King County Prosecutor raises concerns over defunding police as violent crime surges

There is a nationwide trend and King County is no different, as people struggle with a spike in violent crime.

As of Tuesday, more than 140 people were shot in King County and that breaks down to a 44% increase in the number of fatal shootings compared to previous years.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office says the vast majority of the victims are young men under the age of 25 and people of color.

One of the growing list of unsolved cases is the March 23rd double homicide that killed cousins Javon Johnson, 21, and Michael Williams,19, in SeaTac.

“My children were shot in the middle of the street sitting in the car, unarmed getting shot up like that,” great grandmother Gloria King said.

King said she raised the two young men who were also best friends.  

The loss is excruciating and the lack of information from the community is infuriating for King’s family.

“If you know anything or think you know something and you don’t tell, it could be your family next time,” King said.

“The pandemic has shut everything down except violent crime,” said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

The disturbing increase is happening in the midst of budget cuts and Seattle City Council members desire to defund Seattle police.

 “I don’t know any organism that you can cut in half and expect it to live,” Satterberg said.

Without enough resources for police and prosecutors, Satterberg fears they won’t have the ability to respond and solve the cases especially the most violent ones.

“This is violence that disproportionately affect poor people, and affect people of color, and to just walk away from the violence that happens in those communities is absolutely the wrong direction to be going,” Satterberg said.

About 40% of the shootings have happened in Seattle with the rest outside predominately in the Southern part of King County.

Satterberg said holistic investments are needed to prevent violence from happening in the first place. Satterberg says policing should be re-imagined but he also says people like Gloria King deserve accountability.

“I want to know why, what’s going on, it’s going to haunt you from now until, what you need to do is come forward and let us know what’s going on,” King said. 

King said she will never get closure until the double homicide is solved. Detectives with the King County Sheriff’s Office don’t have enough evidence to determine if the shooting that killed the cousins was targeted or random.