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King County Executive
Dow Constantine

Inquest ordered into fatal shooting of man in Ravenna area following ramming of patrol car


Fact-finding hearing is customary to determine causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of law enforcement while in performance of duties.


King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the shooting death of Samuel T. Smith by a Seattle Police Officer on July 17, 2015.

Police say officers were searching the Ravenna neighborhood for a subject who had rammed a patrol vehicle on I-5, and an officer located a suspect vehicle in the 6500 block of Ravenna Avenue. According to the investigation, police video shows the occupant charging the officer with a knife and the officer firing shots, fatally wounding Smith.

The King County Prosecutor's Office recommended the inquest after reviewing materials from the Seattle Police Department.

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 Donna Tucker 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.

Read the Executive Order on Conducting Inquests in King County at

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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