Fatal shooting by officer ruled justified

A Tacoma police officer acted justifiably when he shot and killed an Army sergeant outside a Hilltop house last summer, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist has decided.

Officer Keith O’Rourke feared for his life when Prince Jamel Gavin raised a pistol toward O’Rourke during a confrontation Aug. 31, Lindquist said Tuesday.

“This began as a domestic violence call and ended when Mr. Gavin pointed a handgun at the officer,” Lindquist said. “The officer acted to protect himself and anyone inside the 911 caller’s house.”

The shooting was investigated by police, county prosecutors and the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

Gavin, 29, died at the scene after being struck in the chest. Police found a .45-caliber pistol near his body.

The incident began when a woman in another part of the city called 911 to report Gavin had assaulted her, court records show. The woman, who said she was Gavin’s girlfriend, told police Gavin might be headed to her house in the 800 block of South M Street. The woman said she feared Gavin might assault her son there, records show.

O’Rourke was dispatched to the house to intercept Gavin. When he arrived, he saw a man later identified as Gavin get out of a pickup and walk toward a house, prosecutors said. The man was carrying a gun.

O’Rourke ordered the man to stop and drop the weapon, but Gavin refused, continued to the house and tried to force his way inside, authorities said.

O’Rourke then moved behind a vehicle parked on the street and again told Gavin to drop his weapon, records state. Instead, Gavin turned toward O’Rourke and began to raise his gun. That’s when O’Rourke shot him, authorities said.

An autopsy showed Gavin had a synthetic marijuana substance called “Zombie Matter” in his system at the time of his death, records show. Investigators also found the substance in his truck.