King County will present a public review of the fatal 2019 deputy shooting of a Black Diamond man during a virtual meeting the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 31, the county council said in an Aug. 27 press release.
The King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, tasked with holding the King County Sheriff’s Office accountable, will deliver the presentation to the county council’s Law & Justice Committee, which is made up of six County Council members.
The review will center on the death of 36-year-old Anthony Chilcott, who was fatally shot by detectives George Alvarez and his partner Josh Lerum in November 2019.
Chilcott, deputies say, had stolen an unlocked truck several days before the shooting, prompting a “be on the lookout” law enforcement alert for him. Alvarez and Lerum found Chilcott on Nov. 25. When they confronted and tried to arrest Chilcott, who was in the truck, a struggle ensued in which both deputies fired their weapons at him.
This April, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht fired one of those detectives, George Alvarez, concluding the deputy’s tactics unnecessarily escalated that situation and likely risked the safety of himself, Lerum, and bystanders nearby. (Lerum was not fired but was reprimanded for not wearing a protective vest and raid jacket during the arrest attempt, a sheriff’s office representative told The Seattle Times.)
Neither Alvarez nor Lerum used excessive or unnecessary force when they shot and killed Chilcott, who could have struck and injured or killed the deputies while trying to drive away, the sheriff concluded. But Alvarez, who led the duo’s tactics in the encounter, should have waited for backup and surveilled Chilcott from a distance, rather than drive up next to him suddenly and escalate the situation, the sheriff found.
“The urgency here was created by your actions, not the actions of the suspect,” Johanknecht wrote in a March 25 notice of termination letter to Alvarez.
“Your actions demonstrated a disregard for the public, your partner and yourself,” she concluded.
Cooper Offenbecher, a Seattle attorney representing Alvarez, told the Seattle Times after the firing that Alvarez planned to challenge his termination. The deputy’s actions that day were necessary and justified due to the danger Chilcott posed to the community, Offenbecher told The Times.
The meeting this Tuesday will go over the Sheriff’s Office’s overall handling of the shooting.
It is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. It will be streamed live and available on King County TV Channel 22 (Comcast Channel 22 and 322 HD).
Public comment can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting https://kingcounty.gov/council/committees/law_justice.aspx. Comments submitted before by 8 a.m. on the day of the meeting will be distributed to staff and council members prior to the meeting.
Comments can also be delivered orally by joining the meeting via Zoom. The meeting ID will be 997 4560 2933, and the password will be 210362, according to the press release.
The County Council’s Law & Justice Committee is chaired by Girmay Zahilay and vice chaired by Kathy Lambert. Its members also include Claudia Balducci, Rod Dembowski, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and District 9 representative Reagan Dunn.