King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the shooting death of Eric Todd Berg, 42, by a King County Sheriff’s Deputy on December 10, 2012.
Deputies were called to the mobile home park by neighbors who reported yelling outside. Berg died of several gunshot wounds after police say he took a deputy’s taser and charged at officers. No permanent address is listed for Berg, and he may have been a friend of the resident.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg recommended the inquest after his office reviewed materials from the King County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted the investigation.
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 Corinna Harn 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.