Kevin Peterson Jr. is the 21-year-old African American man who was shot dead by Clark County sheriff’s deputies on the evening of October 29, 2020, in Hazel Dell, Washington.
Peterson was identified as the victim of the shooting by his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Olivia Selto, on Twitter. Peterson’s friend, artist Jake Thompson, also identified the 21-year-old as the victim. Heavy has reached out to both Selto and Thompson for further comment on the shooting.
Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins held a press conference Friday, where he started off by admitting “there is a lot about this situation that [I don’t] know.”
“While I have not spoken with the deputies involved in this matter, I am confident that they are upset at the unfortunate outcome of this encounter,” he said.
Atkins explained the events of the previous night:
Just before 6PM on last night, detectives from the Clark/Vancouver Drug Task Force were conducting a narcotics investigation in the 6800 block of NE Hwy 99. A foot pursuit ensued where deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office were chasing a man with a firearm. The information I have is that upon entering the parking lot of a bank, the man reportedly fired his weapon at the deputies. The deputies returned fire and the subject was tragically killed. It is my understanding that the man’s firearm was observed at the scene.
Atkins said the investigation has been turned over to an independent investigative team led by the Camas Police Department.
Peterson Was on FaceTime With His Girlfriend When the Shooting Took Place
Olivia Selto told The Columbian that she was on the phone with Peterson prior to the shooting. Selto said that she remained on the phone with Peterson for nine minutes “until the police finally came over and hung up the phone.” Selto added, “I heard his last words and everything. I’m devastated, and we will get justice for his wrongful death.”
In a Twitter post, Selto said that she was face timing with Peterson when the shooting took place. Selto wrote in a separate tweet, “Kevin did everything for me.. doesn’t matter what it was or what time he always came when i asked. I regret every argument please come back.”
In an interview with The Oregonian, Peterson’s father, Kevin Peterson, said authorities did not allow him to see his son’s body until almost 12 hours after the shooting. Peterson was a graduate of Union High School in Vancouver as part of the class, having moved to the area from Portland during middle school, according to The Oregonian.
The Shooting Has Led to Demonstrations in the Area
The Clark County Sheriffs appear to be suiting up with helmets and batons. pic.twitter.com/fB0uKtNgpG
— Cascadianphotog Media (@Cascadianphotog) October 30, 2020
Protestors are gathered in Vancouver, Washington
— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) October 30, 2020
KATU reported on October 29 that a “few dozen protesters” were gathered at the scene were Peterson was killed. A Twitter user with the handle @MacSmiff posted multiple videos and photos from the area around Highway 99. The user said that Peterson’s family was at the scene. The user tweeted that he knows the victim’s sister adding, “Kevin Peterson was 21 years old with a daughter who isn’t even 1 yet. She has to grow up with no father because cops shoot Black people in the back on a regular basis.”
The Columbian reported hundreds of attendees at a Friday night vigil for Peterson. The group gathered in the bank parking lot where the shooting occurred, where they lit candles and left messages for Peterson.
The newspaper said another group gathered down the street from the vigil, waving American flags, “Blue Lives Matter” flags and pro-President Donald Trump flags. Amanda Cowan, a photojournalist for The Columbian, documented the evening’s gatherings with videos and still photos on her Twitter page.
A crowd gathered for a candlelight vigil for Kevin Peterson Jr. tonight at the U.S. Bank Hazel Dell. A raucous crowd of Trump supporters also gathered across the street. Here's a photo gallery: https://t.co/PmL5CPkH6F pic.twitter.com/gclHRnfhIl
— AmandaCowanPhoto (@AmandaCowan10) October 31, 2020
— Jake Thompson (@__27K) October 30, 2020
Peterson’s last post on his Twitter page came on the day of his death. Peterson posted a photo of a pair of sneakers.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump Takes on Peterson’s Case
@AttorneyCrump words don’t explain how thankful I am to have you take our case. We WILL get justice.
— liv (@liviiaselto) October 30, 2020
Attorney Ben Crump, who specializes in civil rights cases, has agreed to represent Peterson’s family in legal proceedings, according to a Twitter post from Selto.
“@AttorneyCrump words don’t explain how thankful I am to have you take our case. We WILL get justice,” the tweet says.
A February 2019 profile of Crump by Sojourners Magazine says calling Crump “has become the African-American family emergency plan.” In recent years, the lawyer has represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor, among many others.