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Criminal past aside, deceased shoplifter was a friend | Police investigation continues
On July 21, 29-year-old Jedidiah Waters lost his life in a shoplifting incident gone bad at the Wal-Mart on South 314th Street in Federal Way. A firearm was recovered from Waters, and the presence of that firearm caused one Federal Way police officer to open fire, ending Waters’ life.
Waters had a troubled past, which included numerous run-ins with police for things like theft, robbery and drug use. And while those may be the facts surrounding the last moments of Waters’ life, those who knew him say the truth of his life was much more than just his rap sheet.
Michelle Sherry, a resident of Des Moines, and a friend of Waters’ for a number of years, described how she met the young man a few years ago.
“I met him through my sister. They worked together, and they were good friends,” she said.
From that incidental beginning, Sherry said Waters was a regular part of life for her and her oldest son, Ante’.
“(Waters) was around for the first year of (Ante’s) life, helping me, because my son’s dad wasn’t around,” she said. “He was basically a father figure for him.”
The bond between Sherry, Ante’ and Waters was even stronger because of the love and motivation Waters gave to her son.
“He actually taught my oldest son (Ante’) how to walk and crawl,” Sherry said, recalling this memory of Waters as her favorite. “I had been trying to teach him and teach him and it never worked. And (Waters) sat there and taught him, and he had him walking and crawling within a day.”
The legal and personal difficulties in Waters’ life may have played a role in his death. At the time of his death, Waters was wanted on a warrant for failure to report to his parole officer. Outside of those troubles, Waters also had a number of misdemeanor and felony convictions for theft, drug possession and domestic violence. He had been arrested a number of times for violating separation orders in regards to the mother of his children. In a July 22 Seattle Times article, a state Department of Corrections officer was quoted as saying Waters was classified as a “high-risk violent offender.”
Outside the influence Waters had on her son’s life, Sherry said Waters was someone who always tried to be positive, who always tried to help.
Sherry conceded that Waters’ past troubles were a reality. However, she feels he’s one of the people the system failed.
"Yes, he had trouble in his past, everybody does," she said. "It doesn't make you a bad person. People are saying, 'Yeah, he grew up in foster care.' Then yeah, it shows you kind of how your system works. If there's no care for anyone after age 18, then it doesn't really teach them anything."
Whatever may have caused the July 21 shooting, Sherry feels Waters was probably there that day to try and help his family.
"His number one priority was his family, he loved his family," she said. "And if he was shoplifting, honestly, it probably would have been to go sell the stuff to someone else to make money for food or shelter or whatever it may be. I don't see him shoplifting just to shoplift for his own personal use. I don't see that."
As for the Federal Way police officer involved in the fatal shooting, the Kent Police Department has “provided a preliminary review of the case investigation” to Federal Way Police Chief Brian Wilson, spokesman Patrick Lowery said. The name of the officer, an eight-year veteran, has not been released.
Lowery said that Kent police are in the process of “collecting the final investigative reports and statements” and will have more information to Wilson late this week or early next week.
The Federal Way Police Department will then “coordinate a review of that file with the King County Prosecutor,” something Lowery indicates is a “routine step in the process of evaluating each use of deadly force that occurs in King County.”