you bother to even look at the video? He charged the officer, who has time to run and then aim perfectly while some lunatic is charging them with a knife. He got what he deserved, I have zero sympathy for him. I arrived in the area for breakfast after the fact, SPD handled themselves well.

    • Wallus

      An outfit like the British SAS has members wearing out a handgun a year out of a tremendous amount of practice above and beyond what almost anyone else does ever. They train to shoot assailants in the forehead every time. They MIGHT have the conditioned marksmanship to attempt to would in the arm but don’t even try that with a moving target.

    • AlanMMartinez

      my co-worker’s step-aunt makes $64 hourly on the computer . She has been out of work for ten months but last month her pay was $16678 just working on the computer for a few hours.>>> you could look here>>>> Read More

    • The Decider

      I agree. Seems suicidal to me as well. If he didn’t want to die he wouldn’t have been a moron and charged with a knife in plain sight and that huge. Either he was mentally retarded, or wanted to die.

  • Kit

    Well, the whole thing happened pretty darn fast. I’d say the police officer encountered an armed, crazy, barefoot white guy and had to shoot. I’d guess the deceased was on some drugs and thought he was invincible for some reason.

  • Todd Stevens

    Regarding the Friday shooting of Sam Smith. The Seattle Police are trained in a cowardly fashion, wielding their might instead of a quick mind. This officer had safe distance, a moment in which a man with higher intelligence could choose a non-lethal target on an advancing assailant. Clearly, the victim is at the effect of some drug. I knew him casually when he worked at Aldrich’s Market in Port Townsend. Sam was a lovely young man. He would not be exhibiting this behavior, I am certain, if not for an induced effect.
    Therefore, is it the summary judgment of the Seattle Police department that, in these instances of bodily threat, the tack to take is execution? Speaking to another who knew Sam better, my opinion only gains strength.
    This officer was threatened, obviously. He should have learned his job better, should have been trained better, in order to have not put himself in this harm’s way, to not have forced his fearful nature to take control and Shoot, Shoot, Shoot. His bravado and ego were key components in this horrible mishap. He won’t be asked to leave the force… but he should. He, like so many other officers that we have seen in the news over the past several years, does not belong on a PEACE KEEPING force. The entire department needs to be overhauled.
    I will miss Sam, knowing he is gone. Knowing that a young man who made a mistake has been robbed of a chance to find his footing once again, robbed by the COWARDICE of the Seattle Police Department and Union.
    -Todd S

      • Larry Dennison

        I wonder what cops learn at the academy? Do you suppose they learn to shoot at a moving target? Do they learn to diffuse or do they learn to shoot first? The kid had a knife. The cop had a 9mm. Is the only recourse to shoot the kid three times in the torso? If so, I think we are not getting our money’s worth from police training. Those of you who are spouting without knowing Sam Smith are simply playing too many video games.

    • Lakeunion

      Todd, people like you live in fantasy land. This guy was driving a weapon on the freeway in the 1 st incident when he rammed the police car. He could of killed that officer or an innocent victim in the crash. He pulled a knife on a cop and was going after the officer and that officer HAS ever right to defend himself and others that may be in that area. A pedestrian had just passed by seconds earlier. The officer had to use his gun to defend himself. I am sick and tired of people like you and Wendy who are you frigging out of touch with reality. Glad the officer did his job and was able to go home instead of the morgue or Harborview that night. Good job officer.

      • Larry Dennison

        I am sick and tired of apologists like you who think the world is Rambo simple. There are many ways to treat a situation without execution. God forbid you ever find yourself at the wrong end of a situation like this.

        • miles

          Larry your comments are just ridiculous. You knew the guy and have too much of an emotional connection. You are not seeing this right. Are you really saying “God forbid you ever find yourself in this situation, ramming cops off the freeway and then charging them with knives” like that’s a common situation someone could find themselves in? The video is undeniable. Sam was trying to murder that cop, and the cop defended himself.

      • Larry Dennison

        Maybe if the cop had been a little more responsible, Sam wouldn’t be dead. Who has the advantage, the guy with the 10″ knife, or the guy with the flak jacket and the 9mm automatic pistol? What about mace? What about the tazer? What about the 2 foot long night stick? Four cops, one knife wielding kid. Who has the advantage. What the hell does it take to stop a situation without deadly force?

    • Justin G

      Completely agree with you I knew Sam as well and hungout with him a lot in the past. The Seattle police are one of the most violent police depts in the U.S. . These assholes who act like they know tons about law enforcement and bragging about how they would have killed him too are tools. Screw you guys I’m sure most of you don’t have any experience in law enforcement . This cop had plenty of time to get some distance between him and Sam. He had a squad car he could have used as cover . He had time to draw a gun he had time to draw his taser and get some distance . I hope this unjustified murder is investigated and this cop is shamed cause clearly his training or lack of didn’t work.

      • Joshua

        I’m a police officer on the east coast, with almost 19 years on the job.
        This is a legally justified, and tactically sound shooting.
        Police training for decades has been to use an equal or greater level of force than what is brought against you. If they are throwing punches, the officer can use pepper spray, a baton, or a taser. If the weapon is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury; such as a 10 inch chef’s knife then the appropriate response is a firearm.
        The officer made a spilt-second decision based upon the situation. The longer a situation like that shown continues, the greater the possibility of the officer being hurt. Instead of drawing his gun and shooting he could just as easily tripped and fallen to the ground and been maimed or stabbed to death. In an ideal world, there would be time to gain more distance, and safely try de-escalation methods to “talk him down” but as seen here, sometimes that doesn’t get the chance to happen.
        From reading the local’s comments, he seemed like a good person, and it’s sad that he lost his life; but his decisions and actions, even if influenced by some type of mental illness or impairment played a part in what happened.

        • Larry Dennison

          Are all cops taught to shoot first? Why do they carry all that other non-lethal gear on their belts? Why do they wear flak jackets? Why are so many people being killed by the police, in situations where surely there are alternatives? Why do so many of those killings turn out to be unwarranted uses of force or the result of overreaction? I understand the need for self-defense, but if I shot someone who I believe poses a threat to me I am likely to be convicted of a crime. Why is it so different for well trained, well equipped, well backed-up police?

  • Cheeri

    I have known Sam half of his life. He was a sushi chef, which is why the knife was in his car. He had to have been really, REALLY drunk because he was a gentle, quiet, even tempered man. He was adopted uncle to my grandson. I am sick about this, and feel the police officer could have tried for a non fatal shot. He was far enough away and professionally trained. And “Decoder”? Wrong call. You called him a criminal who deservered to be killed? He was no such thing, “Chris”? Sam was NOT suicidal. Not even remotely. It was a horrid situation that got out of hand with a normally good man who made a fatal move UNDER THE INFLUENCE….my condolences to all his family and friends.

    • Maggie Bluffs

      If this is the type of decisions Sam made when drunk then he has a substance abuse problem and has no business around alcohol. Maybe you’d rather be around Sam drunk and wielding a knife.

    • Marc

      You and Todd are both wrong I’m sorry. A man lunging at you with a knife within 4-8 feet is already in the officers danger zone. At this point non lethal force is out of the question. Law enforcement use a “use of force” algorithm and a knife wielding man at 4 feet goes straight to deadly force. You are insane to assume this officer knew this guy’s social history. What if this dude had used non lethal, failed, and the suspect took his weapon. But you don’t think of that, you think emotionally. I’m trying to keep this civil but you guys are idiots. If your husband or whatever is a cop and agrees with you, then he needs to go back to the academy. Everytime you pull your weapon it is for a kill not disabling shot. That is what they a r e taught and that’s what this officer executed.

      • Larry Dennison

        No! What this officer executed was a very talented and brilliant young man. You have no idea what you are talking about. There is something terribly wrong with this entire story, because as you can see from the comments of those who knew Sam–myself included–this was not the Sam Smith we knew. Something was wrong with this picture and we likely will never know what it was. But those who blow-hard about “he had it coming” hopefully are spared the agony of such a needless killing. Now go back to your Rambo videos.

        • Harsh Reality

          For those still reading this, KOMO did a follow-up interview with Sam’s mother. (Sorry to plug the other station, Q13 but they did it and you didn’t.) She showed the same integrity that all of us who know her and knew Sam would expect. to the point of compassion for the officer involved and the feelings he must have. She’s got more class in her pinky finger than most of the posters here combined.

      • Larry Dennison

        Excuse me. Tazers are out of the question at 4-8 feet? Check your facts. If, however, you pull your 9mm first, instead of your tazer, you have put yourself in a position of having to shoot and likely to kill. Have you ever seen what a tazer can do to a human? Had that been the case, I can assure you there would not have been a stabbing, OR a killing?

        • Realist

          There you have it in a nutshell, Larry:
          1. Cops do not shoot to maim, they shoot to kill.
          2. In the heat of the moment, this cop grabbed his gun instead of his tazer.
          3. Three kill-shots and THEN he yells, “I SAID put down the knife…”
          4. He’s applauded by his actions for “Taking scum off the street,” by a bunch of people who knew nothing about Sam.
          5. He is called a “Peace Officer.”

  • Cheeri

    By the way, as the ex wife of an ex cop who came from a family of cops-there ARE other options to subdue a subject. Sam was probably so drunk the cop could have simply run in the opposite direction and talked him down from a safer distance. Immediate physical confrontation is NOT the only choice! Gun verses knife is hardly a fair match, and Sam was far enough away. Perhaps it is prudent for some not to make comments about a man they did not know, and a situation they were not in. It seems in this country “blow them away and think about it later” has become the way things are done. This isn’t a video game! As a society, Americans are becoming the most thoughtless and violent people on this planet. Police have all kinds of technology available now that can take down a person without killing them. To all those who have negated this man’s life, when the “tox report” comes in, you will see he was under the influence. And before you wax hypocritical, I am sure many of you have been as “wasted” some time as well, doing things you never thought yourself capable of, but were lucky enough it did not get out of hand. We will miss you , Sam.

    • Lakeunion

      Cheeri These are your words you posted ” Immediate physical confrontation is NOT the only choice!” That was the choice your guy Sam offered that officer when the officer calmly walked up to his car. Sam gave that officer no choice. Lets not forget he tried to kill another officer with his car earlier. Being drunk is not an excuse. I am sure the tox report will show extreme impairment but that is no excuse. This is not a video game where you have slo-motion and do overs. This is real life where Sam made some poor dangerous choices which caused his own demise. Most of us in society will not miss Sam……….trust me on that.

    • Jack

      His actions are non-excusable just because you knew him.

      “Gun verses knife is hardly a fair match”

      What is this, a boxing match? This guy rammed a police car and then lunged at the police with a knife. If you willingly attack an officer of the law, you deserve to be put down like the mad dog that you are. Props to the officer for carrying out swift justice in a dangerous situation.

  • A former sushi chef

    That looks like a sushi knife, which is the best assault knife in the world. It will cut you like a butter or sashimi….

  • STEVEN SEAGAL

    The dead SOB was going to kill the officer. But the officer was HARD TO KILL. GOOD JOB, OFFICER. I’M PROUD OF YOU.

  • JeffreyBHubbard

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  • Chal

    I’ve ZERO sympathy for any supposed victim in this incident and I’m highly critical of police use of force. Someone was looking for trouble and got it. Good riddance. Anyone that takes offense to that can pound sand.

  • Bill Williams

    “That is a tough call, if somebody was trying to attack me I don’t know what I would do,” resident Cameron Siemens said.
    ——————

    Well, there’s your Seattle leftist prototype.

  • Realist

    I sure hope the grieving mother and brother of this boy are not reading some of these insensitive posts. “Scum off the streets?” “Most of us in society will not miss Sam…”? Here’s the reality: Whatever the explanation for Sam’s actions, be it drugs, alcohol, depression, he should have had a chance to solve them. Instead, a cop, as someone so accurately put it below, “executed” him. Granted, the cop did not know who he was or what the story is, he had a split second to decide to fire, and “cops don’t fire to maim, they fire to kill.” He didn’t go for a kneecap and see if it stopped him, then go for a crotch shot if it didn’t, then go for a chest shot if that didn’t, all of which were realistic to do. He took three kill shots in rapid succession. He even had the presence of mind to again yell, “DROP THE KNIFE” after he shot and killed Sam. Seattle’s finest. Judge, jury and executioner in seconds.

    I’m certain I speak on behalf of his grieving mother, his brother, and everyone in their late 20’s in PT who grew up with Sam when I say, “You didn’t have to KILL him.”

    • Realist

      And Jispher. If that was your little brother in the same situation, would you have gleaned such “enjoyment?” Or would you be demanding an explanation of why he acted that way? What you find “enjoyable” is downright sick. If it was the cop’s little brother would he have tried to find another solution before taking three kill shots in rapid succession?

        • Realist

          One individual determined whether it was a bed or a coffin. It was a permanent determination. I do not find that acceptable. And what exactly is an “entitletist?” Sam was entitled to due process, and that was permanently denied by one individual. You find that acceptable? I hear North Korea is nice this time of year. Maybe we should pitch in for a one-way ticket for you.

          • Jispher Askine

            Spare the rod spoil the child, if he needed help where was the family, oh I see it’s up to everyone else to foot the bill. Your far from a “realist”, more like a surrealist. If he wanted help, he should have dropped the knife or committed suicide by his own hands not someone else’s. Bottom line YOU make YOUR bed, YOU sleep in it!

          • Realist

            Jispher, you have the same “shoot first, ask questions later if at all” attitude of SPD. I also have known this kid since he was little, and like everyone else on here that knew him am saying this was just not like him. Excellent family and a good, almost meek, nice guy. What would you have to say if the TX test showed absolutely ZERO drugs or alcohol, and something like Ambien? Absolutely innocent and legal and known to make people do inexplicable things. Would you still be saying it was good riddance? You come to incorrect conclusions and go from there. YOU ARE WRONG. The people who knew him are all searching for an explanation. You have one with no knowledge whatsoever.

          • Jispher Askine

            What questions later, watch the F’n Video!

            “What would you have to say if the TX test showed absolutely ZERO drugs or alcohol, and something like Ambien?”

            You say “ZERO drugs”, FYI – Ambien IS a drug, a prescribed drug, no prescription makes it illegal usage as well as misuse of it!

            YOU make YOUR bed, YOU sleep in it! Take YOUR guilt and trip YOURSELF!

    • The Central Scrutinizer

      It is certainly sad that a young man had to die under these circumstances, and it is also sad that so many insensitive comments have been made about that person’s death. But with regard to the actual shooting, your comments suggest you’re far from being a “Realist.” A shooter simply cannot pick his spots in a split second with a handgun. I assume you haven’t done much shooting, as what you suggest is more fantasy than reality. And if we expect police to operate under such fantastical expectations, how can we reasonably expect them to protect the truly innocent? If police officers feel they need to avoid confrontation because of an unrealistic level of scrutiny being imposed by the public, then even more dangerous criminals will be going bump in the night and arriving at our doorsteps. How does a realist handle that? If you’re willing to even own a handgun in Western Washington, would you shoot for the knee of someone who is charging you with a knife?

      • Realist

        Actually you are mistaken. I have been trained and licensed and carry a handgun for 30+ years.

        I once had the misfortune of being literally face-to-face with the devil. A totally cracked-out, bug-eyed maniac threatening to “take me out.” He was a good head taller than me and coming through my front door. He never knew I had my .40 cal handgun in his stomach, the hollow-points in which would have splattered his guts and spine all over the trees behind him,. In that heated moment I was able to decide to give one push before pulling the trigger. Fortunately (for him mostly) he was off balance and I was able to slam and deadbolt the door between us. I made that choice in a split-second with ZERO space between us. This cop had a good ten feet.

        I did not kill that guy, and I knew who he was and he truly was a worthless waste of air. I honestly WOULD have been doing society a favor by removing him. And to this day I feel that if I’d pulled the trigger I could look myself in the mirror with ZERO problem. But it wasn’t my decision to make. BTW, when the cops arrived they all said something like, “You should have…”

  • Shocked

    I’ve known Sam since he was about 10 years old… and worked with him at the restaurant he used that knife in… and I can’t believe that he was in his right mind when this happened.
    As someone who adored the sweet, funny, gentle person I knew him to be, I am not going to blame this officer for defending himself. I would have done the same thing in his position; defended my life that was in very real danger. It is tragic, I wish that it would have turned out differently… if any one of those shots had landed somewhere else, he could be alive and receiving the help or wake up call that he was obviously in need of, but there’s no way to undo what has been done. Something was going on with this man that we don’t know about, and everything will be explained as best it can. No other person, not me and NOT ONE OF YOU OVER-OPINIONATED JERKS, have ANY idea what happened.
    Sam was not a bad person or a criminal. He was a man who many people love. What if he had been a friend or family member of yours, and you were struggling to accept and understand what the hell is going on? What if that officer was your friend or brother or father or son, and he was being targeted as a monster? Be compassionate, this is hard for everyone involved.

  • Chad

    Ok fucktards that think it’s appropriate to use mace or a tazer on a knife wielding psychopath. One that already exhibited violent behavior by ramming a police officer off the road at highway speed which in and of itself is assault with a deadly weapon. Then a second officer makes contact with the guy and he pulls out a rather large knife and comes at the officer. He needed shot to stop the threat. Pepper spray is NOT an appropriate response to someone brandishing a deadly weapon and is coming at you. Nor is the tazer. Deadly force has to be met with deadly force. If the guy was standing there with a knife, the officer could back away putting safe distance between him and the shitball and decide on other solutions. But the officer was immediately attacked and had no other option. As far as the officer “running away”….nope. Police have no duty to retreat. The dumbass got what he deserved. Plain and simple. You don’t want to get shot by a police officer…it’s really simple. Don’t ram them off the road with your car then later on charge at them with a knife in your hand.

  • Shock Absorber

    I feel like I’ve grown up jaded and uninformed that the Law Enforcement of our country are not actually here to “Protect and Serve.”
    Instead, I am seeing a lot of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ mentality. Innocent until proven guilty. Due process.
    To Protect and Serve- These are beliefs we have & are told to trust in as citizens of this country. I am not sure our SPD believes in the same things we’re told we ought to. An article published by the NY times on August 1st further proves this point- noting the the Seattle Police Department received training from a Psychology Professor known to defend countless cases across the country in which officers used lethal force upon innocent citizens. It makes me sick to my stomach to think we trust a man who believes, bottom line, that lethal force is ALWAYS ok if you’re law enforcement- to train those who would Protect and Serve us.

    There’s a lot of injustice within our ‘Justice’ System. Anyone believing otherwise is delusional.
    I don’t remember hearing “Remember kids! Cops are also the judge, jury, and executioner. Best Fear them and be Thankful.”

    Frankly, I am also sickened by some of the commentary on an article like this. Showing zero levels of compassion for the mental health of the cop, the victim, or the victim’s family/friends/loved ones is another sign that not just our justice system is horribly flawed.

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