Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Local News


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Monday, July 25, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Family of dead parolee doubt SF police's claims

Distraught relatives of a Washington state parolee who San Francisco police believe fatally shot himself while running away from officers said Monday they want more answers.

Associated Press

quotes "So they can have the closure they are entitled to," Pointer said. (the... Read more
quotes I will not use the term raised since your parenting skills appear to be wothless, Lady... Read more

advertising

OAKLAND, Calif. —

Distraught relatives of a Washington state parolee who San Francisco police believe fatally shot himself while running away from officers said Monday they want more answers.

Kenneth Harding's family and their attorney said they are troubled with how police have portrayed the shooting. Police first said that the 19-year-old was fatally shot by officers, then said they believed Harding killed himself with his own gun.

"I'm angry and I'm hurt," Harding's mother, Denika Chatman of Seattle said at a news conference in Oakland. "I want the truth and I want justice to be done."

Police said officers tried to stop Harding while checking for fare evaders on a light-rail train July 16 in the city's Bayview district. His mother said her son, who would have turned 20 on Aug. 5, was in the San Francisco Bay area to visit family and embark on a rap music career.

She also said that her son was enrolled to attend a community college in Seattle this fall.

"We know based upon the police department's shifting stories, conflicting statements, allegations, claims and retractions that the truth seems to be far from at hand," said Adante Pointer, Harding's family attorney. "A truth that the family is entitled to."

Police initially said officers gunned down Harding in self-defense after he first shot at them. They said that gunshot residue on Harding's right hand as well as audio of the shots captured by a gunshot-detection system backed officers' accounts that Harding fired the first shot.

Harding was the main person of interest being sought for questioning in the fatal South Seattle shooting of a pregnant teen a few days before he died, Seattle police said.

Some members of the community questioned the shooting, reacting angrily to videos posted online show Harding bleeding helplessly in the middle of the street as police stood around him with guns drawn and a crowd gathered.

At a packed town hall meeting last week, Police Chief Greg Suhr was cursed and shouted down by outraged residents a short distance from where the shooting took place.

Suhr later said that he now believes Harding shot and killed himself with his own gun. Suhr said after officers shot him in the leg, Harding likely lurched and fired his gun, sending the bullet into the right side of his neck to lodge behind his cheek.

Authorities say they do not know whether Harding killed himself intentionally or by accident with the .380-caliber bullet found in his body by the San Francisco medical examiner. A similar bullet was found in Harding's jacket pocket, police said. The gun that fired the fatal shot is still missing, police said.

Officers shot Harding in the leg but could not have fired the fatal bullet because they use .40-caliber handguns that cannot fire .380 ammunition, police said.

Harding's sister, Mikcolyn Curtis, tearfully said Monday that her brother told her just hours before her his death that he wanted to provide a better life for their mother.

"He didn't have nothing on his mind to blow his own brains out," Curtis said.

Pointer said Harding's family rejects the notion that he was on the run and want police to provide them with a preliminary autopsy report, witness statements, surveillance video and gunshot residue test results.

"So they can have the closure they are entitled to," Pointer said.

Pointer said they also want witnesses who saw what happened to come forth.

"What's in dispute is the truth and we want to get to the bottom of this situation," Pointer said. "We've been told a number of different things and we have information that is conflicting. We need to sort this out."

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon




Advertising