Native With Mental Illness Fatally Shot as Seattle Police Respond to 911 Calls
On February 26, Seattle Police made news again as they answered 911 calls for a domestic disturbance which ended in the fatal shooting of a 21-year-old mentally ill Cree man according to The Seattle Times.
Jack Keewatinawin, who lived in a quiet cul-de-sac with his father according to neighbors and reported by The Seattle Times was a paranoid schizophrenic who was “always scared” of the demons and ghosts that haunted him but was never someone the community feared.
Keewatinawin, who recently plead guilty to third-degree assault with sexual motivation in May, was wanted on an arrest warrant issued in January after failing to report to his community corrections officer and service provider.
According to the Seattle Police Department, officers on the scene tried to use a Taser to subdue Keewatinawin but it was not effective. Keewatinawin then ran away and the officers chased him down and tried again to no avail. In a dimly lit area, an officer slipped on the ground falling on his back near Keewatinawin.
“The suspect withdrew a long piece of metal from his beltline and raised it over his head, and came toward the officer,” police said February 27 according to The Seattle Times. “The three officers were forced to fire their weapons to defend themselves, striking the suspect.”
Neighbors have questioned the shooting saying it was “totally unacceptable” and that officers should have known Keewatinawin’s condition as they’ve been called to the house on multiple occasions when he was off his medication to talk to him, before he was taken to the hospital.
The 911 calls came from Keewatinawin’s brothers who were worried Keewatinawin was going to kill their dad.
“My dad is being killed right now, please!” one brother said in his 911 call according to seattlepi.com. “My brother’s schizophrenic and he’s flipping out and he’s got a knife to him.”
According to the Seattle Police Deputy Chief Nick Metz the time span from when officers first approached Keewatinawin to when he was shot was less than 30 seconds and that it was not clear if the first officers on the scene were aware of the victim’s mental illness and history reported seatlepi.com.
Keewatinawin is the second American Indian fatally shot by the Seattle Police Department, as John T. Williams was shot and killed in 2010. In July a settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and the city of Seattle was passed that requires officers try and de-escalate confrontations within safe bounds, and decrease their use of force.
Indian Country Today Media Network will have more on this developing story in the following days.
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