The King County inquest into the death of Miguel Barraza-Lugo by a Kent Police officer is scheduled to run from Nov. 8 through Nov. 17.
Proceedings, in front of an inquest jury, will take place in the Conference Center at the Clark Children and Family Justice Center, 1211 E. Alder St. in Seattle.
Barraza-Lugo, 37, of Kent, was killed in an alleged exchange of gunfire with Kent Police on Jan. 7, 2019. He died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office.
A Kent officer shot Barraza-Lugo after a hit-and-run case that started in Auburn and ended in the 9500 block of Canyon Drive in Kent. Officers were able to stop the vehicle by using a pursuit intervention technique, according to a Kent Police news release at the time.
As officers attempted to contact Barraza-Lugo, he reportedly fired at least one shot at an officer. The officer responded by firing back, according to the news release. Officers recovered a gun at the scene, according to police. No officers were injured.
Inquest documents identified the officer as Matthew Kilner, who will be represented by attorney Jeremy Culumber, of the Seattle law firm Keating, Bucklin and McCormack. Culumber, whose practice includes a focus on police liability, also will represent the city of Kent.
The family of Barrasa-Lugo will be represented by attorney Paul Holland.
Kilner retired in August 2022 from the Kent Police Department after 12 years, according to his retirement letter, part of the city of Kent Civil Service Commission documents.
King County inquests into deaths caused by law enforcement officers resumed in 2022 after a delay of more than four years. Lawsuits by the cities of Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and Renton challenged King County Executive Dow Constantine’s new order to change the inquests to address concerns of fairness and transparency and push forward with a new process built on stakeholder and community input.
The new program was delayed until the Washington Supreme Court reaffirmed the executive’s order in July 2021.
The purpose of an inquest is to shed light on the facts and circumstances surrounding a death at the hands of law enforcement and facilitate public understanding of these events. At the conclusion of the proceedings, an inquest jury answers a series of questions called interrogatories as directed by the inquest administrator. These interrogatories result in the issuance of a series of findings. The findings may include whether the law enforcement officers acted in line with their agency’s policies and training and whether the death was a result of criminal means.
In addition to the Barrasa-Lugo inquests, there are 15 other pending cases, according to King County.
Second Kent inquest
This marks the second inquest in 2023 into a fatal shooting by Kent Police.
An inquest jury in May ruled that Kent Officer Jacob Reed was justified in his shooting of Eugene Nelson, 20, of Seattle, after he reportedly tried to flee in a vehicle while dragging an officer. The jury believed Reed thought other officers might have been struck by the vehicle, although none were.
The jury concluded Reed feared for his life and the lives of other officers during the Aug. 9, 2017 incident outside of a hookah bar in the 23600 block of 104th Avenue Southeast. Reed climbed into the vehicle occupied by Nelson and fired nine shots into Nelson, according to inquest testimony. Prior to firing his gun, Reed tried applying a lateral vascular neck restraint but that failed to stop Nelson.
Officers had responded to a call about a possible violation of a domestic violence no-contact order by Nelson.
Culumber, who will represent Officer Kilner, also represented Reed.
Reed worked for the Kent Police from 2016 to 2021 prior to leaving for a job as a deputy with the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office in Montana, according to inquest testimony. He was a reserve deputy in Missoula prior to coming to Kent.