Washington police reform law forces deputies to call off K9 search for murder suspect

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Police investigating a murder case in Washington state say they decided not to use a K9 dog in their search for the suspect after taking new reform laws into consideration. 

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department says it responded to 911 calls reporting shots being fired at a Kohl’s store in Puyallup on Wednesday night and when “deputies arrived on scene they found a young male deceased in the north side of the parking lot.” 

“Several people reported seeing a male in a black shirt and black pants running from the shooting and deputies checked the area to see if they could locate anyone matching the description,” the department said in a statement. “A K9 officer was on scene within minutes, but because probable cause had not been developed for a particular individual, they decided not to track for the possible suspect since they could not use force to detain him.”


House Bill 1310, which went into effect in Washington state last weekend, indicates that police now need probable cause before using force, according to KING5. 

“We don’t know who the victim is, we don’t know who the suspect is, so we don’t have probable cause when we show up,” Pierce County Sgt. Darren Moss Jr. told the station. “Although personally we would feel a reward for catching the suspect, we don’t want anyone to be disciplined or fired or de-certified criminally or civilly for violating the new law.” 

KING5 reports that Rep. Roger Goodman, a Democrat, is one of the bill’s supporters. 

“From the majority of agencies typically in my area in Central Puget Sound, they say we understand the Legislatures intent, we agree with the intent to use this force to have more equitable treatment of people in the community,” he told the station. 

Police investigate the scene of a homicide at a Kohl's store in Puyallup, Wash., outside of Seattle. (Pierce County Sheriff's Department)

Police investigate the scene of a homicide at a Kohl’s store in Puyallup, Wash., outside of Seattle. (Pierce County Sheriff’s Department)


“Police should be responding to calls, they should show up. The rules of engagement may change a little bit when they do show up,” he added. “Because we want to focus on de-escalation and less use of force.” 

As of Friday, the suspect has yet to be captured.  

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