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Man killed in officer-involved shooting in Tacoma ID’d

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Sep. 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm with 13 Comments »
September 1, 2012 4:42 pm

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the man shot and killed by a Tacoma police officer in the city’s Hilltop neighborhood on Friday as 29-year-old Prince Jamel Gavin.

Prince was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, it reported Saturday.

Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield, spokesman for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said Saturday the individual killed in the officer-involved shooting was a soldier formerly assigned to the base who was the process of transferring to another base.

Dangerfield said he would not confirm the name released by the medical examiner’s office until the Army verified it had notified the soldier’s family of his death.

Gavin’s Facebook page indicated he was a combat medic and he was set to report to a military base in Colorado on Sept. 10.

Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Saturday the name of the officer wasn’t being released to give him time to notify family members and others of the incident.

Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell said Friday the officer felt threatened by Gavin and fired two shots at him following a brief confrontation on the 800 block of South M Street.

Investigators later found a .45-caliber handgun by Gavin’s body, although it was unclear immediately after the shooting whether the man pointed the gun at the officer.

“My understanding was it (the gun) was in his hand when he got out of his truck and ran toward the house,” Fulghum said Saturday. “What took place after that, I don’t know.”

The officer, who has been on the force for about five years, is on paid administrative leave — standard procedure when an officer uses deadly force on the job — and will be interviewed by investigators later in the week.

The incident began when officers were dispatched to domestic violence call elsewhere in Tacoma. They found no one there but believed that one person reported involved lived at the M Street address.

Once a different officer arrived, he spotted Gavin getting out of a truck. Gavin spotted the officer and ran toward the house.

Gavin turned at one point, leading to the confrontation that led to the officer feeling threatened and firing his service weapon, Ramsdell said Friday. The officer was in the middle of the street, and Gavin was shot and collapsed on the porch of the house.

The police chief said initial indications were the officer acted reasonably and within department guidelines for using deadly force. It’s the second time the officer has been involved in a shooting, Ramsdell said, although he didn’t know the details of the prior incident.

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Leave a comment Comments → 13
  1. Let me get this straight. The TNT is withholding the name of the officer involved in the shooting until he/she has time to speak to his/her family and ‘others’. The details of the shooting are foggy, at best. We don’t know if the victim was pointing the gun at the officer or if the officer simply felt ‘threatened’. The spokesperson from JBLM asked that the name of the victim be withheld until his family had been notified, which under any circumstance is the decent thing to do. The TNT promptly went to victim’s Facebook page to gain more information and then printed his name. I think that this is discrimination and highly unethical. I’m not judging right or wrong on the part of the officer or victim, just the reporting.

  2. Christian Hill says:

    SallyZ, The News Tribune is not withholding the name of the officer. The Tacoma Police Department is not releasing it for the reason stated in the story.

  3. I look forward to hearing more about the officer’s “fear” and more about Prince Jamel Gavin running away.

    It’s more than disconcerting, so I hope the facts – and reason for their delay – are quickly on the way.

  4. barrysoetoro says:

    “It’s the second time the officer has been involved in a shooting, Ramsdell said, although he didn’t know the details of the prior incident.”

    officers go their entire career without drawing their weapons but this guy fired it twice…….ramsdell better take an interest

  5. Cloud – The story stated “gun shot wound to the chest” not the back. He was not running away when the officer fired.

  6. Barry, you are a fool to belive “officers go their entire career without drawing their weapons.” Maybe in small town America, but not Tacoma/Lakewood/Seattle and other cities that are crime riddled. So what that he’s been involved in a prior shooting. He’s working a tough area in a tough cites and he was justified in the shooting. None of you have a clue what happened. Obviously none of you have been confronted/threatened with a firearm. Slow down and wait for the deatils. Keep this in mind……if you’re armed when confronted by an officer, you had better drop your weapon. If not, YOU sealed your fate. He/she is going home at the end of their shift.

  7. kwestong says:

    Always discrimination, that’s the go to rant of the declaration of the unjust…please.

  8. Disasterpiece101 says:

    Can anyone say drop gun?

  9. Thank you RDP22 but what I’m wondering is what the unidentified officer “felt threatened” by.

    [...“My understanding was it (the gun) was in his hand when he got out of his truck and ran toward the house,” Fulghum said...]

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about what part that gun played, or didn’t play.

    [...Investigators *later* found a .45-caliber handgun by Gavin’s body, although it was unclear immediately after the shooting whether the man pointed the gun at the officer...]

    What constitutes scaring an officer? Are officers more afraid in certain parts of town? Does running away from them, ignoring them, or disobeying them scare them into killing people? Is that okay?

    If we have a weapon but don’t point it or lunge will we be killed?

    Increasingly, our shared sorrow about slain officers, has led us to accept any excuse for city sanctioned homicides – as long as the officer says he was afraid. I am not saying this multiple homicide officer is unjustified – just where is the line and

    why the delay of facts?

    Is it hard to find the right words to explain why United States Army sergeant Prince Gavin who made it through 2 tours to Iraq alive – earning “numerous medals, including medals for good conduct” – couldn’t make it off of Hilltop?

    People deserve to know all the details – of why he deserved death without trial. If he was attacking the officer we understand. If he was pointing the gun at someone, we get it. So far it doesn’t feel like that’s what happened though. Serve it to us straight.

    More on Prince Gavin:

  10. MrCarleone says:


    Jesus, Einstein !

    A .45 drop-gun ?

  11. If I could delete and correct my last comment I would. I would refer to the unidentified officer who killed Prince Gavin as having been involved in multiple shootings, not homicides – because I don’t know that the last one was fatal.

  12. Man police shot ‘follows the rules,’ girlfriend says
    Sept. 2, 2012
    Army Sgt. Prince Gavin was moving from Tacoma on the day he was shot and killed by a police officer, his girlfriend said Saturday. Tacoma police released no new details Saturday… “He’s really a square-bear, nerdy guy that follows the rules,” said Lee, 34, of Tacoma. “He’s a good citizen. He’s a model citizen”…

  13. hammond7606 says:

    I knew prince when he was a child in grade school. he was the most polite, well mannered young man of all my daughters friends. he was part of my family for a time… it seems prince went every where with us.
    it is an honor knowing him..
    I can not for any reason believe he would put this officers life in danger. Couldn’t this veteran cop get him to drop the gun? Did he even try?
    America lost a good man and a brave soldier.
    Rest In Peace Prince

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