Last month a SWAT team from Bellevue arrived around 5:00 a.m. in a Columbia City neighborhood to serve a warrant for a suspect. As the dramatic scene unfolded the suspect, Russell Smith, was shot and killed by three Bellevue police officers. Now neighbors want answers about what happened.
Neighbors at last night’s meeting were emotional as they described their terror that morning at hearing the explosions meant to distract the suspect and the shots that killed him. They say they were left frightened and confused while the street was locked down for four hours.
Interim Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel spoke at the packed meeting and conceded that neighbors should have been more informed.
“We should have done a much better job while we were at the scene, once the scene was stabilized to communicate with everyone who was affected on that dead end street and also on south Hudson. And we will do better,” Pugel said.
Members of Smiths family were there too. They demanded an apology from Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo, who told them, “I am sorry for the loss of your brother. I am very sorry, the officers are very sorry. It should have not gone the way that it did, and, again, like I said, the suspect’s action created a reaction.” That qualification angered neighbors who questioned police accounts of what happened.
Seattle Police are investigating the incident. They say they’ll forward their findings to the prosecutor’s office in a couple of weeks. An inquest into the shooting could take up to 6 months.