Jack Sun Keewatinawin, 21, was shot by Seattle Police Department officers on February 26th near the North Seattle home he shared with his father Henry Lee Northwind, when he confronted officers with an 18-inch piece of rebar which, according to reports, had been given to him by his father.
Police had been called to the scene by two of Keewatinawin’s brothers who each, according to the 911 recordings, informed the dispatcher of his mental illness and his history of violence. Keewatinawin, according to the 911 recordings, had called two of his brothers and told them that he was holding their father in the house he shared with his dad and had a knife held to the father’s throat.
“My little brother just called me…he’s schizophrenic and he’s very violent…I think he’s got my dad hostage.”
“My dad’s being killed right now, please! My, my brother’s schizophrenic and he’s flipping out and he’s got a knife to him!” When asked if there were any other weapons the caller said, “I don’t know, probably.”
On the second 911 call, the dispatcher asked one of Keewatinawin’s brothers, “Is there any reason why you can’t go up there and check it out?”
Caller: “I don’t drive and I guarantee you it’s going to be a violent situation. I have children that I need to take care of.”
Recent statements, as reported by the examiner.com, by the brothers, Montano Rojo Northwind and Hawk Firstrider, state they now,”know that their brother was not holding their father hostage or threatening him.”
Seattle Police officer Tyler Speer has been Crisis Intervention trained and Speer reportedly made efforts to speak with Keewatinawin which were unsuccessful. Officers then employed Tasers but the barbs were unable to pierce Keewatinawin’s clothing. Officers tried again to Taser Keewatinawin as he moved to the front lawn near his home. One of the officers, Officer Michael Spaulding, slipped on the grass, falling with one leg bent behind him. According to police accounts, Keewatinawin then raised the 18-inch rebar over his head and advanced toward the fallen officer. Spaulding shot Keewatinawin twice with his shotgun and two other officers, Stephen Sperry and Tyler Speer opened fire with handguns. According to Metz, the officers fired eight or nine shots at Keewatinawin. Keewatinawin was taken to a local hospital where he died from the gunshots inflicted on him.
Neighbor Chuck Bagi, was quoted in the Seattle Times, “I think it’s highly suspect when you fire off eight rounds in a cul-de-sac full of kids. It’s a complete overreaction. It’s a reckless use of force” noting that one bullet had gone through the window of a nearby house and another through the side of the same house.
According to Deputy Chief Nick Metz at a recent news conference, there will be an inquest into the shooting. All three officers involved in the shooting are now on routine paid administrative leave pending review.
The City of Seattle and the Department of Justice reached a settlement as a result of the shooting of John T. Williams, a homeless carver who was shot in the back by a former SPD Officer, requiring Seattle Police to consider alternatives to the use of force and to find solutions that could possibly reduce severity of confrontations.
According to their website, the next meeting of the SPD Native American Advisory Council is on April 17th.The council was formed, “to promote mutual understanding, respect, education and communication between the Native American community and the Seattle Police Department.”