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Two Seattle cops fired for unleashing barrage of gunfire at fleeing car in city

SEATTLE -- Two Seattle police officers have been fired for unleashing a barrage of gunfire at a stolen car fleeing down an alley in the Eastlake neighborhood last October.

The driver and a passenger in the car were both wounded in the Oct. 8, 2017, incident. There apparently was a second passenger in the car who was not injured.

Police were called to the 2200 block of Yale Avenue East Sunday for a report of "suspicious activity" possibly involving a weapon, the department said. When officers arrived, they found suspects sitting in a black Subaru Impreza.

"As officers approached the car, the suspects attempted to strike the officers with the vehicle," SPD said. "Officers opened fire ... the suspects fled the area ... No officers were injured."

Interim Police Chief Carmen Best fired officer Kenneth Martin, who joined the department in 2015, and officer Tabitha Sexton, who joined in 2007.

In a report released Monday, interim Police Chief Carmen Best said officer Kenneth Martin's actions were "unwarranted and, ultimately, could have resulted in the people being killed."

"Three occupants of the Subaru as well as bystanders in a populated residential area could have been killed or seriously injured by your decision to repeatedly fire your weapon at the car," she wrote.

The report on Sexton said, "The officer (Martin) put his hand on the front of the car and moved backwards. You ran towards the Subaru and fired your handgun multiple times into the driver's side window area. The other officer moved to the side of the car and fired his rifle. The Subaru, in which a driver and two passengers were seated, struck a concrete wall of a building and stopped momentarily. It then slowly rolled back a short distance before moving forward, away from you and other officers. As the vehicle drove away from you, you and the other officer fired multiple additional rounds. In total, you fired your handgun eleven times."

Best wrote of Sexton: "You do not appear to comprehend that your decision to fire at a fleeing vehicle occupied by three people and in a populated residential area was starkly in contrast to the expectations set forth by Department policies and training.

"The Department's policies on deadly force require an extremely high threshold to be met before officers may use such force for an obvious and simple reason:
deadly force can be a final outcome. It should not be undertaken unless necessary due to a clear and imminent danger. The violations of each of these policies, on their own, warrant the imposed discipline. I cannot ignore these violations merely because, in this instance, no one was ultimately killed by one of your bullets."