SEATTLE – On Friday the Washington State Patrol confirmed it is now the outside law enforcement agency investigating the fatal shooting by a Seattle Police office of Iosia Faletogo on New Year’s Eve.
Faletogo’s family, friends and supporters took to the streets Friday afternoon to demand justice for his death at the hands of Seattle police officers.
Faletogo’s family called him an artist and a loving father – and they believe he should have been taken into custody peacefully. And, now that I-940 is the law in Washington state, new procedures are in place to help involve the community during the investigation.
Andre Taylor helped organize a rally and march at Seattle’s Westlake Park. He told Q13 News his organization ‘Not This Time’ was there to help the Faletogo’s family through what is likely the roughest time of their lives.
“A lot of times in the past when these investigations happened, they’ve been being the scenes, so 940 will bring that to the forefront so that it can build community and law enforcement agencies and trust,” he said.
Thirty-year-old Iosia Faletogo’s family and friends gathered to remember a man full of love for his children.
“Today is justice for my son,” said Iosia’s father, Mane Faletogo. “We’ll never bring him back.”
“That night he was shot, that night he was defenseless,” said Iosia’s aunt, Kerina Ngauamo. “That night he was trying to get home to be with his family on New Year’s Eve.”
The crowd marched from Westlake Park to the Federal Courthouse denouncing Seattle Police’s claim that Faletogo was a threat, and they want the officer who killed him to face justice.
“This was not called for,” said Ngauamo. “You could have brought him in peacefully.”
It all started New Year’s Eve on Aurora Avenue when SPD says Faletogo ran from a traffic stop. Officers pulled him over for an alleged illegal lane change and driver under a suspended license.
Six SPD officers gave chase – body cameras rolling -- and eventually caught up with Faletogo – that’s where a struggle with officers ensued, investigators say Faletogo then pulled out a fully loaded handgun.
Moments later, body cams captured the moment police shot and killed Faletogo. His family says he was out-numbered, face down and was unarmed at the time of the shooting. Faletogo’s family and activists believe the investigation into his shooting will now for the first time offer input and scrutiny from the community like never before.
“What they really want is to see law enforcement and community come together and build from that, which is why they voted for the initiative,” said Taylor. “So, they expect to get everything they voted for and I expect to make sure that that happens.”
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave which is standard procedure.
Both SPD and WSP are conducting their own separate investigations at the same time – the Seattle Office of Police Accountability has already launched its own investigation. Plus, later this spring, we expect the county executive’s office to launch an inquest of its own.
There are also nine other officer-involved shootings that are awaiting an inquest from the King County Executive’s office. The inquests had been on moratorium but are expected to begin again later in 2019.