Kent store manager dies from injuries suffered chasing shoplifter | Police search for suspect
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
August 1, 2011 · Updated 4:11 PM
Kent Police are asking for the public’s help to identify a man associated with a recent shoplift on the East Hill when a retail store manager chased the suspect and died from injuries suffered in a fall off a retaining wall near the store.
The reported shoplift was at about 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28 at the Rite Aid store, 10407 S.E. 256 St.
Detectives are still trying to determine what role the suspect might have played in the death of Brody Koga, 52, of SeaTac, the Rite Aid manager, who ran after the man and died from injuries suffered after he fell off a retaining wall, said Kent Police Lt. Pat Lowery.
Police believe a man and woman entered the store separately, according to an Aug. 1 Kent Police media release. A woman started a disturbance with store employees near the front of the store.
During the disturbance, a man ran behind a counter area, grabbing two cartons of cigarettes before heading toward the door.
Koga gave chase and followed the suspect toward an adjoining parking lot. Witnesses then saw the two men drop or fall from sight. Moments later, Koga was found lying on the ground at the base of a 6-foot high retaining wall, unconscious and bleeding from the head.
Paramedics transported Koga to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Family members decided to take Koga off life support, Lowery said. The King County Medical Examiner's Office told Kent Police Sunday that Koga had died.
A witness saw the theft suspect running from the area. The woman also escaped the store in the ensuing commotion, but has since been identified.
Based on witness accounts and video, police are looking for a white man in his early 20s, 5 feet 6 inches tall, 145 pounds and with light brown hair. At the time of the theft, he was wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt with a yellow Nike logo on the chest.
“This is a real tragedy,” Lowery said in a media release. “And our hope is that the public can point us in the right direction to locate this man."
Once the man is identified; police will turn the case over to King County prosecutors for review and consideration of charges.
"We want to find out his (the suspect's) involvement when Mr. Koga went off the wall," Lowery said.
It remains to be determined whether the suspect would face any charge connected with the death of Koga.
Lowery said no charge can be filed against the man because he fled from the store and another man was injured chasing him unless the suspect's actions caused the injuries during some type of struggle between the two.
"So far from witness accounts we don't know that anything like that happened," Lowery said. "We are re-interviewing witnesses now and we want to talk to the suspect to see what he can fill in."
Kent Police ask that anyone recognizing the man contact Kent detectives immediately. Tips can be left at 253-856-5808.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.