MARYSVILLE – Almost a year after her son was shot to death by Marysville police, Joann Rouker is still waiting for answers.
She may not have to wait much longer. Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said in an email this week that the SMART investigation is done and charges have been referred to the county prosecutor’s office. SMART investigates officer-involved shootings in the county.
Rouker is heartbroken that police killed her son Sept. 18, 2018. She disagrees with much of what police and her son’s wife Nichole say about what happened, adding she knows her son, and he would not act that way.
Police say they shot Jeffrey Keith Sims, 37, because he was armed with a 3-inch folding knife and was going to stab his wife.
Sims’ wife said he was possibly high on methamphetamine when she talked to him earlier that day, court papers show. When Nichole got home from work, she said they argued about whether he could stay as she had kicked him out weeks before.
She called 9-1-1, and when law enforcement arrived, the couple was in the driveway. He had what looked like a knife in his hand, and he moved as if to stab his wife, according to police.
“The officers fired at (Sims) while he was attacking her with the knife,” detectives wrote in the search warrant affidavit filed in Superior Court. Sims died at the scene in the 13100 block of 57th Avenue NE from multiple gunshot wounds. Three officers fired shots.
Sims had no known criminal history in Washington.
He and his wife had four boys ages 10, 7, 2 and 18 months at the time. In remembrance, the family asked for donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness or a Go Fund Me page set up in his wife’s name. About 35 people have donated a little over $3,000.
Rouker said police didn’t just kill her son that night. “They took my life away as well,” she said, adding, “His kids will not have a father to ever turn to.”
She said police should not have felt threatened. “Do you really think the police were in any danger being so far from him?” she asked, adding: “Yes, I am beyond mad. I am so broken. I cannot believe they can think this is justified.”
She said the three officers shot 26 bullets into her son. “Did they have to shoot my son with 26 bullet holes?” she asked. “That was just overkill.” She said she knows police have a job to do and their lives are in danger, and she could see the shooting if Sims had a gun, but “a pocket knife?”
Rouker said she wishes she could sue the police department for wrongful death, but only a wife can do that in Washington state. Rouker lives in Ohio. She disagrees that there was any domestic violence going on. “He was a shy, humble man,” Rouker said. “He hated to argue. His dad and I had a rough marriage, and Jeffrey did not like any arguing at all.” She also wonders why Nichole didn’t have a scratch on her if Sims was that close to stabbing her when officers shot him.
She also wondered why the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team investigation into his death is taking so long, compared with similar incidents.
Sims grew up in Virginia, but moved to Seattle, where he met Nichole. “They were young and in love. I thought they got along,” Rouker said. Two months before his death, Rouker said their relationship went downhill. “She said he was doing meth. I don’t know what to believe,” Rouker said. She said her son was in drug rehab four years prior, and he told her he wouldn’t do it again.
“I wouldn’t go back to that stuff,” she said he told her. “I hate the way it makes me feel. I wouldn’t jeopardize my kids and make them live through hell. I got that out of my system.” Rouker said if he had gotten back into drugs, she would have known. “Jeffrey would tell me everything,” she said.
Rouker said if Nichole was so afraid of Sims why did she approach him just before the shots were fired? Rouker said Nichole never mentioned to her that Sims was violent.
“She was in control of everything,” Rouker said of Nichole. Regarding the children, Rouker said: “They just absolutely adored their dad. I hope she’s getting them therapy and help.”
As for her doubting some of Nichole’s and police versions of the tragedy, Rouker said there is one solution. “They need to have video cams,” she said of Marysville police.