Friends of man shot in Jungle don't buy police account | KUOW News and Information

Friends of man shot in Jungle don't buy police account

Oct 11, 2016

The man a police officer shot Tuesday during the big sweep of Seattle's Jungle homeless camp has died. Campers who knew him say the police account doesn't ring true.


Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole says the man police shot had a knife and was fighting with somebody.

O’Toole: “It’s unfortunate that we’ve had an officer involved shooting. But it’s a dangerous area. And the officers witnessed this altercation and did what they thought apparently they had to do.”

Related: Seattle police fatally shoot man as Jungle homeless camp clears out

But the people I spoke to in the Jungle don’t believe the police account.

Wilson Vincent Koech says the man, who he calls Mike, hated weapons and did not carry them.

Koech: “The police made a mistake. He did not carry weapons. I know Mike. Mike don’t carry weapons. They shot him for nothing, man. They shot him for nothing.”

Behind a nearby tree, Tina Harting stood with a tiny black kitten in her hands. She says Mike used to hang out at her campfire in the Jungle.  

Once home to between 300 and 400 people, the Jungle feels eerily empty these days. Union Gospel Mission says it's down to a dozen or so people.
Credit KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Harting: “Mikey was one of us. He didn’t fit in society. He fit in here, just like the rest of us that fit here, that don’t fit out there. Mikey was kind of a loner – but he’s a good man. And we love him.”

Harting says Mike wouldn’t hurt anybody.

Harting: “And he’d never threaten an officer. Not an authority figure. So I don’t know who this officer is who said that Mikey threatened him – but he’s full of shit.”

It’s not unusual to see knives flashed in the Jungle on a good day. Campers told me they’ve naturally learned to de-escalate situations like that.

Seattle Police have de-escalation training too. But everybody seemed on edge Tuesday, with this Jungle sweep happening. Detectives are still trying to figure out how it turned tragic.