Investigators said last week that they did not have evidence that Peterson had discharged the weapon in the US Bank parking lot, based on involved deputy interviews and a lack of casings at the scene. That contradicts a search warrant affidavit filed earlier in the investigation, which cited evidence suggesting Peterson fired two rounds at deputies. Sheriff Chuck Atkins had also previously said there was an exchange of gunfire.
Crump said those initial claims of Peterson firing upon law enforcement were flagrantly false.
“The tragic killing of Kevin Peterson Jr. underscores the ongoing problem with law enforcement accountability and transparency in our country. After officers took his life, they proceeded to cover up what actually transpired — lying to both Kevin’s family and to the public they swore to protect and serve,” Crump said.
The attorney further said that when facts are distorted by law enforcement officials to cover up their behavior or that of their colleagues, they widen the gap of trust in Black communities.
“That visceral distrust makes people of color run and hide for their lives at the sight of police,” Crump said.
Investigators last week identified the three officers who fired at Peterson as:
• Deputy Jeremy Brown, 46, a 14-year veteran of the sheriff’s office assigned to the regional drug task force.
• Detective Robert Anderson, 42, a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office assigned to the regional drug task force.
• Deputy Jonathan Feller, 46, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 2 1/2 years and works patrol. (He reportedly has about 14 years of law enforcement experience in South Dakota.)
Crump and Herrmann said they will seek justice for Peterson and his family, as well as Clark County residents “who were lied to by police.” They demanded full and complete transparency from the county’s officials as the investigation moves forward.
Crump 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.
Lara Herrmann is owner and CEO of Herrmann Law Group, a personal injury firm with offices in Seattle and Tacoma. The firm represents victims of mass disasters, unlawful police shootings and defective products, among other cases.
Most recently, Herrmann and attorney Mark Lindquist filed a claim against the city of Seattle in the wrongful death of Lorenzo Anderson, who was killed in a shooting at the edge of the Capitol Hill protest zone known as CHOP, or Capitol Hill Organized Protest.