King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Jonathan Whitehead by state troopers on June 16.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Jonathan Whitehead by Washington State Patrol troopers on June 16, 2014.
According to the police investigation, troopers responded to a call of a man who had stopped in the southbound lanes of the Ship Canal Bridge and set his truck on fire. Police say the 33-year-old man was fatally shot after threatening troopers with a hunting knife.
The King County Prosecutor’s office recommended the inquest after reviewing materials from the Seattle Police Department, which conducted the investigation.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing Executive Order, inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while in the performance of his or her duties.
Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.
The order signed by the Executive requests King County District Court Presiding Judge Corinna Harn to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.
The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code.