The Snohomish County Prosecutor said he won’t pursue charges against a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office deputy who last October shot and killed an Edmonds man in unincorporated Snohomish County.
In a memorandum to the Snohomish Multi-Agency Response Team charged with investigating the incident, Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell said there is “insufficient admissible evidence to prove a crime was committed” in the Oct. 23, 2018 shooting death of Nickolas Peters.
My Edmonds News had filed a public records request for documents related to the case, and received them Wednesday.
According to public documents, the incident began when deputies were called to a disturbance at 196th Place Southwest and 6th Drive Southeast. A pick-up truck driven by Peters, 24, left the area and a pursuit ensued with high speeds in unincorporated Snohomish County. A deputy rammed the truck twice, stopping it near the intersection of North Damson Road and Filbert Road. Police documents say that Peters continued to rev the truck engine despite commands by deputies to turn it off.
Deputies also said they ordered Peters to put his hands up numerous times. When Peters didn’t comply, Sheriff’s Deputy Art Wallin shot him. Peters was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he later died. A passenger in Peters’ vehicle, Britt Jakobsen, was uninjured during the incident.
“Willfully and wantonly endangering himself, Ms. Jakobsen, law enforcement officers, and the public, Mr. Peters engaged in intentional, reckless, and violent felony conduct during a lengthy pursuit that included extraordinary efforts to escape capture,” Cornell wrote in his memorandum to the SWAT team.
Cornell also wrote that Wallin had reason to believe he was in danger when he shot Peters, adding that “a jury would likely find that Deputy Wallin, under the totality of the circumstances, was justified in using the force that resulted in Mr. Peter’s death.”
Cornell did note that the incident occurred just two weeks before voters passed Initiative 940, which changed the standards for use of deadly force by police officers. The measure, which was later amended by the Washington State Legislature, can’t be applied retroactively. As a result, Cornell said, his legal analysis must be based on the former statue governing police officer use of force, which requires proof that a police officer acted with “malice” in order to bring criminal charges.
Jakobsen, the passenger in Peters’ car, has said she and Peters were complying with officers’ commands when Wallin fired the shots. However, Cornell said her recollections are “at odds with the other testimonial evidence, including that provided by a neutral eyewitness. I believe a neutral and rational fact finder would likely weigh this evidence in favor of the other witnesses, not Ms. Jakobsen.”
According to our online news partner The Seattle Times, Peters’ parents, Jayni and Carl Peters, have filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against Wallin and the sheriff’s office. The lawsuit alleges that, at the time he was shot, Nickolas Peters “was not threatening the deputies” and that they should have resorted to less-than-lethal force, if force was necessary, The Times said. The parents’ attorneys, Phil Arnold and Jeff Campiche, harshly criticized Cornell’s decision not to file criminal charges against the deputy, who they say has a history of discipline and allegations of use of excessive force, the story said.
Wallin is still on administrative leave, pending an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office, The Times said.