The court inquest scheduled to probe the fatal Bellevue Police shooting of a man outside his Seattle home in March has been delayed after the victim’s family decided to hire an attorney at the last minute.
An inquest jury was slated this week to begin hearing details of the SWAT shooting of Russell Smith, 51, whose killing at point-blank range was detailed in a Seattle Weekly report last Wednesday, raising questions about police procedures.
Smith, sought for questioning in several Bellevue and Seattle robberies, was shot eight times by SWAT shooters attempting to serve a warrant at 5 a.m. in Columbia City. He was killed in a 21-shot salvo while allegedly attempting to escape in his car down the dead-end street he lived on.
Bellevue officers said Smith attempted to run them down after he sped a short distance backward out of his driveway, slamming into a pickup truck, then coming forward a short distance before his vehicle was riddled with gunfire.
In post-action statements, officers did not report finding a gun on Smith and gave conflicting impressions of his motives for the apparent attempt to escape without an exit route. One officer said Smith gave him an angry look before he drove towards police, while another said Smith put his arms up over his face, covering his eyes – his hands apparently not even on the wheel.
King County Prosecutor’s spokesperson Dan Donohoe said the inquest was delayed after Smith’s daughter hired an attorney late last week, and the court granted the attorney’s request for a continuance.
“We anticipate the inquest being rescheduled to late January or early February,” Donohoe said.