The circumstances that led an off-duty Lakewood police officer to shoot a man in Kitsap County early Sunday remained unclear Monday.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office’s narrative of Officer Darrell Moore’s shooting of Thomas St. Clair, 24, begins when its deputies arrive at the scene of the shooting about 3:50 a.m. but does not state why the officer stopped initially.
Moore, who was driving his patrol car, was off duty and driving to his Kitsap County home.
Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson said he did not know what led Moore, 34, to fire at St. Clair.
“I know that there was a confrontation between the officer and several individuals,” Wilson said Monday. “Obviously, he encountered something that was not right when he turned onto the street.”
Lakewood police did not comment because the shooting investigation is not in their jurisdiction.
Police spokesman Chris Lawler said Moore will remain on paid administrative leave until the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office completes its investigation.
St. Clair was arraigned Monday in Superior Court on one charge of unlawful possession of a firearm. He is being held in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the Sheriff’s Office website.
According to Superior Court charging documents:
The Kitsap sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 5100 block of Southeast Granada Place, south of Port Orchard, after a neighbor called in an assault with gunshots.
“Moore apparently contacted St. Claire at a vehicle parked in front of the residence while in his marked patrol vehicle and in uniform,” the documents state, misspelling St. Clair’s last name. “An altercation occurred between the two of them, resulting in Moore firing multiple shots, striking St. Claire in his arm.”
The deputies found a handgun near St. Clair. He denied it was his, though he said his fingerprints might be on it because he pushed it away as he fell to the ground after being wounded.
He later told deputies he took the gun from his pocket after he was shot and threw the weapon as he was falling.
St. Clair’s girlfriend told deputies she got to the house about an hour before the shooting, showing up in a red Mercury Cougar she said they recently bought from his grandmother.
Just before the shooting, St. Clair told her he was expecting a friend to come over and pick something up, then he went outside.
She heard someone say not to shoot their gun, then heard six or seven gunshots. She went outside and found St. Clair on the ground with a gunshot wound.
St. Clair was taken to a Tacoma hospital for treatment.
When he was released to Kitsap sheriff’s deputies, he told them Moore had been harassing him and that he recognized Moore was a police officer because of his gun holster.
St. Clair said he walked to the front of his car to get a cigarette, knowing he had a pistol in his pocket that he couldn’t possess because of convictions for third-degree assault and three other felonies.
He tried to hide his weapon from Moore before he was patted down, he said, then tried to squirm away. St. Clair said his hands were up when he was shot, but he also said Moore told him to put the gun away at least once before he was shot.
The charging documents do not include any information from Moore.
Moore has been a police officer for more than 12 years and with Lakewood Police Department for more than four years, Lawler said.
Moore was one of two officers who fired their weapons in the June 18, 2013, fatal shooting of Patrick O’Meara, 28.
O’Meara, who had been wanted on a felony warrant, had waved a gun during the confrontation with the officers, police said, then, lunging at them and prompting the officers to shoot O’Meara three times.
The gun turned out to be a realistic-looking cap gun, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said when clearing Moore and the other officer of wrongdoing in October 2013.