Probe into police shooting of mentally ill man begins

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Panelists heard about zombies, nuclear weapons and anti-government propaganda on day one of an inquest into a Seattle police shooting in July 2013.

First, prosecutors played the dramatic 911 call a neighbor of Joel Reuter made, after he saw Reuter with a gun at about 2 in the morning July 5. As he called police, he heard shots coming from Reuter's apartment. Police arrived and Reuter barricaded himself inside his Capitol Hill condo, pacing on his balcony holding the gun. Eventually, he fired at police and a police sniper killed him. During day one of the inquest Tuesday, neighbors like Adam Kelly testified they heard loud anti-government propaganda coming from Reuter's window, hours before police confronted him.

"It didn't sound like well thought out reasoned arguments against government," Kelly said. "It was definitely more conspiracy theory style thing." Kelly also said Reuter had put up a poster in the building before July 5 warning he could control nuclear weapons and would bomb "Pennsylvania" July 4.

Seattle Police Officer Vanessa Flick said when she and other officers arrived, Reuter only turned up the volume on the propaganda and began "dry firing" his unloaded gun. Flick said then Reuter called 911. "It was him saying there's people outside claiming to be Seattle police officers, and he had a gun in his hand with the safety off," Flick said. "He also made a comment to dispatch that there were "zombie police officers outside."

Reuter's parents spoke only to KIRO 7 after the shooting. They said their son is bipolar and blame Washington's laws that prevented them and police officers from committing their son long term before the shooting.

 The inquest will last until Thursday. At the end of the proceeding, panelists will answer questions about whether authorities could have done anything better. There will be no civil or criminal charges.

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