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Sheriff rehires deputy fired for fatal shooting

Sheriff Fortney (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney has rehired a deputy who was fired for a fatal shooting.

Deputy Art Wallin shot and killed Nickolas Peters, 24, in October 2018. Wallin was terminated after a report found the shooting was not a warranted. KIRO 7 reports Wallin was reinstated as a deputy sheriff K-9 handler with the Snohomish County Sheriff on Friday – two weeks after Peters’ family settled a federal civil rights lawsuit against the county for $1 million.

On Tuesday, Sheriff Fortney released a statement, in part: “Wallin never should have been terminated in the first place.  Deputy sheriffs are expected to make split second decisions in situations which are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.”

Peters’ family says they’re “concerned” now that Wallin has his job back.  The family’s attorney, Jeff Campiche, said he has reviewed the case files and there is no reason to re-instate the Wallin.

Sheriff Fortney told KTTH’s Jason Rantz that he knew he would learn more after taking office that wasn’t available to him prior to the November election. He said he went into the review process with an open mind and concluded that Wallin’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances that Peters put him in on the night of the shooting. Fortney wrote in a news release:

  1. Deputy Wallin’s pursuit of the suspect was within policy because the suspect was under the influence of alcohol or drugs and posed a danger to other drivers on the road, and the suspect was using his truck as a weapon (purposefully ramming patrol vehicles) posing a credible threat to responding deputies and the public;
  2. Deputy Wallin’s decision to use deadly force was within policy because he was protecting his partner and the community from an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.

KIRO 7 reports that Sheriff Ty Trenary wrote to Wallin after a report on the shooting was released explaining the inconsistencies and missteps that led to his termination.

According to KIRO 7, Trenary wrote, “The use of deadly force is to be done with great reservations and using it here, when the events do not appear to have warranted it, is more than just a regrettable mistake, it is a loss that cannot be undone.”

“There’s no new evidence,” Campiche said. “And the report is very clear that that report was not available to the prosecutor when he chose not to file charges.”

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott and KIRO 7 contributed to this report.

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