Inquest ordered into March shooting death of Ravensdale man by King County Sheriff’s deputies

Editor's note: the following is a press release issued at 3:24 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, by King County, through the office of the King County Executive. The Courier-Herald's original story,  which appeared March 23, follows the release.

King County Executive Dow Constantine today (Tuesday) ordered an inquest into the shooting death of Eric Sampson by King County Sheriff’s deputies on March 19, 2011. The 19-year old Ravensdale man was fatally shot in a confrontation involving a machete and three officers on a rural road in the 28500 block of Retreat-Kanaskat Road.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed investigative materials from the Sheriff’s Office.

Inquests are fact-finding hearings conducted before a six-member jury. Under a standing Executive Order they are routinely called to determine the causes and circumstances of any death involving a member of any law enforcement agency within King County while in the performance of his or her duties.

Inquests provide transparency into law enforcement actions so the public may have all the facts established in a court of law. The ordering of an inquest should carry no other implication. Inquest jurors answer a series of interrogatories to determine the significant factual issues involved in the case, and it is not their purpose to determine whether any person or agency is civilly or criminally liable.

The order signed by the Executive requests King County District Court Presiding Judge Barbara Linde to assign a judge to set a date and conduct the inquest.

The ordering of inquests is a function vested in the county executive under the King County Code


This story appeared in the March 23, 2011, edition of The Courier-Herald

By Kevin Hanson



A man brandishing a machete was shot and killed Saturday night following a chase that started in Buckley, continued through Enumclaw and terminated in the rural Cumberland area.

According to information provided by the King County Sheriff’s Office, the incident began when Buckley police got into a pursuit with the 19-year-old man. They were soon joined by Enumclaw police and Washington State Patrol troopers. The chase led them into the Cumberland area northeast of Enumclaw.  The Sheriff's Office was notified of the pursuit at 11:05 p.m.

Deputies went to the general area where the car was registered and, about a half-hour later, found the 1978 Ford Fiesta down a rural road in the 28500 block of Retreat-Kanaskat Road. The car was unoccupied.

As deputies inspected the vehicle, another deputy drove farther down the road. At 11:41, he found the suspect on the road carrying a large machete. The suspect walked up to the deputy’s car and slashed down on the hood of the car with the weapon.

The deputy called for assistance and additional deputies came to his location. The suspect refused to drop the machete and two deputies fired Tasers at him, but either missed or did not make good contact. Three deputies then fired and the suspect went down, hit multiple times.

Deputies applied trauma dressings and direct pressure to the man’s wounds. He was having difficulty breathing so they used a bag mask to help him breathe. A deputy began chest compressions after they lost a pulse.

Maple Valley Fire Department crews arrived and took over primary care, but discontinued life-saving efforts at 12:05 a.m.

The three county deputies who fired have been placed on administrative leave, standard procedure following a fatal shooting.

The suspect had not been identified as of Monday afternoon. County authorities noted only that he lived in the Ravensdale area and had three warrants for his arrest for traffic-related offenses.

In addition, a county spokesman said he is listed in the state computer database as “potentially dangerous to officers,” because he previously made statements where he threatened to kill police.

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