Holding signs and chanting “Justice for Jackie,” close to 300 people marched Wednesday from the Puyallup Tribal Administration building to the U.S. District courthouse in downtown Tacoma.
The group staged the peaceful protest to call attention to the Jan. 28 shooting death of Jacqueline D. Salyers, a 33-year-old member of the Puyallup Tribe.
A Tacoma police officer shot Salyers when, according to the department, she drove at two officers who tried to approach a robbery suspect who was with her.
Relatives of Salyers told The News Tribune they believe police have unnecessarily withheld information about her death.
“Nobody said nothing but that she was dead,” Salyers’ sister, Lesley Salyers, said Wednesday. “We’ve had to get everything from the community.”
Salyers’ mother, Lisa Earl, called for a “full investigation” of the shooting.
“Things have come to me that make more sense than what I was told by police,” she said.
Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said Wednesday that Salyers’ death remains under investigation.
“It will conclude when all the results are back from the state lab, and it will be referred to the prosecutor’s office,” she said. “All indications at this time are that the officer acted when he felt his life was endangered.”
After the shooting, the two officers — Scott Campbell, 30, who shot Salyers, and his partner, Aaron Joseph, 33 — were placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure. They have since returned to work.
“We’re coming together to find answers.”
Chester Earl, Puyallup Tribal member and protest organizer
On Wednesday, protesters called for the officers to be charged in Salyers’ death.
Standing in front of the federal courthouse, protest organizer Chester Earl called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate, saying “We need you to protect us.”
Protesters walked about two miles from the tribe’s headquarters at 3009 Portland Ave. E. to the courthouse on Pacific Avenue. Along the way they stopped to form drum circles, chant and sing.
Tacoma police and Washington State Patrol troopers blocked side streets and the Interstate 5 off-ramp to Portland Avenue to ensure the protesters could safely walk the route.
Puyallup Tribal police also accompanied the group.
As they passed, people came to storefronts to see what was happening.
Those who couldn’t walk in the protest followed in vans, a large bus and a trolley. Motorcyclists led the way.
Initially organizers said they planned to block state Route 509. They temporarily blocked the intersection at Puyallup and Portland avenues that leads to state Route 509, but didn’t try to reach the highway.
State Patrol troopers were there to make sure they didn’t.
Tacoma police have given this account of the shooting Jan. 28:
Officers looking for Kenneth Wright Jr., a 32-year-old homeless man wanted on two outstanding warrants, spotted him about 11:45 p.m. in the passenger seat of a pickup in the 3300 block of South Sawyer Street.
The officers got out of their patrol car and started to walk toward the car.
Salyers, who was behind the wheel, hit the gas pedal and drove at the officers. One officer fired at her and hit her at least once. Wright got out of the truck, armed with a rifle, and ran away.
The officers tried to help Salyers and summoned paramedics, but she died at the scene.
Neither officer was injured.
“I just hope the community itself, that we could all support each other and make things better and have a better relationship with the police department, not be against each other.”
Lesley Salyers, sister of Jacquelyn Salyers who was shot and killed by Tacoma police
Wright was arrested Feb. 15 at a house in the 4400 block of South Asotin Street.
Members of the tribal community said they organized the protest because they question the police version of Salyers’ killing and “want to know the truth.”
“I hope we can bring justice to Jackie and her family,” said Earl, a member of the Puyallup Tribe. “We’re coming together to find answers.”
Lesley Salyers described her younger sister as a “very caring, loving, generous person naturally.”
“She was a coat-off-her-back type of person,” she said.
Lesley Salyers said her family learned her sister was pregnant after she died. They don’t know whether she knew, she said.
She said she hopes the protest helps the people who knew and loved her sister deal with their pain and maybe lead to better communication between Tacoma police and the community they serve.
She also said she now supports requiring police officers to wear body cameras.
“I just hope the community itself, that we could all support each other and make things better and have a better relationship with the Police Department, not be against each other,” Lesley Salyers said