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Nov. 30, 2022

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Details released in fatal Hazel Dell police-involved shooting

Report: Fatal shooting happened as police tried to serve search warrant

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
2 Photos
Clark County Sheriff's Office has closed Northeast 78th Street, a major east-west thoroughfare, through east Hazel Dell as it investigates an officer-involved shooting at the intersection of Northeast 25th Street.
Clark County Sheriff's Office has closed Northeast 78th Street, a major east-west thoroughfare, through east Hazel Dell as it investigates an officer-involved shooting at the intersection of Northeast 25th Street. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Vancouver police detectives were in the process of serving a search warrant on Carlos M. Hunter during a traffic stop last week in Hazel Dell, when Hunter reached for a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his right front pants pocket, according to investigators. The March 7 traffic stop ended with the 43-year-old’s death.

Hunter was shot and killed by Vancouver police Detectives Dennis Devlin, 45, and Colton Price, 30.
“(O)fficers from the Vancouver Police Department had obtained a (Clark County) District Court search warrant for the residence, vehicle and person of Hunter.

Hunter was suspected of being in possession of a controlled substance, with the intent to deliver,” according to a Camas Police Department news release issued Friday morning.

Hunter was suspected of distributing ecstasy, Camas police Officer Debrah Riedl told The Columbian in an email.

Vancouver police had discussed how best to serve the warrant and decided it was preferable to contact Hunter away from his home, according to the Camas Police Department, which is leading the investigation of the officer-involved shooting as part of the Regional Major Crimes Team.

The shooting was reported around 1:40 p.m. near the intersection of Northeast 78th Street and Northeast 25th Avenue. An officer said shots had been fired, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian. Six minutes earlier, detectives had stopped an eastbound, dark-colored Kia sedan at that location, which is in an unincorporated suburban area patrolled by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Additional police, deputies and emergency medical responders were dispatched after the reports of gunfire.

Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp said two detectives had stopped a known gang member related to an investigation into narcotics trafficking. She said the man was armed with a handgun and uncooperative when the officers pulled him over, leading the detectives to fire their weapons.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office said Hunter died of multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

Hunter’s family has disputed the police department’s claim that he was affiliated with gangs, stating he had ties when he was younger but severed them to focus on his five children.

Search warrant service

Vancouver police had prepared an Operational Plan for the service of the search warrant that was distributed to all involved officers. The plan included information about Hunter being suspected of drug distribution, his convictions for violent felonies and that he was known to carry a firearm. It also contained Hunter’s location details and a “tactical plan,” according to the Camas Police Department.

Hunter was “stated to be a gang member,” according to the plan. Camas police said the assertion by Vancouver police that Hunter was a known gang member came from “personal knowledge of some officers on scene, as well as information communicated to the officers in the Operational Plan.”

On the day of the shooting, officers were watching Hunter’s home, preparing to serve the warrant when they saw him walk to his car and drive away, according to Camas police. The officers followed Hunter to the 2500 block of Northeast 78th Street, turned on the emergency lights of their marked patrol vehicle and pulled him over. The detectives were wearing clothing that identified them as law enforcement officers, according to the investigating agency.

Dispatchers at Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency logged the time the officers went out on the traffic stop as 1:34 p.m. Two officers initiated the traffic stop and were quickly joined by two other officers. In total, three Vancouver police officers, and one officer from the Department of Corrections, were present at the traffic stop, according to Camas police.

Hunter was alone in his vehicle. Dispatch records show the officers radioed that shots were fired at 1:39 p.m.

“There is no video or audio record of what transpired during the traffic stop, leading up to the shooting,” according to the Camas Police Department.

The Vancouver Police Department does not use vehicle dash cameras, and officers do not wear body cameras, Riedl said.

When asked about audio recorders and when they’re used, Riedl said, “I’m sure officers have audio recorders available for their use when their investigation requires it (like during some interviews), but while on routine business like this incident or while on patrol, there are no recordings.”

Officer interviews indicated that Hunter was talking with them when they approached. They had identified themselves as police officers, and based on Hunter’s verbal responses, he knew they were police. He was not following their commands and directions, according to the officers’ accounts.

Hunter was told he was being detained for a search warrant of his person and vehicle and that he would need to get out of the vehicle. Hunter was described as becoming increasingly argumentative, refusing to get out of the vehicle or follow police orders, according to Camas police.

“During this period, Hunter continued to place his hands down near his waist where they could not be seen resulting in the officers making repeated commands for him to keep his hands up, where they could see them,” Camas police said.

The officers reportedly continued to command Hunter to exit his vehicle; he continued to argue and not comply, according to Camas police.

“The driver’s side door of Hunter’s vehicle was open, and officers tried to physically remove him from the car. However, they were unsuccessful as Hunter struggled with them. All three officers used their Taser on Hunter during this period in an attempt to gain control of him; however, the Taser deployments were ineffective,” Camas police said.

With officers still giving commands for Hunter to keep his hands where they could be seen, they said they observed Hunter quickly reach down near his right front pants pocket. The officers said they observed a handgun in that pocket, and one officer shouted to the others that Hunter had a gun, according to Camas police.

“The officer who had been partially inside the vehicle who was physically struggling with Hunter released his hold and jumped back. Officers then saw Hunter stick his hand down and grab the handle of the handgun as he attempted to remove it from his right pants pocket,” Camas police said.

Detectives Devlin and Price, who had been standing at opposite sides of Hunter’s vehicle, discharged their firearms. Hunter was struck in the torso several times.
Medical aid was requested and provided to Hunter, but he did not survive.

Other than the shots fired by the two Vancouver detectives, no other shots were fired. A Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun, the one seen by the officers in Hunter’s possession, was seized as evidence. The gun had been reported stolen from a Vancouver home in 2017, Camas police said.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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