The Army sergeant shot dead by a Tacoma police officer last month had a gun in his hand and was trying to kick open the door of a Hilltop house just before the officer opened fire, court documents show.
The documents, part of a police application for a search warrant filed the evening of the shooting, also contain other details about the 20 minutes or so leading up the Prince Gavin’s death on the front porch of a house in the 800 block of South M Street.
But they don’t spell out exactly what transpired between Gavin and officer Keith O’Rourke in the few seconds between when the officer saw Gavin and Gavin was killed.
Police Chief Don Ramsdell has said O’Rourke felt threatened by Gavin, and fired two shots at him about 4 p.m. Aug. 31. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office reported Gavin, 29, died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Wednesday the department still is reviewing evidence collected during an investigation of the shooting.
“But it appears at this time that the officer’s actions were within department policy,” said Fulghum, reiterating comments made by Ramsdell the day of the shooting.
The call that ultimately brought Gavin to the attention of police began at 3:42 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 7000 block of South 12th Street, according to the search warrant records.
Several people called 911 to report “hearing a woman screaming for help, loud thumping noises coming from the apartment and a black male believed to be involved walking out of the apartment and then going back inside,” the records show.
Four minutes later, a woman who identified herself as Gavin’s girlfriend called 911 to say she’d been in a physical altercation with Gavin and that “he had assaulted her,” the records show. The woman told a 911 operator she would wait at the apartment complex for police.
An ex-girlfriend of Gavin’s, Nicole Lee, told The News Tribune the day after the shooting that Gavin lived at the apartment complex and the woman who called 911 was helping him move.
Officers arrived at the complex six minutes later but did not immediately find the woman. She called back to 911 at 3:56 p.m. to say she was driving to her home on South M Street and would wait for police there, the records show.
O’Rourke, a uniformed patrolman who works the Hilltop area, was dispatched to M Street, police later said. He was not named in the search warrant.
“As the officer arrived, he saw a black male exit a silver Ford pickup truck and walk across the street towards 809 S. M Street,” the records show.
O’Rourke parked his patrol car and got out as Gavin walked to the front porch.
“The officer saw the black male attempting to kick open the front door and observed a gun in his hand,” the records show. “An officer subsequently fatally shot the suspect, who is now deceased on the front porch of 809 S. M St.”
Lee said Gavin was a combat medic who twice deployed to Iraq from Joint Base Lewis-McChord but was transferring to a post in Colorado at the time of his death. She described him as a model citizen who would never menace a police officer.
O’Rourke is a six-year veteran of the department. He’d been at the scene of two previous officer-involved shootings, but the Aug. 31 incident was the first time he fired his weapon on duty, police said. He remains on paid email@example.com 253-597-8644 blog.thenewstribune.com/crime @TNTadam