Sedro-Woolley officer won’t face charges after shooting, killing man during February traffic stop

The Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that a Sedro-Woolley police officer will not face charges after shooting and killing a man during a traffic stop in February.

According to court documents, the incident began just after 11 p.m. on February 16 in Mount Vernon when two Mount Vernon Police Department officers saw a Nissan Pathfinder traveling on College Way.

The officers noticed the license plates did not match the vehicle and activated “emergency equipment” to try and stop the driver of the Pathfinder.

The driver fled onto I-5 and officers backed off.

According to the prosecuting attorney’s office, Skagit County sheriff’s deputies and Sedro-Woolley Police Department officers followed the driver for over 20 miles on state highways and city and county roads.

Authorities did not use their lights or sirens in their attempt to stop the driver, but “merely followed to keep track of him,” according to the prosecuting attorney’s office.

Sedro-Woolley police officers set up spike strips on the corner of Fruitdale Road and McGarigle Street in Sedro-Woolley. As the driver approached, he saw the two officers placing spike strips in the road, and two patrol cars.

According to documents, the driver left the roadway to avoid the spike strips and headed directly toward one of the officers.

The officer moved to the west, and the driver followed. The officer dropped his spike strips, drew his gun and fired nine times in approximately two seconds.

The driver crashed into a patrol car before spinning around and coming to rest against a telephone pole. He was airlifted to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Bellingham where he later died from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

“Based on the science regarding perception response time, I believe (the officer’s) decision to shoot was a direct reaction to the vehicle coming straight at him and that his firearm tracked that deadly threat as he fired his weapon,” Richard A. Weyrich, Skagit County prosecuting attorney, said in his conclusion. “It is my decision that (the officer) acted in ‘good faith’ in using deadly force.”