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Originally published Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Woodinville man killed by deputy was not armed when shot, wife claims

A Woodinville man fatally shot by a King County sheriff's deputy during a domestic-violence call on Saturday had been "holding a knife," according to the Sheriff's Office. But the wife of the dead man told a reporter Monday her husband wasn't armed when deputies shot him near their home.

Seattle Times staff reporter

A Woodinville man fatally shot by a King County sheriff's deputy during a domestic-violence call had been "holding a knife," according to the Sheriff's Office.

But the wife of the dead man said Monday her husband wasn't armed when deputies shot him Saturday near their home.

"I can tell you this, this is a wrongful death," the woman said from the doorstep of the couple's home. "The police shot an unarmed man."

A Sheriff's Office news release did not specify whether the man, identified Monday by the King County Medical Examiner's Office as James L. Slater Jr., 59, was holding the knife at the time he was shot. Slater died of "multiple gunshot wounds," the Medical Examiner's Office said.

"The suspect ... sat down on the back porch of the house, holding a knife," the news release stated. "He had apparent self-inflicted wounds on his arms. He was shot and killed shortly thereafter."

The Seattle Times is not naming Slater's wife because the Sheriff's Office alleges she is a domestic-violence victim.

At Slater's home Monday, the woman, whose lower right jaw and lip were bruised and puffy, described herself only as Slater's wife of eight years. Other than saying her husband wasn't armed when he was shot, she declined further comment.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart said he could not address the woman's claims because he had "no further information other than what's in the press release."

According to the Sheriff's Office, the incident began around 8:40 p.m. Saturday when a woman called 911 from a home in the 16000 block of Northeast Woodville-Duvall Road. Dispatchers "heard a woman screaming and crying [in] the background," the news release stated. "A man's voice could also be heard."

The woman then told a dispatcher, "I need the police," the release said.

A deputy arrived five minutes later and spoke with the woman.

"She had injuries from an assault, and pointed out the suspect who by this time was walking away from the house," according to the news release.

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A second deputy arrived a few minutes later. "The suspect returned to the area and sat down on the back porch of the house, holding a knife," according to the news release.

The news release does not say how many times the man was shot.

The Sheriff's Office said information about the deputy who fired the fatal shots would not be released before Wednesday.

The Sheriff's Office will convene a Shooting Review Board to determine if the shooting followed department policy, and the King County executive also will conduct an inquest, Urquhart said.

Monday morning, on the shoulder of the busy road outside of Slater's mobile home, at least 20 fluorescent green circles remained spray-painted and numbered on the pavement, indicating a trail of blood between Slater's driveway and a neighbor's home.

Nearby, two blood stains also marked a neighbor's wooden bench shaded beneath trees against the fence to Slater's land.

Two residents who lived near the shooting scene, but declined to be named, each said Slater had been sitting on the bench when deputies arrived Saturday.

One neighbor, who was hosting a Fourth of July party, said it was still daylight when the deputies arrived. Her guests heard someone shouting a command followed by two distinct gunshots, she said.

A short time later, the neighbor said, a deputy was seen performing chest compressions on a shirtless man with gray hair who was lying in the driveway.

Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter contributed to this report.

Lewis Kamb: 206-464-2341 or lkamb@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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