Investigation of Kent Police fatal shooting of armed man nears end

Darren Butrick, 60, died in Nov. 4 shootout outside his home

An investigation into the fatal shooting of an armed man in November by Kent Police is nearing completion.

The Valley Independent Investigative Team turned over materials in late January to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office about the Nov. 4 fatal shooting of Darren A. Butrick, 60, by three officers outside his Kent home after he fired shots at the officers.

“At this juncture, the Valley Independent Investigation Team investigation is still pending,” said Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, in a Feb. 5 email. “Some materials have been submitted for our review, but the immediate purpose for the submittal of those materials is for us to assist the Valley Independent Investigation Team in determining if further investigation should/needs to occur, or if the investigation is, in fact, complete.

“Only after that decision is made regarding the investigation do we move to the next questions – is there a crime here, and what happens next?”

The Valley Independent Investigative Team is a multi-agency team of investigators from seven South King County police departments (Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Port of Seattle and Tukwila). The Kent Police Department is excluded from this investigation because they were the involved agency.

“The investigation has concluded and all investigative reports have been submitted to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review,” according to the latest report from the Valley Independent Investigative Team. “The WSP (Washington State Patrol) Toxicology and Forensic Laboratory reports remain pending and will be forwarded upon receipt.”

Butrick died from seven gunshot wounds in a confrontation with officers who responded to his home to investigate a domestic violence incident. He died from multiple gunshot wounds with recovery of bullet fragments from the abdomen, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report.

All three officers were cleared in early January for return to full duty, according to the investigative team. The officers involved included a 38-year-old officer with 10 years of experience, a 31-year-old officer with six years of experience and a 29-year-old officer with the department since 2019. The officers were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, as is standard procedure for any officer-involved shooting.

Butrick stood near the front door of his home when he fired at officers in the 13000 block of Southeast 204th Place.

None of the shots fired by Butrick, armed with a rifle, hit police vehicles that three officers used as shields before returning fire. A couple of shots did come within a few feet of officers, according to the investigative team. Nine officers responded to the incident and three returned fire with 24 shots from about 70 to 83 feet away. The exchange of gunfire took less than seven seconds. Butrick was found dead just inside the front door.

The rounds fired by Butrick that were recovered struck a nearby pickup truck tire, a flag, a sign and a vehicle trunk lid parked in a nearby residence driveway.

Officers learned upon arriving at the incident that a man was armed with a rifle inside the home. They took positions outside and were able to get the other occupants from within the residence out safely. While officers waited for the SWAT team to respond, Butrick fired multiple shots at officers.

Butrick lived at the home with his wife and other relatives. No other individuals were hurt and no officers were injured as a result of the shooting.

The investigative team has released weekly updates to the media and the Butrick family as the investigation continues. The updates are required by a new state law during police shooting or use-of-force investigations.

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