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Report: Gun seized in Che Taylor shooting traced to former sheriff’s deputy

Che Taylor, who was shot to death earlier this year in North Seattle after police said he was reaching for a gun, had a handgun that was originally purchased by a former King County sheriff’s deputy, The Seattle Times reports. (SPD)

The felon shot to death earlier this year in North Seattle after police said he was reaching for a gun had a handgun that was originally purchased by a former King County sheriff’s deputy, The Seattle Times reported.

The former deputy, Daniel J. Murphy, who was fired by the Sheriff’s Office last year as a result of an unrelated domestic dispute, strongly disputes the claim, saying through an attorney he is the victim of mistaken identity, according to an article from Times reporter Steve Miletich.

A civilian witness also told police the felon, Che Taylor, was reaching for a gun in his waistband when he was shot February 21 after a suspect drug deal. Taylor was prohibited from carrying a handgun because he was convicted of rape, assault and robbery.

Police evidence photos shows the suspected drugs found with Taylor. The shooting happened in the 2000 block of Northeast 85th Street, part of Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood.

Taylor, 47, exited his black Dodge Magnum and officers said they saw a handgun in his waistband. They planned to apprehend Taylor when he returned to his vehicle.

A white Ford Taurus arrived and Taylor sat in the front passenger seat. Officers said they briefly lost sight of him. He stepped out of the Taurus as officers moved in to make the arrest.

Video shows Taylor crouching toward the passenger side floorboard and two officers simultaneously shooting. Two others in the Taurus were not injured.

An occupant from the backseat told investigators that Taylor was observed “with a black 9mm handgun in his waistband and when officers were ordering them to put their hands up, Taylor wasn’t putting his hands up and instead began to pull the gun from his waistband and then the shooting occurred,” according to the affidavit.

Staff at Harborview Medical Center, where Taylor died, located a black bag around his neck that contained three golf-ball sized baggies of suspected heroin and three golf-ball sized baggies of suspected crack cocaine.

When officers were taking the driver into custody a plastic baggie containing suspected heroin was found in his possession, police said.

Members of the NAACP protested earlier this year outside Seattle Police Headquarters, calling for the resignation of Chief Kathleen O’Toole. NAACP president Gerald Hankerson said the group hired a law firm to investigate the death.

“I’m thankful there was a witness there, or maybe more, who are willing to tell the truth, to state honestly what they saw and there’s no doubt in my mind those officers felt threatened,” Seattle Police Officers’ Guild president Ron Smith said.

NAACP attorney and former president James Bible told KIRO 7 the eyewitness may have said what police wanted to hear. Bible said there also have been multiple accounts of what happened during the fatal shooting.

“First he’s got a gun on him, second he has a gun within reach, next he was reaching into the car – oh no, he wasn’t reaching in to the car, the gun was on him,” Bible said Tuesday. “The message is ever shifting, but ultimately we can’t trust the police department.”

However, written police statements show little variance.

The day of the shooting police said that officers “contacted the man who refused commands. Two officers fired at the suspect during the confrontation.”

The following day, police released the following text as part of a larger statement:

“Officers ordered Taylor to show his hands and get on the ground. He did not follow officers’ commands, and instead leaned into the Taurus. According to officers, as well as a civilian witness interviewed by investigators, Taylor reached for his handgun, leading officers to fire. Officers detained the other two people in the car and called for medics.”

Taylor’s brother, André, posted a video on Facebook telling officers, “I guarantee retribution is coming to your door.”

“It won’t be by my hands,” André said. “But I promise you by the hand of the almighty God, you, you and your country and your system will fall.”

He also says in the video that officers train to shoot to kill, “especially if it’s a black man.” He calls officers “human animals.”

Seattle police have not responded to those specific claims.

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