Jury’s decision about SWAT team shooting must be respected | Editorial


We obviously didn’t sit in with the six-member jury that found members of a Bellevue SWAT team were justified when they shot and killed a Seattle man in March of last year.

Nevertheless, we trust their judgment and decision.

The Bellevue SWAT team was in Seattle the morning of March 22, prepared to serve a warrant on Russell Smith, who was suspected of at least three robberies in Bellevue and two in Seattle dating back to November 2012.

Testimony said Smith backed out of his driveway in his Mercedes Benz, struck a pickup, and then accelerated forward at several SWAT members. Officers said they feared for their safety and fired at Russell in his car.

The jurors in Seattle agreed that the details of the event as reported by both Bellevue and Seattle police officers were accurate.

What people too often fail to remember is what police face every day as part of their job. For example, when reporters do ride-alongs with police officers for a story, they often come back with details that make us wonder how the police can do what they do every day.

One reporter learned that officers in one city are told that every time they stop a car and get out to talk to the driver, they first make sure to touch a spot on the rear of the car. In case they are shot and killed, there will be evidence of their presence on the car.

Another officer told a reporter that he always makes sure to kiss his wife and hug his kids as he goes out the door to work. Because of his job, he knows it could be the last time he sees them.

Thankfully, most peoples’ jobs don’t come close to that.

We are sad that someone died in that confrontation in Seattle. But we trust the jurors who looked at the facts and then reached, what we think, was the correct decision.


– Craig Groshart, Bellevue Reporter

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 14
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates