Officials: Police bullet killed LEO during gunfight with suspect

Officer Jonathan Shoop was fatally shot July 13 after a traffic stop turned into a brief pursuit


By Paige Cornwell
The Seattle Times

BOTHELL, Wash. — Bothell police Officer Jonathan Shoop was fatally shot in the head Monday by a round fired by a fellow officer during a gunfight with Henry Eugene Washington, who has been charged with aggravated first-degree murder, investigators said Friday.

Shoop, 32, was shot in downtown Bothell after a traffic stop turned into a brief car chase that ended with gunfire.

Officer Jonathan Shoop, 32, served with the Bothell Police Department in Bothell, Washington for one year. (Photo/Bothell Police Department)
Officer Jonathan Shoop, 32, served with the Bothell Police Department in Bothell, Washington for one year. (Photo/Bothell Police Department)

Shoop, on the job a little over a year, was in the driver’s seat and his field-training officer, Officer Mustafa Kumcur, was in the passenger seat as Washington approached their patrol SUV, then fired two rounds into the vehicle, according to the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team (SMART).

One of Washington’s rounds shattered the driver’s window and became lodged in the onboard police computer and the second bullet hit Kumcur’s firearm and ricocheted, striking Kumcur in the head and causing a deep graze wound, according to the SMART investigation and criminal charges filed Friday by King County prosecutors against Washington.

Both Shoop and Kumcur returned fire, and bullet fragments and at least nine shell casings were later found inside the police SUV, the charges say.

Kumcur continued firing after being wounded, and Shoop, caught in the crossfire, was struck by one of Kumcur’s bullets, say the charges.

Washington was not hit by any of the officers’ rounds.

Washington, 37, was charged Friday with aggravated first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and vehicular assault. He was ordered held without bail.

Washington is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 3. Court records do not yet indicate which attorney is representing him.

“The fact that Mr. Washington did not fire the fatal shot is immaterial to his culpability in this crime,” King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Mary Barbosa wrote in charging documents. “But for Mr. Washington’s directed attack on the officers, Officer Shoop would be alive today.”

Adam Bercovici, a retired Los Angeles police lieutenant who now provides expert witness testimony on police use of force and officer-involved shootings, agrees.

He said Washington is “100% culpable” for Shoop’s death, even though Shoop died from a round fired by his field-training officer. Washington’s alleged actions precipitated the gunfight and the officers “were perfectly justified in using force,” he said.

“Sadly, this happens. Friendly fire is more common than you think,” especially in the heat of battle, said Bercovici, who retired in 2012 after 30 years with the Los Angeles Police Department.

He said there’s not a lot of room to move inside a police vehicle, with rifles and computer equipment eating up space. Though tactically it’s better for officers to get out of a vehicle and use it for cover to engage a suspect, “we do teach officers to engage from inside a vehicle as a last resort,” Bercovici said.

King County prosecutors charged Washington with aggravated first-degree murder because Shoop was acting in his capacity as a police officer when he was killed.

In Washington, the only possible punishment for aggravated first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of release. County prosecutors previously had the discretion to decide whether to seek the death penalty against someone charged with aggravated murder, but that is no longer an option since the state Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 2018, with justices unanimously ruling it was imposed in an arbitrary and raciallybiased manner.

According to the charges filed Friday:

Shoop and Kumcur were on patrol Monday night when they stopped a Pontiac G6 at 98th Avenue Northeast and Highway 522 that they saw did not have a license plate or temporary tag. As Shoop approached the driver’s side of the car, Washington drove off and struck a 20-year-old who had been riding scooters with a friend in a crosswalk about a block from the initial stop. The 20-year-old suffered multiple fractures to his leg.

Washington then drove the car over a curb and across a median into the westbound lanes, where it stopped, facing east. Shoop, who ran back to the patrol SUV after Washington drove off, pursued the Pontiac eastbound, then made a U turn on Highway 522 and came to a rolling stop about 50 feet away, facing the Pontiac.

By then, Washington had gotten out of the Pontiac and was seen by witnesses pacing near his vehicle; he started walking away, but turned back when he saw the police SUV and yelled, “Come on pig,” while armed with a 9 mm handgun, the charges say. He quickly approached the driver’s window, firing two shots inside.

The officers returned fire and Shoop, caught between Washington and Kumcur, was hit by one of Kumcur’s rounds, according to charging papers. An autopsy found Shoop also had injuries to his left hand consistent with being near a gun as it was fired and from broken glass.

Kumcur was treated at Harborview Medical Center but has since been released and continues to recover at home, said Bothell police Capt. Mike Johnson.

Following the gunfight, Washington ran away but was taken into custody five hours later, after he tried to get off a rooftop and became wedged between two buildings. A handgun and a bag of 9 mm bullets was found in his pants after his arrest, the charges say.

Bothell City Manager Jennifer Phillips described the shooting as a “chaotic chain of events” that took just two seconds.

“Let us be clear,” Phillips said in a statement, “we believe the actions of the suspect led to this tragic event.”

Phillips called Kumcur a valued member of the police force and accomplished trainer, and said Shoop’s death has brought the Bothell community and police department “to our knees in grief.”

During the manhunt, investigators learned Washington called police in Junction City, Kansas, identified himself and described hitting someone in the crosswalk and opening fire on the officers, say the charges. According to a Friday news release issued by SMART, Washington called police in Kansas “to advise his family he had shot and killed a police officer.”

Police say Washington admitted firing into the police vehicle and blamed the officers for forcing him to run over “babies,” an apparent reference to the young men in the crosswalk, say the charges. Detectives who interviewed Washington for 1 1/2 hours say Washington stated he opened fire because he was concerned the officers were going to take his car, marijuana and gun, according to the charges.

The charges note Washington rambled about voices in his head and made off-topic, grandiose statements but when refocused, he “was able to understand the questions being asked of him and provided appropriate responses.”

Washington, who is homeless and appears to have few ties to Washington state, has criminal convictions in Texas and Kansas, dating to 1997 that include assault, domestic violence and making terroristic threats, court records show. In February 2017, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a Junction City, Kansas, police officer, according to Geary County District Court records. He was sentenced to time served in jail.

©2020 The Seattle Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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