ABERDEEN, Wash. – Surveillance video of a deadly police shooting in Aberdeen Monday is raising questions about the official statement from the city’s police department.
The shooting happened around noon after police say 41-year-old Kristopher Fitzpatrick was walking near Broadway and Heron Streets when an officer spotted him. Fitzpatrick had several outstanding warrants out for his arrest, including felony charges for drug possession.
According to the Aberdeen Police Department, Fitzpatrick began yelling at officers, saying he refused to go back to prison and fled. An officer chased Fitzpatrick on foot and shot him after police say he brandished a gun.
“The individual displayed a firearm, pointed it in the direction of my officer, the individual was ordered to drop the firearm. The officer who was in foot pursuit then discharged his firearm several times, striking the individual,” Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate said Monday.
However, new surveillance video appears to show a different version of the confrontation. Fitzpatrick can be seen in a parking lot shouting at officers when a patrol car parks directly in front of him.
Fitzpatrick approaches the officer, still in their car, when he’s shot. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died.
A person close to Fitzpatrick’s family says she’s doubtful Fitzpatrick was pointing a weapon at officers when he was shot, saying “I’m no forensic scientist, but it doesn’t look like this man pulled a gun on anybody.”
Though Shumate was adamant that Fitzpatrick was armed during the confrontation.
“I do know he had a pistol in his possession,” he said. “When I arrived on scene after the shooting had occurred, the pistol was still in close proximity to the man.”
The shooting is under investigation by the Region Three Sheriff's Offices, a consortium of several law enforcement agencies, with the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office taking lead.
Grays Harbor Sheriff Rick Scott says the viral video was only a small portion of one of the full videos. He said other surveillance camera videos captured other moments involved in the case. He said what was circulating on social media did not tell the whole story.
“When you look at that video, it’s easy to interpret it in a variety of ways,” he said. “I can tell you many theories were called in based on what this person thinks happened based on watching the video.”
Scott confirmed Fitzpatrick had a gun, which was taken into evidence. The sheriff also noted that officers didn't taser him.
The officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
This is the official statement from Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate regarding the shooting:
On September 9, 2019 at approximately 11:55 am, an officer with the Aberdeen Police Department observed a 41 year old Aberdeen man walking in the area of Broadway and Heron Streets (Aberdeen). The man was well know (sic) to police and being sought for various felony warrants.
As the officer approached the man, the man told the officer several times that he was not going back to prison. The man started to reach for something in his pants pocket as the officer ordered him to stop. The man then fled on foot southwest toward State Street.
Another Aberdeen Officer was nearby and gave chase on foot. As the suspect neared the East and West State Street area, the suspect pulled a gun on the pursuing officer. The officer had ordered the man to drop the gun before the suspect was shot multiple times. The suspect later died at the hospital from his injuries.
The suspect was a convicted felon with multiple warrants for his arrest. Various warrants were issued on 08/28/2019 for Obstructing Police, Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle, and Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act – Possession of Methamphetamine.
The Regional 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team (CIIT) with detectives from Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Thurston County Sheriff’s Offices were called in to investigate. They are being assisted by the Washington State Patrol. The CIIT has extensive experience with investigating officer-involved shootings or deadly force incidents.
The involved officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the Investigation.