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caption: Lit candles spell 'No New Names' during a vigil in honor of a person who was shot and killed by two Seattle Police officers while in a crisis and holding a knife on Tuesday along Seattle's waterfront, on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
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Lit candles spell 'No New Names' during a vigil in honor of a person who was shot and killed by two Seattle Police officers while in a crisis and holding a knife on Tuesday along Seattle's waterfront, on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at Westlake Park in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle police shoot, kill person said to be in mental crisis

Newly released police body camera footage reveals the moments during which Seattle police officers shot and killed a person, who was reported to be in mental distress Tuesday night.

The event marks the second fatal Seattle Police Department shooting this month.

At about 9:20 p.m., Seattle police officers responded to a call from the Port of Seattle Police Department, reporting a person armed with a knife and harming themselves near the Seattle Waterfront.

Port of Seattle Police encountered the person, described as a white man, at Alaskan Way and Seneca Street as they were patrolling the area, said Perry Cooper, a Port of Seattle spokesperson. The deceased person's identity has not yet been publicly shared.

The timeline of the police response is unclear. But at some point, Port of Seattle police used a 40 millimeter launcher — considered a less-lethal option — against the person. This type of weapon shoots rubber objects or bean bags, for example. The Seattle Police Department said on its website that the use of the device had been "ineffective."

SPD declined to comment further on the shooting.

Body-worn camera footage, released by the Seattle Police Department one day later, reveals what transpired as at least three Seattle police officers arrived at the scene.

“Hold on, watch out, he’s got a knife,” one of the Seattle police officers says to the other, as their vehicle approaches the person. As they exit the police cruiser, one of the officers emerges with a rifle in hand. The officer readies his weapon as he orders the person to stop moving and get down on the ground.

As the officer shouts commands, the person moves in the direction of officers, still holding the knife. “Do it. Do it,” the person responds. “Please kill me!”

About a second later, at least four gunshots ring out and the person hits the ground. Officers opened fire approximately 20 seconds after the footage starts. The person died at the scene of the shooting.

The Seattle Office of Police Accountability is reviewing the police shooting, specifically to evaluate the tactics used by police in the immediate moments before the shooting, said Andrew Myerberg, the agency's director.

“When we looked at the video, there are just questions that we have about the tactical approach, tactical plans that ... we would want to assess more fully in a full administrative investigation,” Myerberg said.

The Seattle Police Department's Force Investigation Team is also reviewing the shooting.

A vigil in honor of the person killed was held at Westlake Park Wednesday night.

Seven days prior on Feb. 9, Seattle police shot and killed another person, who was reported to have shot two victims within the 2300 block of South Massachusetts Street. The suspect was killed by police after raising and firing his gun at responding officers, according to the department.

One of the suspect’s victims later died from their injuries and the other was last reported to be in critical condition.