EVERETT, Wash. -- Newly elected Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney has reinstated a deputy who was fired by the previous sheriff last year after a deadly police shooting.
Prosecutors declined to charge Deputy Arthur Wallin and said he was justified in the October 2018 shooting death of 24-year-old Nickolas Michael Peters. Wallin was terminated even after prosecutors said he was cleared of criminal wrongdoing.
Fortney, a political newcomer who took office Dec. 30 after defeating incumbent Ty Trenary, said he told the former deputy he would review the case, but made no promises that he would be rehired.
"I felt obligated to do so since the facts that I knew at the time of the incident did not seem to warrant termination," Fortney said. "After carefully reviewing the information, I found the termination of Deputy Wallin was not justified and that his actions were reasonable under the circumstances the suspect chose to put him in that night."
When prosecutors declined charges, they said at the time that Peters had engaged in reckless behavior and failed to respond to commands to show his hands.
Authorities say Wallin fired twice through the windshield at Peters after his car crashed. Peters' parents filed a federal lawsuit against Wallin and the sheriff's office. The county settled the lawsuit for $1 million.
According to The Seattle Times, Wallin had previous disciplinary issues, and the department's internal investigation concluded that he used unnecessary force when he shot Peters.
Jeff Campiche, the attorney representing the Peters family, says they are both disappointed and concerned with the decision to reinstate Wallin.
"We're just hoping that it doesn't lead to somebody else's death, but what it does do is it tells every other officer that if they shoot somebody, they'll be protected in that department. That there will be no fair review of their behavior."
There is no date on when Wallin will return to work, but Fortney says he will receive back pay.