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Clark County affidavit sheds light on events leading to Kevin Peterson Jr. shooting

Document indicates the Camas man fired at deputies

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor, and
, Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:

An apparent drug sale of 50 Xanax pills between Kevin E. Peterson Jr. and a confidential informant outside the Quality Inn in Hazel Dell ended with Clark County sheriff’s deputies fatally shooting the young Black man, according to court records filed Friday.

The records cite evidence that suggests Peterson not only had a firearm but that he fired two rounds at deputies. Still, investigators have not outright said if Peterson fired the weapon, despite Sheriff Chuck Atkins saying last week there was an exchange of gunfire.

The shooting occurred shortly before 6 p.m. Oct. 29 in the parking lot of a shuttered US Bank branch, 6829 N.E. Highway 99, adjacent to the motel.

On the day of the shooting, officers with the regional drug task force were investigating Peterson for conspiracy to deliver controlled substances. Peterson, 21, of Camas was reportedly in contact with a confidential informant who had tipped off the task force about the sale. They agreed to meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Quality Inn, 7001 N.E. Highway 99, according to a search warrant affidavit.

The new information is contained in documents, filed in Clark County District Court, in support of a search warrant requested Tuesday for a dark blue 2012 Mercedes-Benz registered to Peterson. The vehicle, which is being held at Battle Ground Public Works, was searched Wednesday morning, and investigators found just shy of 40 pills inside, according to a property receipt.

Authorities have been slow to release information about the shooting — including the identities of the three deputies who fired their weapons — despite tense demonstrations in Hazel Dell and downtown Vancouver decrying Peterson’s death.

The investigation changed hands Tuesday after Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik requested that members of the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team assume lead roles.

Longview Police Department Sgt. Marc Langlois said in an email Friday that the investigation is ongoing and more information should be released next week. He did not respond to a question about when the deputies would be identified. All of the involved deputies have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol in police shootings. The search warrant affidavit does not identify them.

Reached by phone Friday, Kevin Peterson Sr. directed questions about his son to the family’s lawyer, Ben Crump. The civil rights lawyer has been called the go-to attorney for racial justice. He represented the family of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and is currently representing the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Details of shooting

According to the document, a deputy assigned to the task force said Peterson would be arriving in a Mercedes-Benz. Peterson had reportedly sent the confidential informant a photo of the drugs for sale, in which the car’s emblem and interior could be seen.

Peterson arrived for the meet-up around 5:50 p.m. in a dark blue Mercedes-Benz, later found to be registered to him. Two task force members, “wearing clearly marked police vests,” blocked his vehicle and attempted to arrest him, the affidavit reads. (The task force members are identified only by last name.) But Peterson got out of the car and ran, prompting a foot chase.

Two task force members said they saw Peterson running with a firearm. One member, a deputy, said “Peterson dropped his firearm on the ground as he ran, stopped, turned around for the firearm, picked it up and continued to flee on foot,” according to the affidavit.

Peterson reportedly ran from the motel through an adjoining car lot south to the bank parking lot, where he was “met by law enforcement,” the document reads.

From there, the document cites police radio traffic, stating Peterson fired two rounds from his firearm at officers in the parking lot. It also says that police radio traffic indicated officers returned fire, striking Peterson. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Peterson died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office, but the agency did not offer further information about his wounds. His manner of death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.

A witness in the area said they heard two shots that sounded the same but different from a volley of shots that followed. Video from a bank camera showed Peterson pointing what appeared to be a firearm at officers, the search warrant affidavit states.

Investigators said a Glock 23 .40-caliber pistol was found next to Peterson’s body. The magazine from the firearm was two rounds shy of capacity, according to the document.

Investigators reportedly found a capped needle and bindles of suspected narcotics in the path in which Peterson fled, the affidavit states.

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