Inquest Jury: Federal Way officers were 'justified' in 2017 shooting death of Robert Lightfeather

An inquest jury found on Friday that the two Federal Way police officers who shot and killed a man back in 2017 were justified in their actions.

In Oct. 2017, 33-year-old Robert Lightfeather was shot and killed by Federal Way Police. During the investigation, officials said Lightfeather pointed a gun at two men outside the Elephant Car Wash on Pacific Highway South. Detectives said that once officers arrived to the scene, Lightfeather aimed his gun at them, and he was shot multiple times.

King County conducted an inquest into Lightfeather’s death in Aug. 2022. In the week of Sept. 26, the jury heard testimony from multiple witnesses, including the two officers who shot Lightfeather.

One officer said that as he was getting out of his cruiser, Lightfeather pointed a gun at him, then racked the slide of the gun and aimed it at him again.

According to officials with the King County Inquest Program, the key finding in the jury’s responses to the hearings was that the officer’s use of deadly force was justified.

Inquests are requested by the county coroner to take a closer look at the cause and facts in law-enforcement involved deaths. King County’s charter requires a jury to review all inquests of any death caused by police.

Lightfeather’s case is the third to be heard under the revised system. The last case was for the death of Charleena Lyles, shot and killed by Seattle Police in 2017. The shooting was found justified during an inquest in July.

In 2017, inquests were paused over concerns of transparency and clarity of the process. There were questions about rushed deadlines, access to witnesses and orders issued by the inquest administrator. The process was revised after the pause, and in 2021, Washington Supreme Court upheld the changes.

King County Executive Dow Constantine signed an order to resume inquests in 2022.

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