The fatal police shooting of a young Black man near Portland, Oregon, has sparked protests.
The man, identified by family members to media and authorities as Kevin Peterson, Jr., 21, was shot and killed around 6 p.m. Thursday in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated area in Clark County in southwest Washington state, 18 miles north of Portland.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said in a statement Friday that detectives with a drug task force were conducting a narcotics investigation and that Peterson was killed by deputies following a foot chase.
“A foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm, the sheriff said., adding that the information he has is that the man “reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed.”
The sheriff also said, “There is a lot about this situation that I don’t know.” Because an independent investigative team is probing the shooting, “I am waiting along with you to learn about much of the details.”
The Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team that is in charge of the probe said in a news release that officers saw Peterson “produce a handgun” during a chase and that a firearm was found near his body after he was shot. The investigative team did not say whether Peterson had fired the gun.
Task force officers first came upon Peterson alone in his car in the parking lot of a motel, and he was suspected of selling drugs, according to the news release. When officers approached the vehicle, he fled on foot, the release said.
“Soon after the foot chase began, the man produced a handgun, and the officers backed off,” the release said.
A short time later, the man encountered three deputies “who all discharged their pistols,” the news release said.
After the shooting, investigators found a pistol near Peterson’s body, the news release said.
All officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard while an investigation is underway, authorities said.
Peterson’s partner, Olivia Selto, told The Oregonian that she was on the phone with him at the time of the shooting. She said that he was running during the phone call and that she heard multiple gunshots. She said she did not know what led to the encounter with police.
“I don’t know what happened except that he was running and I heard 15-plus gunshots and heard him fall,” she told the outlet. “I told him I loved him as many times as I could, and he said it back.”
The two had just welcomed a baby daughter, she said.
His father, Kevin Peterson Sr., said his son was “a good kid,” the Oregonian reported.
Hundreds of people gathered in Hazel Dell on Friday night for a vigil where they lit candles and chanted Peterson’s name and “Black Lives Matter,” NBC affiliate KGW in Portland, Oregon reported. A small group of counterprotesters gathered across the street from the vigil.
After the vigil ended around 9:30 p.m. demonstrators marched in the streets.