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New details emerge in case of driver who outshot police
By LEVI PULKKINEN
Emerging details in an exchange of gunfire involving three undercover Seattle police officers contradict initial statements from the department that the driver who led police on a late-night chase was still at large.
The driver, a 28-year-old Seattle man, actually turned himself in to authorities -- hours before police public information officers erroneously said he was still on the loose.
Police on Tuesday acknowledged that the driver -- who shot up the officers' unmarked car Thursday night after leading them on a chase through Seattle streets -- likely didn't know who was pursuing him.
The incident began just before midnight on Denny Way when three undercover detectives riding in a Ford Edge were cut off by a white Cadillac, according to police statements. The Cadillac's driver then braked to pull alongside the undercover police near the intersection of Denny Way and Terry Avenue, according to investigators' statements.
"He started yelling and swearing at the officers," a Seattle police investigator wrote in a report. "(Of course, he did not know they were police officers.)"
Police said the man then drew an automatic pistol, cocked it and pointed it at the officers. In response, the officer driving the unmarked car fired one shot at the Cadillac, missing both the car and the driver.
Calls made Tuesday night to the alleged driver of the Cadillac and his attorney were not returned.
Police spokeswoman Renee Witt on Tuesday said it's likely the detectives -- two officers and a sergeant -- never identified themselves as police. "I don't know if there was even an opportunity to do so," she said.
The Cadillac sped away after the officer fired, and the officers pursued, according to the report. While the Edge was not equipped with emergency lights or a siren -- and lacked the horsepower to keep up with the Cadillac -- the undercover officers chased the larger car north and called for backup.
Witt defended the decision to continue the pursuit even though the officers' vehicle lacked lights and sirens.
"They were able to do it in a safe manner," Witt said. "There's not much traffic at that time of night."
The officers thought they'd lost the Cadillac as they approached the intersection of Green Lake Drive North and North 80th Street, according to court documents. But the Cadillac's driver had stopped his car and positioned himself to shoot from the driver's side window.
According to police, the Cadillac's driver fired three shots at the Edge, disabling the vehicle with two flat tires without injuring the officers. The Cadillac then fled the scene.
The man's last known address is blocks away from the site of the shooting, according to court documents. The P-I is not naming the man or the officers involved because no one has been charged with a crime.
Contrary to earlier police statements, the Cadillac's driver surrendered to authorities Friday at an attorney's office in downtown Seattle, according to court documents. He declined to give a statement to the investigators examining the case.
The man was jailed but released on his own recognizance after a bail hearing Saturday. King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Dan Donohoe said prosecutors had asked that the man be held on $250,000 bail on suspicion of assault.
"We felt he was a danger to the community," Donohoe said.
Police investigators handed the case over to the prosecutor's office Tuesday. Donohoe said a charging decision will likely be made Wednesday.
The police Firearms Review Board also will investigate to see whether officers adhered to department policy, Witt said.