28-year-old man shot dead by Clark County MPs was under investigation by Vancouver police, records show
Vancouver Police had followed a 28-year-old man for at least two weeks before he was shot dead by Clark County Sheriff’s deputies on October 17, according to court documents obtained by the Oregonian / OregonLive.
According to an affidavit filed Oct. 20, Vancouver police detectives had requested a search warrant to place a tracking device on a 2003 white Ford Expedition that Vancouver’s Kfin Karuo was driving.
Detective Dennis Devlin, who has worked for the Vancouver Police Department for over 15 years, wrote that Karuo was a “wanted fugitive” with probable cause of arrest for first degree assault and illegal possession of a weapon. after he allegedly brandished a gun and pointed it at a man on September 29, documents said.
Just before midnight on September 29, Vancouver police were called to a parking lot in the Tobacco Zone, 11320 NE 49th St., where documents indicate a man called the police and said a 2003 Ford Expedition Blanche had stopped beside him. An occupant of the SUV asked why he was in the parking lot, accusing him of being a cop, according to documents. When the caller said he replied, “It’s none of your business,” the man pointed a handgun at him and said, “Get him. [expletive] from here, ”according to the Vancouver police investigation.
The man in the SUV was described as a man in his early 30s, beefy and wearing a black hoodie, according to documents. Police later said the man was Karuo, a Micronesian who immigrated to the United States as a boy.
The appellant had a board camera in his car that videotaped the altercation, which he then turned over to police, according to documents. The man told police he was homeless and lived in his car, which he often parked in the Tobacco Zone parking lot because his daughter lives nearby.
The man told police he feared for his life during the exchange and feared being shot, according to the affidavit. The man also described the gun pointed at him as a dull silver semi-auto, possibly a Sig-Sauer brand gun, according to documents.
Hours later, according to the affidavit, police drove through Alder Creek Apartments in Vancouver and found the car appellant described with a license plate that matched the one captured on video. The Ford Expedition was not registered in Karuo, police said.
Documents have shown that in a separate incident that helped police tie the case to Karuo, a manager of Alder Creek Apartments asked Vancouver police to help him complete eviction paperwork for a tenant squatter named Kfin Karuo who, according to the director, drove the Ford Expedition and had a “history of wielding” a weapon.
The Ford expedition was also linked to another disruption at Alder Creek Apartments earlier this year and an aggravated assault at a Vancouver 7-Eleven in 2019, police said.
Police monitored the SUV and then filed a search warrant to place a GPS to track Karuo’s whereabouts through October, according to documents obtained by the Oregonian / OregonLive.
Karuo was shot and killed by Clark County Sheriff’s Deputies before Vancouver police could arrest him in connection with the September 29 assault.
Just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 17, according to an affidavit, Clark County Sheriff’s Deputies Forrest Gonzales and David Delin were patrolling northeastern Vancouver when they saw a white Ford Expedition matching the description of ‘a notice the sheriff’s office had already received, which indicated the driver of the SUV was wanted for probable cause of assault with a firearm.
Devlin, the detective who requested the search warrant, sent a “Wanted Person / Office Safety” bulletin on October 7.
Gonzales chased Karuo and stopped the SUV with a tactical maneuver using his vehicle, according to documents. Karuo fled his car on foot and deputies said he pointed a gun at Gonzales and Delin.
The two deputies then opened fire, according to documents. Karuo’s body was found in the driveway of a mobile home with several gunshot wounds. MPs said he held a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his left hand.
The investigative team did not disclose details of the number of shots fired by MPs or the existence of body camera or dashboard footage of the shooting.
An autopsy revealed “presumptive” positive results for amphetamine, methamphetamine and alcohol in Karuo’s system, documents show.
After Karuo’s death, Delin and Gonzales, both Clark County Sheriff’s deputies for three years, were put on administrative leave, as per policy. A team of outside agencies was assembled to investigate the fatal shooting.
The 13-person Southwest Washington Independent Investigative Response Team is comprised primarily of Vancouver police officers. Eight members of the team are lieutenants, sergeants or detectives from the Vancouver Police Department; two are police officers from Battle Ground, one is a detective from the Camas Police Department and two are not members of the law enforcement community.
The independent investigation is led by Lt. Greg Raquer, a commander of the Vancouver Police Department.
All investigative team members are required to sign a “conflict of interest assessment form,” said Kim Kapp, public information officer for the Vancouver Police Department.
Kapp said that despite the fact that Vancouver police are already investigating Karuo, there is no conflict of interest in the investigation into his death.
“The Sept. 29 investigation is a separate investigation,” Kapp said in an email to the Oregonian / OregonLive. “And the Safe Streets Task Force detectives who were investigating the September 29 incident were not involved in the October 17 shooting (shooting involving an officer) and no Safe Streets Task Force detective was involved in the shooting. (independent investigation by the shooting assistant. “
An update Thursday from the team said investigators had conducted interviews with the deputies involved and other officers who witnessed the shooting, and that the team submitted evidence to the criminal laboratory of the Washington State for processing.
Once the investigation is complete, it will be sent to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office for review.
In previous shootings involving officers, including the fatal shooting of Jenoah Donald, 30, in February, Clark County District Attorney Tony Gollik has asked an outside prosecutor to review the investigation for potential criminal charges in order to ensure an independent investigation.
The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to an investigation Thursday into whether Vancouver police had a conflict of interest in participating in the investigation into Karuo’s death.
About 100 of Karuo’s family and friends came together in remembrance last week, demanding justice for their loved ones.
A cousin, Kiwae Anuki, said Karuo was a leader of the Chuukese community church and often organized activities in the community. The Chuuk Islands are part of the Federated States of Micronesia and Karuo’s family was originally from Paata, Anuki said.
Karuo’s father died hours after learning of his son’s death, his family said.
–Savane Eadens; [email protected]; 503-221-6651; @savannaheadens