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Inaccurate description of shooting suspect led to unnecessary manhunt

Officers and medical staff take part in a procession for officer Daniel McCartney at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. (Joshua Bessex/The News Tribune via AP)
LISTEN: Inaccurate description of suspect led to unnecessary manhunt

After Pierce County Deputy Daniel McCartney was shot and killed on Sunday night, police spent hours searching the area for the shooting suspect. It turns out, however, that the person they were looking for was already in custody.

Frank William Pawul, 32, was arrested just 10 blocks from the crime scene around 8:00 a.m. Monday morning, The News Tribune reported. At the time, he had three unrelated active warrants for his arrest. Pawul is being held without bail until Thursday, when formal charges of first degree murder are expected, KIRO 7 reports.

RELATED: Suspected getaway driver arrested for connection to burglary that left deputy dead

“He had been arrested and then gave a false name to officers,” KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis said on the Tom and Curley Show on Tuesday. “Officers initially had received an inaccurate description of him, so they were looking literally for someone who didn’t look like this guy.”

It was the initial inaccurate description that led investigators astray throughout the day-long manhunt. Early witness details described the shooting suspect simply as “a black male.”

Later, the description changed to more accurately depict the person involved:

As police investigated Pawul, they realized his likely connection to Sunday night’s shooting and called off the search. Had early details been correct, a manhunt could have been avoided.

But the situation on Monday wasn’t that unusual, Lewis said.

“It’s not always an immediate, sizable manhunt for your average crime,” Lewis said. “If you talk to investigators, you’ll find that they get poor descriptions all the time. Sometimes it’s not intentionally poor. Sometimes people literally don’t remember or they don’t remember what their eyes actually saw.”

“This is why good detectives and investigators ask multiple people,” he added.

McCartney’s body was escorted from the medical examiner’s office in Tacoma to Mountain View Memorial Park in Lakewood.

Images from the procession


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