Crime

Man fatally shot by Lakewood police had just left hospital, family says

Daniel Covarrubias was suffering from hallucinations in the hours prior to his deadly confrontation with Lakewood police, his family said Wednesday.

The 37-year-old man was evaluated at St. Clare Hospital on Tuesday and then released within hours of being shot by two Lakewood police officers at a lumberyard.

Police said the officers opened fire when Covarrubias reached into his pocket. They have not yet said whether Covarrubias had a weapon.

Ygnacio Covarrubias said Wednesday he believes his son was walking home from the hospital when the deadly encounter took place.

The incident began after a suspicious person was reported at Pinnacle Lumber & Plywood in the 3600 block of 108th Street Southwest.

Several callers reported seeing a man running before he climbed a fence into the lumberyard, prompting employees to call 911.

Lt. Chris Lawler said officers weren’t pursuing Covarrubias.

“No police agencies in the area were chasing him or actively looking for him prior to the lumberyard employees calling 911,” according to a news release.

Two officers found Covarrubias hiding atop a 25-foot-tall stack of lumber. They fired after Covarrubias allegedly reached into his pocket.

It’s unclear how many times Covarrubias was shot. He later died at the hospital.

Lawler said Wednesday the department will not identify the officers, reveal whether a weapon was found at the scene or talk about the investigation until the involved officers give their statements about what happened.

“Without their information, there’s nothing we can say,” he said. “It’s speculative if we say anything.”

The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting.

Information will be released to the Covarrubias family after Lakewood police complete their investigation, Lawler said.

His family said Covarrubias struggled for years with mental problems, alcoholism and an addiction to methamphetamine.

But they said he was trying to clean up and had enrolled at Bates Technical College in hopes of becoming a mechanic.

“He was a good person when he wasn’t using,” his father said.

Covarrubias had seven children who range in age from 13 to 22, and he loved to spend time outside with them, often taking them camping.

“He was a great father. He was very patient and kind to them,” Ygnacio Covarrubias said.

“He was very spiritual and he loved people,” his sister Sherrie Davis told KIRO-TV. “He loved his children and the family most.”

The drugs and mental problems sometimes took hold, though.

He was involuntarily committed once in the last two years after calling 911 for help. On another occasion, Tacoma police were called to Sixth Avenue when Covarrubias was behaving erratically.

Covarrubias also had several brushes with the law in the last decade.

He has convictions for assault, theft, malicious mischief and taking a motor vehicle without permission.

“Anything that had to do with the police, it would all stem from his chemical dependency,” another sister, Lana Covarrubias, told KIRO.

The involved officers, ages 39 and 48, are on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure after a police shooting.

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