Executive Constantine has ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Damarius Butts by Seattle police officers. The purpose of inquests is to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of law enforcement within King County while performing his or her duty,
King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered an inquest into the fatal shooting of Damarius Butts by Seattle police officers on April 20. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office recommended the inquest after reviewing an internal investigation.
Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing Executive Order, inquests are convened to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while performing his or her duty.
Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.
The order signed by the Executive requests that King County District Court Presiding Judge Donna Tucker assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.
The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code.