King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Damarius Butts, of Kent, by Seattle Police officers on April 20.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended the inquest after reviewing an internal investigation.
Butts died from multiple gunshot wounds after a reported shootout with Seattle Police when he fled from a 7-Eleven store, 627 First Ave., in downtown Seattle.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing executive order, inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while performing his or her duty, according to a county press release.
Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.
The order signed by the executive requests that King County District Court Presiding Judge Donna Tucker assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest. The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code.