by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:
A Seattle officer who shot an unarmed female assault suspect in the leg unintentionally fired his handgun, police said Thursday afternoon.
The incident started shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday when a man called 911 from a motel near North 120th Street and Aurora Avenue North. Police said the man claimed "someone detonated an incendiary device," then hung up.
"Four minutes into the call, as police hurried to the scene of the reported incendiary explosion, one officer responding to the incident spotted a 19-year-old woman punching another woman on the sidewalk near 120th and Aurora," department spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee said in a statement. "When one of the women involved in the brawl took off running across the street, the officer jumped out of his patrol car and pursued her on foot and approached the woman in the parking lot of a nearby business."
Police said the woman refused to show her hands to show she wasn't armed, and the officer – who was not named by the department -- drew his gun.
"While drawing his gun, the officer unintentionally fired one shot, striking the woman in the leg," Spangenthal-Lee said. "The officer immediately radioed for medics and offered his apologies to the woman for the very regrettable incident."
The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening. She was not armed.
"Because the woman was a suspect in an assault, officers ran her name and learned she was wanted by police in Snohomish County for several felony warrants," Spangenthal-Lee said. "As a result of the woman's felony warrant status, Seattle police were required by law to contact Snohomish County police, who requested that Seattle police book the woman into jail for the warrants."
The 29-year-old officer who shot her is on paid administrative leave, which is standard in officer-involved shooting investigations. He has been with the department for a year and a half. The gun he used was taken as evidence.
"Police have determined the original report of an incendiary explosion was, in fact, a false report made by an individual believed to be suffering from mental health issues," Spangenthal-Lee said.