For Immediate Release: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Contact: Rachael DeCruz, firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-451-9455
Seattle King County NAACP Disappointed But Not Surprised by Prosecutor's Decision
Underscores the Need to Change the WA. State Deadly Use of Force Law
Seattle, WA--On Tuesday morning, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced that he will not charge the officers involved in the police killing of Che Taylor. This decision came after an inquest was held in early February to look into the facts surrounding the death of Taylor. In response, the Seattle King County NAACP released the following statement:
"We are deeply disappointed that the officers responsible for the shooting death of Che Taylor will not be held accountable, but we can't say that we're surprised. It proves what we've known all along: that our criminal justice system is set-up to protect police officers, even when it comes at the expense of protecting the community.
The NAACP stated at the time of the inquest that we deserved answers from Seattle Police Department (SPD) to fill in the gaping holes that exist in their version of the story. The answers that we got from the inquest: The all-white jury unanimously agreed that (1) Officer Michael Spaulding did not observe Che Taylor wearing a holstered handgun on his right hip (Question 10), (2) Officer Scott Miller did not see Mr. Taylor move his right hand to his right hip area (Question 41), (3) Taylor was complying with officers demands when he was shot (Questions 33 and 34), and (4) Taylor was not carrying a gun when he was shot (Questions 46 and 47). SPD’s own video footage confirms that Taylor was doing what the officers asked when he was shot and killed—ask any prosecutor, evidence does not get better than a killing caught on tape.
In broad daylight, police shot an unarmed man who was doing what police asked. Yet, no murder charge. No criminal consequences at all. No justice for Che Taylor or his family. Our question is simple: if not in this case, when?
Today, King County Prosecutor Satterberg failed to press charges against the officers responsible for killing Che Taylor, just like he did back in 2011 when he chose not to press charges against Officer Ian Birk who killed John T. Williams (despite the fact that the police department found the shooting unjustified). The death of Williams is what triggered the Department of Justice investigation into SPD; now, six years later and despite a consent decree, we're still seeing the same results.
This represents a long and troubling pattern of prosecutors refusing to hold police officers accountable for the senseless deaths of people of color across our country, from Ferguson to Seattle. We need prosecutors to have the political courage to do the right thing; to hold officers accountable to the law and ensure that transparency and faith are restored in our justice system. If Satterberg can't commit to holding police officers accountable and restoring community trust in our justice system, maybe it's time to elect someone who can.
The prosecutor's decision clearly indicates that we need to change the Washington State deadly use of force law to remove references to malice and good faith, creating a clear pathway to accountability and transparency within our police department. This is not simply about the senseless death of Che Taylor. It's about fixing our criminal justice system so that it actually makes our communities safer, instead of leaving people of color vulnerable to police brutality and excessive use of force."
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. More information about the Seattle King County NAACP can be found here: www.seattlekingcountynaacp.org