Federal Way police officer dies following incident with stolen vehicle

Brian Walsh - Courtesy photo
Brian Walsh
— image credit: Courtesy photo

From staff reports:

Federal Way police officer Brian Walsh, 34, died of a heart attack Sunday morning as police investigated a crime scene involving a stolen vehicle.

At 1:15 a.m. March 21, Federal Way police were dispatched to a suspicious vehicle located in the 33300 block of 26th Avenue SW in Federal Way. The vehicle was described as a dark colored Lincoln SUV with two persons sleeping in the back. The vehicle was backed up against an unoccupied residence.

Federal Way police officers responded to the area of the vehicle, which was reported as stolen by the King County Sheriff’s Office. As the officers approached, applied vehicle stopping devices and initiated verbal commands, the driver of the vehicle started the engine and began to flee against the verbal commands of officers. As the vehicle left the area, it struck three Federal Way marked patrol vehicles. Two Federal Way police officers fired their weapons at the driver and the vehicle.

The vehicle was found nearby. The driver was found hiding in a carport area of a residence and was taken into custody without incident by Federal Way police. The suspect driver is a 17-year-old Hispanic male and convicted felon with an extensive criminal history. The suspect suffered a non-life threatening bullet wound to his arm and was transported to Harborview Medical Center. There is currently one suspect occupant from the stolen vehicle at large.

The two Federal Way police officers who discharged their weapons were not injured. They have been placed on paid administrative leave (standard procedure) pending the outcome of an investigation.

While this officer-involved shooting incident was being investigated, Federal Way police officers maintained a perimeter around the crime scene. At approximately 6:45 a.m., officer Brian Walsh was found collapsed in his patrol vehicle.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office reported Monday that Walsh died of probable acute cardiac dysrhythmia (heart attack). Manner of death is considered natural, the office said.

Federal Way police officers initiated CPR, which continued with the arrival of the King County Medic One unit. Officers and medics were unable to revive Walsh, who was pronounced dead at approximately 7:21 a.m. Saturday. Walsh was 34 years old and had been with the Federal Way police for four and a half years. He is survived by his wife, two children and extended family. The couple had a third child due in May.

Walsh, in 2008, inspired tougher state legislation on look-alike weapons pointed at law enforcement officers. On May 10, he was chasing a vehicle prowl suspect when the man pulled a look-alike weapon, pointed it at Walsh and yelled "you better stop following me." The officer fired shots at the suspect, thinking the fake weapon was real. The airsoft pistol used by the suspect did not have an orange tip, as is common among the look-alike toys. Walsh's shots missed the fleeing suspect.

In September of that year, police chief Brian Wilson asked the Legislature to strengthen its law. Now, a person using a look-alike firearm against a police officer is committing a third degree assault. If convicted, the suspect faces a sentence 12 months longer than before Senate Bill 5413 was signed in 2009.


A memorial fund has been established by the Federal Way Police Officer’s Guild. Donations can be made to Officer Walsh’s Memorial Fund at any Key Bank branch location.

An announcement regarding the date, time and location of the memorial service will be made Tuesday, March 23, according to a police spokeswoman.

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