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.”
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.
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.