In response to civil-rights suit, Arlington Police say multi-agency probe cleared officers in 2017 shooting

  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:51pm
  • News

ARLINGTON – A federal civil-rights lawsuit filed Thursday contends two Arlington police officers used excessive force two years ago when they shot and injured a suicidal teen wielding a pocket knife downtown who disobeyed their commands to get out of a car.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Nina Semone Robinson claims the officers “radically escalated the severity of the crisis” by using force to pull the distraught 17-year-old from her vehicle, breaking a window and pulling her out by her hair.

Officers used a Taser twice to no effect on the teen before firing a total of nine rounds at her, the lawsuit alleges.

The Arlington Police Department has not yet been served with the lawsuit related to the shooting that occurred Feb. 14, 2017.

However, city officials said an independent investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team done immediately after the shooting cleared both officers in the use of force. So did the county prosecutor.

SMART is a team of investigators, evidence technicians, records specialists and public information officers from various Snohomish County law enforcement agencies and the Washington State Patrol who respond to, and investigate, police-use-of-force incidents, including law-enforcement-involved fatalities and serious injury incidents.

The morning of the shooting, several people called 9-1-1 to report a person lying in the middle of the road near East Division Street and Olympic Avenue, screaming and crying intermittently. When officers arrived minutes later, they tried to talk to the girl, who was reportedly distraught after a fight with her boyfriend, who was also at the scene, and said she assaulted him.

The girl refused the officers’ commands to get out of the road, walked toward her car, got into the driver’s seat and locked the doors before yelling and rummaging around for something in the center console, according to a search warrant. Officers had the options to detain her for an involuntary commitment or probable cause to arrest her for assault.

When ordered to show her hands, she tapped the blade of a knife on the driver’s window, then held it up to her throat, the search warrant states. An officer drew his weapon and held his weight against the door as the girl tried to open it, while the other officer broke out the passenger window with a baton and deployed his stun gun.

Both officers told investigators the girl lunged at the sergeant with the knife through the broken window, the search warrant notes.

One of the officers said the girl then crawled through the window and faced him. He used his stun gun with no effect. He tried again. The other officer said the girl advanced toward him as he retreated.

The teen, he said, was about 15 feet from him when she raised the knife above her head. He opened fire.

Statements said the girl was told multiple times to drop the knife, and when one of the officers believed the other was in imminent danger, he started firing, too. The girl stumbled to the ground, and both officers rendered aid.

The lawsuit contends that the police department had failed to carry out Crisis Intervention Training that has been on the books for years.

City spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said that at the time of the shooting, the officers had been trained in crisis-intervention techniques to the standard required by state law. The independent investigation showed that the officers repeatedly attempted to de-escalate the situation, including deployment of a Taser to prevent injury to the plaintiff, the officers and bystanders.

Robinson pleaded guilty to two counts of assault on a police officer, admitting she attempted to assault the officers to force a “suicide-by-cop” scenario.

Police Chief Jonathan Ventura said, “This is an unfortunate situation for the plaintiff, and we empathize with her and her family.”

The police department will be unable to comment further due to the pending litigation.

More in News

Inslee: Stay home for 2 weeks

By Jerry Cornfield and Zachariah Bryan The Herald OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay… Continue reading

Fences have been put up around Marysville playgrounds to keep kids off. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville leaders concerned as (almost) everything’s closing

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – Within hours of Gov. Jay Inslee’s… Continue reading


Beware of coronavirus scams SEATTLE – U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran is… Continue reading

Jennifer Thompson, left, and her father Ron Thompson secure a new remembrance plaque to the Oso slide site gate on Sunday, near Oso. Ron Thompson handcrafts a new plaque for the gate every year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Community remembers Oso slide victims, survivors

By Ben Watanabe The Herald OSO — The power of remembering the… Continue reading

People gather to pick up special allergy meals before leaving Lakewood High School on Wednesday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Districts taking meals to students since schools are closed

By Stephanie Davey The Herald LAKEWOOD — Children wearing pajamas stood outside… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Letter about coronavirus from Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring

This is an edited version of a letter Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring… Continue reading

DOUGLAS BUell/Staff Photos
                                Lead cook Keina Gowins with Presidents Elementary hands out free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to students and parents outside the school Wednesday. Presidents and AHS serve as central kitchen sites for preparing meals, which starting next week will expand to 12 delivery sites from Silvana to Oso. Right, Arlington Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau and Mike Simpson, food bank board president and owner of Arlington Grocery Outlet, partnered with the district with their Meals Til Monday program, and gave a woman a box of donated food while at Presidents.
Arlington students won’t go hungry during the COVID-19 school closures

ARLINGTON – Arlington schools are closed through April 24 to help fight… Continue reading

Scott Beebe hands out Chromebooks to people in their cars. (Steve Powell/Staff Photos)
Marysville parents anxious to pick up school materials for kids

By Steve Powell MARYSVILLE – A few days ago Marysville schools… Continue reading

Jon Nehring
Marysville leaders’ trip to D.C. productive

MARYSVILLE – City leaders recently obtained advice on how to get more… Continue reading

Crews will blow garbage into the street and sweep it up over the next few weeks. The city is asking people to move their cars, trash cans and recycle bins when they come around to help them do a thorough job. (Courtesy Photo)
Marysville shuffles workers due to virus, seeks public’s help for sweepers next week

By Steve Powell spowell@marysvilleglobe. MARYSVILLE – From working from home to teleconferencing… Continue reading

Arlington closed until April 24 amid COVID-19 outbreak: what’s next?

ARLINGTON – When Arlington public school leaders met for a special meeting… Continue reading