The Seattle-King County NAACP is accusing the City of Seattle and its police force of mishandling an encounter with a black man that led to his death.
On Sunday, Feb. 21, Seattle police shot and killed Che Taylor, 46 in the 2200 block of Northeast 85th Avenue. As a felon, Taylor was prohibited from possessing a firearm, and police claim he was spotted with a holstered handgun. They called for backup, approached Taylor and shot him. On Monday, the department released its version of events and a dash cam video of the shooting. On Tuesday afternoon, the Seattle-King County NAACP held a press conference criticizing the Seattle police officers who approached and shot Taylor, among other details of the incident.
“Obviously, our community is outraged. We have seen the video, we have read all the reports,” said Seattle-King County NAACP President Gerald Hankerson. “After looking at the video and seeing all the facts, the Seattle-King County NAACP declare that this is an execution by the Seattle Police Department of a man without giving him due process.”
“This was cold-blooded murder, executed by the Seattle Police Department on Sunday morning,” he said.
Hankerson further invoked the names of other controversial officer-involved deaths such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice.
The NAACP has called in assistance from the James Bible Law Group, which will represent the organization and Taylor’s family. The attorney aims to investigate the shooting.
“What is shameful here is that there has not been a critical evaluation of this video until this point,” James Bible said on Tuesday, further criticizing the video he claims to have watched about 500 times.
Bible said that the orders given to Taylor — orders that he complied with — created a situation that made it appear he was acting nefarious and led to his shooting. He noted that Taylor, at 6’3″ and 240 pounds was approached while he was up against a car, but was not told to back away, rather, to get on the ground at that very spot. As such, Bible said, Taylor had no room to get on the ground as ordered, and that could have created the appearance that he was attempting to get into the vehicle.
“Was he killed for complying with requests of police? What was he to do? Should have turned around so he could actually lay down? Probably not, because he would have been shot,” Bible said. “Should he have stood there and not moved and perhaps gotten beaten by the officer? Potentially, because he might still be alive today.”
Bible further said that the officers in the video were not in uniform, and wielded non-patrol weapons such as shotguns. That indicates to him that the encounter was not a routine response to a suspicious individual.
Hankerson alleged that police acted as judge and jury without giving Taylor an opportunity to enter the justice system. He said that the video provided only shows nine seconds of the incident, and the NAACP would like to see all videos police have of the shooting — he believes there are more. He said that all the facts in the case have not been provided to the public, and he faults the City of Seattle for a lack of transparency in the matter.
Hankerson also called out the media for how the shooting was reported, arguing that the focus was on the fact that Taylor was a felon — Taylor had been convicted of assault, robbery and rape, according to Seattle police. Seattle police report that Taylor was spotted with a holstered handgun, something he was legally barred from as a felon. But Hankerson said those facts are irrelevant and by mentioning them, the media promoted that the killing was justified.
“Let me be clear, from the NAACP, whatever happened, whatever he did in life, wherever he went in life, whatever transpired before that man lost his life is irrelevant to us,” Hankerson said. “What matters to us is that you have a process in place called the court of law.”
Bible also said that Taylor’s death was reported in an unfair way.
“Instead of evaluating what (police) could have done better, a slander campaign seems to have been launched,” Bible said.
Hankerson said that the investigation will probe all evidence and review all witnesses to the encounter, as they are skeptical of the Seattle Police Department’s version of events.
“Why did you shoot him? Where was the gun? All I’ve seen so far is a display table with guns and so-called drugs laying on the table,” Hankerson said. “As far as I’m concerned, you could have went and gotten that out of the police supply closet. Show me some evidence that it was on him.”
“This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable in America. It is it unacceptable in Seattle,” he said. “And we are not going to take this anymore. We are done. We are not taking it anymore.”