The Des Moines Police Department in Washington is leading an investigation into the fatal shooting of an African-American college student, which has gone largely unnoticed outside the Seattle area, the Huffington Post reports.
A Kent, Washington police officer shot Giovonn Joseph-McDade, a 20-year-old Green River College student, on June 24 after a car chase. He’s the third person of color fatally shot by King County police officers in June, the outlet noted.
A police officer initially stopped McDade for driving a suspected stolen vehicle, Des Moines Police Department Assistant Police Chief Bob Bohl told The Post.
The Honda that McDade was driving turned out not to be stolen, but the police said McDade drove off during the traffic stop. At that point, Bohl explained, “it became a felony eluding crime.” The officer pursued him, and was soon joined by a second officer in the chase.
The officers used a pursuit intervention technique, or PIT, to stop MacDade, which succeed on a second attempt in a residential cul-de-sac. The maneuver involves the patrol car bumping the rear-side of the car being chased to cause a spinout to stop the car.
According to the Des Moines police, one officer stepped out of his vehicle after the stop and ordered McDade and his passenger, Devonte Cheeks, to exit their car. But McDade continued to drive, and the office fired two shots. Both bullets hit McDade, and he died at the scene.
There is no police dashcam video. A home surveillance system, however, captured only a portion of what happened. The flashing lights from the police vehicle makes it difficult to see how the shooting unfolded.
Cheeks was unharmed. The police arrested him on an unrelated warrant, but he has been released from jail, the Seattle Times reported. Officers said they found nearly 5 grams of methamphetamine in McDade’s wallet and almost 70 grams of marijuana. There is so far no indication that either Cheeks or McDade had a weapon.
The Stranger, a Seattle news outlet, has been following this case closely. One of the questions that investigators must evaluate is the officers’ decision to use a PIT maneuver, which the outlet said is restricted to specially trained officers and forbidden at certain speeds.
Investigators must also determine whether firing at the vehicle was an excessive use of force.
According to The Post, McDade’s family retained civil rights attorney Tim Ford, who was not available for comment.
The Times said both officers are on paid administrative leave during the investigation.
On June 13, a King County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Tommy Le, 20, who was holding a pen that officers say they thought was a weapon. And days later, two Seattle police officers fatally shot Charleena Lyles, a mother of four, who was struggling with mental illness.