PORTLAND, Ore. — A press release from the City of Battleground has brought some more clarity to the moments before Kevin Peterson Jr. was shot and killed by Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Hazel Dell on Oct. 29.
The case is slowly being pieced together for the public through documents. The newest piece of information: The independent investigation found there is no evidence to suggest Peterson fired his handgun at officers before he was shot and killed.
Whether Peterson had shot at officers had been a point of contention since his death. Originally, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said in a press conference that Peterson had fired his gun, according to his deputies. However, the independent investigation came out with information shortly after that press conference and did not indicate they had any evidence to suggest that Peterson had fired his gun.
Then, a search warrant affidavit was released for the search of Peterson’s vehicle and the seizure of some paperwork and drugs. Within that document it was detailed, “police radio traffic ... stated that Mr. Peterson had fired two rounds” at police. A witness within the affidavit reported she heard two gunshots that “sounded different” before “a volley of shots” that sounded the same. It also said that the handgun, recovered after the shooting, was two bullets short of a full magazine.
However, the latest information from the independent investigation states that one bullet was missing and there was one in the chamber. No casings matching Peterson’s gun were collected at the scene where he was shot, the parking lot of a U.S. Bank.
The press release states: "At this time, detectives do not have evidence that Peterson fired the handgun while in the U.S. Bank lot, based on involved deputy interviews."
Three deputies have been identified as having fired at Peterson:
- Detective Jeremy Brown, age 46, a 14-year veteran of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, currently assigned to the Drug Task Force.
- Detective Robert Anderson, age 42, a 13-year veteran of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, currently assigned to the Drug Task Force.
- Deputy Jonathan Feller, age 46, a 2.5-year veteran of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, currently assigned to the patrol division. Deputy Feller has approximately 14 years of previous law enforcement experience in South Dakota.
The independent investigation found, through deputy interviews, that Peterson had agreed to meet a Clark County Sheriff’s Office Drug Task Force officer to sell Xanax. When Peterson arrived at the agreed-upon rendezvous point at the Quality Inn, located at 7001 Northeast Highway 99 in Vancouver, officers in undercover vehicles turned on their emergency lights and Peterson ran.
While running, Peterson dropped a handgun, according to the Battle Ground press release. He was advised by officers not to pick up the gun but doubled back for it and picked it up anyway before he continued to flee. Detectives who met with him in the Quality Inn parking lot did not continue to pursue him because he was armed, but did advise through the radio to backup units that Peterson was armed.
He made it into the neighboring parking lot of the U.S. Bank, where vigils for his death would later be held. As Peterson went to the southeast corner of the U.S. Bank property, he was met by more deputies who ordered him to stop.
Deputy Anderson said that Peterson had a cellphone in his hand at that time. He did not stop and turned north. The press release states that Peterson pulled his handgun from his sweatshirt pocket and Anderson ordered Peterson to drop the gun. He did not drop the gun and continued to walk north.
At that time, Anderson believed that Peterson was a threat to the public and the containment units who were coming from the north and he fired at Peterson as Peterson continued to walk north.
Deputy Feller said after Anderson had shot at Peterson, Peterson pointed his handgun at Feller while running north. Feller then shot at Peterson.
U.S. Bank footage recorded Peterson falling, then sitting up and pointing his handgun again. Deputies said that Peterson was pointing his handgun at Brown. Brown and Anderson fired at Peterson.
Peterson was given commands to drop the gun and he eventually set it down and continued to make some more movements.
Radio traffic from the incident includes deputies stating that a shooting had occurred and that aid was needed at the scene. This is new information from the independent investigation as well. Earlier reports stated that radio traffic had indicated that Peterson had shot twice at police.
Additional units were asked to approach Peterson with shields since he had a handgun within reach. It was approximately five minutes after the shooting that deputies made contact with Peterson and began rendering first aid.
At the scene, an iPhone and a Glock model 23, .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun was collected.
The independent investigation is ongoing. Numerous civilians in the area and law enforcement officers who responded to the call have been interviewed. Video evidence from surrounding businesses has also been collected.
A search warrant was executed on Peterson's car and there were several pre-packaged amounts of pills that were presumptively identified as Xanax.
In the original search warrant affidavit, law enforcement noted that while Peterson ran he dropped drugs behind him, but no such information was noted in the latest release from the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with further information about this incident can contact the investigative team at firstname.lastname@example.org.