Inquest Ordered in Fatal Police Shooting of Martin Duckworth

King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Martin Duckworth by Seattle police on August 12, 2013.

As Seattle Weekly wrote at the time: “On a warm sunburst Monday morning at 8:48, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Duckworth, clad in a hood and dark-colored sweatshirt, climbed aboard the Route 27 Metro Transit bus on Third Avenue in front of Benaroya Hall. Eyewitnesses say he paced back and forth, refusing the driver’s request to pay his fare.

“Then, inexplicably, Duckworth lept at the driver, 64-year-old DeLoy Dupuis, and attacked him before turning his revolver on him. He shot Dupuis at least twice, in the cheek and arm. Police chased Duckworth down University and along Second Avenue. They gunned him down in front of 40 startled passengers after he entered another Metro bus at Second and Seneca.

Drug-addled, homeless, with a 10th-grade education, Duckworth, court records show, was arrested 71 times over the past dozen years. Most those arrests involved drug dealing or drug buying, though in March 2007, he was arrested for firing a rock through the window of a Pioneer Square nightclub and then stabbing an employee with a plastic knife, and spent 76 days in jail. He got another 60 days for crack cocaine possession in July 2007.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed investigative materials from the Seattle Police Department.

Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing Executive Order, inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death that involves a member of any law enforcement agency within King County, in the performance of his or her duties.

As the King County Executive Office stated, “Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.”

The order signed by the Executive requests King County District Court Presiding Judge Corinna Harn to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.

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