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Washington judge faces judicial conduct charges for comments about Black man killed by deputies

On a hot microphone, Judge Darvin Zimmerman was overheard describing Kevin Peterson Jr. as “the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of."
Credit: Aerial Mike - stock.adobe.com

CLARK COUNTY, Wash. — The Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct filed a statement of charges against former Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman over disparaging comments he made about Kevin Peterson Jr., who was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies last year, as well as Peterson Jr.'s father, Kevin Peterson Sr. The comments were broadcast live on YouTube. 

On a hot microphone, Zimmerman was overheard describing Peterson Jr. as “the Black guy they were trying to make an angel out of." Of Peterson Sr., he said, "the next day, he wakes up with dollar signs in his eyes and George Floyd’s attorneys had already contacted him.”

Deputies shot Peterson Jr., 21, during a failed drug sting in October 2020. His death prompted vigils and protests last fall.

The commission said it received dozens of complaints about the comments, including a self-report from Zimmerman. 

RELATED: NAACP, ACLU want US Dept. of Justice to investigate Clark County law enforcement

The commission said it has probable cause to believe Zimmerman violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by making comments "that displayed racial bias, indicated a lack of impartiality, and implied that he had a personal channel of communication with the Sheriff’s Department regarding pending and impending cases." 

Zimmerman's son, a member of the Clark County Sheriff's Office, was on scene when Peterson Jr. was killed but did not fire his weapon. 

Amid pressure to resign over his comments, Zimmerman stepped away from the bench and eventually retired from the court in June 2021. 

Zimmerman has 21 days to respond to the charges. If he does not respond, the commission considers that an admission of the allegations. 

    

 

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