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No Charges Against Seattle Cops Who Shot Che Taylor

Elaine Thompson
Andre Taylor speaks to reporters at the King County courthouse after prosecutors announce that they will not pursue criminal charges against the Seattle Police officers who shot his brother, Che Taylor, last year.

There will be no criminal charges against two Seattle police officers who shot and killed 46-year-old Che Taylor during an arrest last year in the Wegwood neighborhood.

Taylor was black. The two officers who shot him are white. The decision comes after a King County inquest last month into his death.

County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said that process and other evidence keeps him from pursuing criminal charges under the law. Specifically, the prosecutor said the officers reasonably believed their life was in danger and their fear justified their actions.

"While we might wish that this encounter had a different outcome, this is not, as a legal question, a close case," Satterberg said.

The prosecutor said it was not his place to comment on police tactics or policy. A Seattle Police review found the shooting to be within department policy.

Taylor's family says they're "insulted" by Satterberg's comment that the legal decision wasn't close. Che Taylor's brother, Andre Taylor, said the prosecutor's decision sends the wrong message to the community.

"Not just just the black community, not just the Native community, not just the Latino community -- all communities," Andre Taylor said. 

That message, he said, is "that in Washington state, there is nothing that an officer can do that makes his behavior wrong when he chooses to use deadly force."

The family and other groups, including the NAACP, have called for the state to reform its deadly force laws. Several bills that would have made it easier to prosecute officers have stalled in the legislature.

During the inquest, officers Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding said they saw Che Taylor with a holstered handgun. They moved to arrest him because he was a felon who was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Taylor was standing in the space between a car and its open door and leaned down. The officers ordered him to show his hands and  get to the ground.

Prosecutors say he raised his hands just above his chest area.

Police dashboard video shows Taylor lowering his body below the doorframe, and that's when officers opened fire.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.