Bellevue SWAT inquest delayed

An inquest into the March fatal shooting of a Columbia City man by the Bellevue SWAT has been postponed after the family of Russell Smith decided to retain an attorney.

The jury inquest hearing was slated to start last week at the Bellevue Courthouse and a pre-inquest hearing is now set for Dec. 19 with a hearing date not yet set.

Smith, 51, was shot multiple times by members of the Bellevue SWAT team after officers arrived at his home in the early hours of March 22 to serve a warrant for several robberies he was suspected of committing in the Bellevue and Seattle area. He had been attempting to flee from officers in his vehicle near 43rd Avenue South and South Hudson Street, rear-ending a parked truck and then driving forward in a manner law enforcement alleges made them fearful for their lives.

The inquest order was made by King County Executive Dow Constantine in June, and will be result in a six-member jury, fact-finding hearing. The King County Prosecutor's Office has fielded requests for investigative material pertaining to the night of the fatal shooting and is preparing the release of more than 420 pages of documents, video from the SWAT vehicle,  911 calls and radio traffic.

The prosecutor's office is withholding a booking photo and criminal history printout for Smith, and medical information and autopsy report. It is also not releasing written statements by the three officers who shot Smith that morning.

More information will be posted once those documents have been released and reviewed by the Reporter.


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