News

Mail-theft investigation waiting for review of police shooting

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

The mail-theft suspect shot earlier this week by Federal Way Police officers after he pointed a gun at them might not have fired it, according to an Auburn Police official.

The Auburn Police Department is investigating the May 29 shooting that involved two Federal Way officers and a man in his 20s who was seen by residents allegedly walking along South 356th Street and stealing mail from mailboxes.

According to Sgt. Bill Pierson, it appears the suspect didn’t fire his weapon, but “nothing leads us to believe the shooting was unjustified,” he said.

The man, whose identity hasn’t been released, was hospitalized with gunshot wounds but survived, according to Federal Way Police spokeswoman Stacy Flores.

Flores didn’t know the suspect’s current status or if he was still in the hospital.

When the officers attempted to stop the man, he became uncooperative and struggled. According to Federal Way Police, during the fight the suspect pulled out a firearm and pointed it at the officers. They drew their side arms and fired several shots at the suspect and hit him. He ran a short distance but collapsed from his injuries. He was taken to a trauma center and was reported to be in critical condition.

The Federal Way department will run its investigation of the alleged mail theft after the Auburn department concludes its review of the shooting, Flores said.

Whether the suspect was working on his own or with a larger group of mail thieves remains unknown. It is also unclear why he was stealing mail.

Pierson said the law enforcement chiefs in King County have an agreement, in order to avoid the appearance of bias, that another police agency will investigate when officers use deadly force.

In this week’s incident involving Federal Way, Auburn has three investigators gathering information and interviewing those involved in the case. Pierson said the Federal Way officers –– Scott Parker, a 19-year veteran of police work, and Matt Leitgeb, a second-year officer –– hadn’t been interviewed as of Thursday.

The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, the normal policy when officers are involved in a shooting, according to Federal Way Police officials.

Once the investigation into the shooting is complete, the matter will be forwarded to the King County prosecuting attorney to determine if any charges will be filed against the officers.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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