Courtesy Matt Nagle
Puyallup tribal member Jacqueline Salyers was fatally shot by Tacoma police January 28. Family, friends and members of the extended Tacoma community have met to plan a March 16 march, “Justice for Jackie,” to demand answers about her death. Here, they are shown on March 1 at the Puyallup Tribe's youth center.

Native Woman Shot Dead by Cop Was Pregnant, Family Learns After Her Burial

Stephanie Woodard

Puyallup tribal member Jacqueline Salyers was pregnant when a Tacoma police officer shot her dead on January 28, an autopsy shows. “He murdered two people, not one,” said Salyers’s uncle James Rideout. “As the news of Jackie’s pregnancy has spread, tribal members and the Tacoma community at large are deeply shocked.”

Even worse, said Rideout, who is acting as family spokesperson, the Tacoma Police Department did not tell the family of the pregnancy when it released Salyers’s body for burial. “We couldn’t lay her child to rest properly as well. If all lives matter, then the life of Jackie’s unborn baby should matter, too.”

Salyers’s family and friends have held two emotional meetings to plan a march from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians homeland to a federal courthouse and police station. The event will begin at 11 a.m. on March 16 at 3009 East 30th Street, in Tacoma. “We will march down state route 509, which is a direct connection from the rez to downtown,” said Rideout. “That means we will shut down a major highway. Someone told us, ‘you don’t want to do that.’ Well, we do.” For more information, go to the family’s Facebook page, Justice for Jackie.

Salyers’s extended family has not been able to grieve in the traditional manner, said Rideout, and that has added to the tragedy. “Normally, at this point, we would have put away the photos and mementoes of the person and after a year would have a giveaway to honor them. But this time, we have to constantly relive, rehash, discuss, figure out everything about Jackie’s death. This is the first time a tribal member has been shot by the Tacoma police. What is the best way to move forward? We’re on edge. But we’re not going away.”

As devastated as Salyers’s family and friends have been, they are hoping to expose police misconduct and improve police-community relations, said Rideout. “People from other vulnerable communities have come to our march-planning meetings and told their stories. We never asked to be a part of this, but we see that what happened to Jackie is happening to others. Somehow, some good has to come out of this.”

According to the Tacoma Police Department, Salyers’s death occurred when Officers Scott Campbell and Aaron Joseph spotted fugitive felon Kenneth Wright in the passenger seat of Salyers’s parked car. The officers stopped their vehicle, and approached the parked car on foot.

According to the department, Salyers then accelerated her car at the officers and Campbell shot her, which caused the car to stop. Wright fled, armed with a rifle. He was apprehended in the Tacoma area on February 15 and is being held on robbery, firearms and drugs charges.

RELATED: Cop Shoots, Kills Native Woman; Family Disputes Police Version

Salyers’s family has challenged the scenario offered by the police. Rideout noted that Associated Press photographs of Salyers’s vehicle do not show gunshot damage to the driver’s side of the windshield, which might indicate someone shooting at a car heading toward him. Instead, the damage is to both sides of the car and to the passenger side of the windshield.

Another uncle, Steve Rideout, pointed out that disabling a driver doesn’t stop a vehicle. “It keeps rolling until it crashes, and there’s no sign that happened.”

More doubts about the police account arose when family members prepared Salyers’s body for burial and discovered multiple injuries. Salyers had been shot in the right temple, near the hairline, and in the right arm; a bullet had grazed her left hand; her right arm was broken, though not by a bullet; and her face was sprinkled with what appeared to be gunshot residue, said cousin Gina Gilman.

“How did all these things happen?” asked James Rideout. “To this day, no one in the police department has contacted us or said one word to us. We want answers.”

RELATED: ‘We Want the Truth,’ Says Grandmother of Native Woman Killed by Cop

Police spokesperson Loretta Cool did not respond to an ICTMN request for a comment on these anomalies in the official account. Cool has told ICTMN that the Tacoma Police Department will release more information when its investigation of the incident is complete. The officers involved were placed on leave but are now back on duty.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



mem's picture
Submitted by mem on
How very sad this cop killed two human beings. One growing inside a mother's womb and one growing on earth. Stop the genocide and oppression by non-Americans.

mem's picture
Submitted by mem on
How very sad this cop killed two human beings. One growing inside a mother's womb and one growing on earth. Stop the genocide and oppression by non-Americans.

Grayhorse's picture
Submitted by Grayhorse on
Prayers to the family. This should have never happened. I pray that you find out what really happen and that Justice be done and the person is brought to Justice and has to pay for this crime.

Claire Webber
Submitted by Claire Webber on
What happened was tragic and for those grieving it's hard to put things into perspective and the woman didn't deserve to die but it's important to be rational and look at the truth of the matter: She was in a car with a fugitive felon and when officers approached the vehicle she accelerated! People state she was innocent yet she was the one behind the wheel with that guy who was armed with a rifle and trying to get away. Terrible things happen in life, people make bad choices, and circumstances don't turn out well. Why was she associated with someone with an extensive criminal background, how were they related? Just wondering why she was in that situation in the first place, at midnight while pregnant. Maybe she really cared about him and was trying to protect him, I get that but we also have to see it from Law Enforcement's point of view. I believe the officers acted appropriately, relying on their training and experience and used lethal force as a last and necessary result.