Prosecutor declines to charge officer in killing of Juan Rene Hummel in Bothell

Aug 5, 2022, 1:49 PM | Updated: Aug 8, 2022, 3:07 pm
officer killing Juan Hummel...

The Snohomish County Prosecutors’ office announced that they will not be charging the officer who shot Juan Rene Hummel Jr. in 2020.

Around 7:30 p.m. July 29, 2020, Bothell police received a call about a Hummel trying to force his way into the vehicle of a woman, and when unsuccessful, pulled out a “large pocketknife” and tried to slash the woman’s tires.

An officer was able to locate Hummel, arriving on the scene when Hummel charged at him with the pocket knife, and the officer shot Hummel five times. The whole interaction was caught on a nearby home security camera and lasted less than 10 seconds.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiners’ office later found that Hummel’s blood contained a mixture of amphetamine, morphine, and THC at the time of death.

Hummel also had a history of mental health issues, including schizophrenia, according to an online fundraiser created to help with funeral expenses. In the fundraiser, his family described him as “loving, playful, selfless, encouraging, tech-savvy, fun, and cared so much for the people closest to him.”

The Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, a task force responsible for investigating police use of force, posted the footage on YouTube in Jan. 2021 in response to a public records request formally submitted by the Bothell police chief.

Warning, the video shows the killing of Hummel, which is not recommended for sensitive viewers.

Prosecutor Adam Cornell, when announcing that they would not be pursuing charges against the officer, said that they did not have enough evidence to prove that a crime had been committed,  saying a “similarly situated reasonable officer” would have also believed fatal force was necessary as required under Initiative 940.

In 2018, Initiative 940 was passed to overhaul police use of force, changing the requirements for officers to have “good faith” in their application of force, rather than proving “evil intent”  in their actions. Good faith has been defined as “whether a similarly situated reasonable officer would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual.” The goal was to lower the bar for holding police accountable in the use of force, especially when it involves the death of a civilian.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs fix to amend, clarify I-940

“There was no reasonable alternative to the deadly use of force under the circumstances,” Cornell wrote.

The prosecutor did call Hummel’s death a “tragedy.”

The Bothell Police Department has not responded to a request for comment.

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Prosecutor declines to charge officer in killing of Juan Rene Hummel in Bothell