Sixth officer shooting the county started as a noise complaintPosted: Updated:
YAKIMA, Wash- A shooting early Wednesday morning left one man dead and a police officer on administrative leave. That makes for the sixth officer involved shootings in Yakima County this year, the fifth by Yakima Police.
The 1:15am police stop at the Cascade Apartments on East A Street started out routinely enough. Yakima police say a tenant complained that Stewart Eugene Morgan had been making too much noise. Shortly after the officer made contact with Morgan, everything changed.
"He suddenly was faced with this lethal threat coming his way", says Lt. Mike Merryman of the Yakima Police Department.
The officer says the 54-year-old came attacked him with a knife.
"He gave a very brief command to put it down", says Merryman.
According to the officer, Morgan kept coming, so he shot him in the head.
"That doesn't sound right to me at all, I feel like that's extremely excessive force for someone with a knife", says Jennifer Morgan, the victim's niece.
Morgan lived in a one room apartment. We were in a similar unit, and they barely have standing room when you include a bed and sink area.
"When you're in that close proximity to someone with a knife, there's not a lot of room for negotiation", says Merryman.
Jennifer Morgan and other neighbors told KNDO that attacking a police officer seems out of character for her uncle.
"That doesn't sound like him", she insists.
Morgan however has been convicted of six felonies including manslaughter for the death of his wife. Merryman says neighbors reported that Morgan was a drug user, and might have been intoxicated at the time of his death. Most of his felony convictions were for drug-related crimes. An autopsy performed Wednesday on Morgan confirms that he did die of the gun shot to the head. The toxicology report showing whether he has drugs or alcohol in his system typically takes a few weeks.
According to Merryman, neighbors backed up the officer's story. However it was difficult for us to verify that with the apartment residents. The manager stopped all the residents he could from talking to us. Management either called tenants inside when we tried talking to them or told people heading outside not to talk to us, a threat that carries a lot of weight in low income apartments where many residents don't have other housing options.
The Yakima Police officer in question is on administrative leave while Yakima Police investigate.
Although this shooting is the sixth in the county this year, it is unique. Unlike the others caught on camera or by eyewitnesses, in this shooting, only the officer and the deceased saw what happened.
The Yakima County Prosecutor will review the results of the YPD investigation and determine whether this shooting is justified or not. So far the Prosecutor has rule the four of the shootings he's reviewed justified.
Yakima police won't be releasing the name of the officer involved for a couple of days. Based on the other investigations this year, the results of the inquiry into this shooting will be available in a few months.