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Investigation team identifies Clark Co. deputies who shot and killed man wanted for assault

Deputies had probable cause to arrest the man for an assault two weeks earlier in a Vancouver parking lot.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — The team investigating an Oct. 17 deadly shooting in Vancouver released new details Thursday, including the identities of the two Clark County Sheriff's Deputies who shot and killed a man wanted for assault. 

The deputies are David Delin and Forrest Gonzales, both of whom remain on critical incident leave. The man who died was identified earlier in the week as 28-year-old Vancouver resident Kfin Karuo. The Clark County Medical Examiner's Office said he died from a gunshot wound to the torso.  

According to prior reports from the Clark County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), early Sunday morning the deputies pulled over a vehicle associated with a man they had probable cause to arrest for an assault with a handgun.

The suspect drove away and the deputies pursued him, eventually using a maneuver to force him to stop near Northeast 122nd Avenue and Northeast 49th Street in Vancouver. 

The man got out of his car and pointed a handgun at the officers, who then fired at him. The suspect ran and was found dead a short distance from his car, with the gun still in his hand and his finger on the trigger, officers said.

RELATED: Man with gun killed following car chase in Vancouver, deputies say

The CCSO reports did not specify whether Karuo fired his weapon. That information "has not yet been determined as part of the investigation," according to Vancouver Police Department (VPD) spokeswoman Kim Kapp. The VPD is leading the independent investigation team.

The deputies had probable cause to arrest Karuo for an earlier incident on Sept. 29, the investigation team said on Thursday. In that incident, the victim reported that he had been parked outside a business in east Vancouver when an unknown person drove up to him in a white Ford Expedition and asked if he was a "cop." 

The victim replied that it was none of his business, and the suspect then pointed a handgun at him and told him to leave the parking lot, according to CCSO. The victim's dashboard camera captured footage of the suspect pointing the gun, and the suspect was identified as Karuo.

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins released a lengthy statement on Wednesday on the Oct. 17 incident in which he expressed concern about multiple aspects of the shooting, including property damage, but stressed that the incident is being investigated by an independent team.

Atkins said he was reluctant to comment on the initial information "as any inaccuracy will lead some to believe that I have falsified or intentionally mischaracterized information."

RELATED: Clark Co. Sheriff's Deputies fired first in Sunday morning shooting with man wanted for assault with a gun

During the shooting, multiple bullets flew through the home of Vancouver resident Cony Ramirez, whose mother and daughter were home at the time. Ramirez told KGW the suspect died in her driveway, and said the deputies did not properly consider her family's safety during the incident.

"I thank God. I think it's a miracle this bullet didn't go straight, it went there," she said, pointing slightly away from where her daughter was sitting. "I'm thankful my family is okay."

Atkins appeared to indirectly address the stray shots in his statement, writing that law enforcement officers "often do not get to control when and where an officer involved shooting may occur."

"We are trained to be aware of the backdrop, crossfire, and surroundings, however in a split-second life and death decision deputies must weigh the risk to themselves and others and the totality of circumstances when applying force," he wrote. "I am concerned about the nature of the shooting, and what, if anything, we can learn from this incident." 

He added that he was concerned about people who experienced property damage stemming from the incident, and said his office has "aggressively" sought to make arrangements for damages to be fixed or compensated through Clark County's process.

Atkins also wrote that he was concerned that "a family has tragically lost a loved one in a police-involved shooting," concerned that the wanted person apparently did not comply when pulled over and concerned about the well-being of the deputies involved in the incident and the impact on the community.

"There are and will be numerous questions about what happened, how and why," he wrote. "I expect to learn answers to those questions, between the independent investigation as well as the internal review that my agency will undertake. I know these answers will not come soon enough for me, or others, but that I must trust in the process – and withhold judgement until all the facts have been carefully considered."

KGW Reporter Galen Ettlin contributed to this story.

An earlier version of this story used an incorrect version of Kfin Karuo's name.