A teen who was present during the deputy-involved shooting that killed a Des Moines 17-year-old earlier this year made conflicting statements in court Wednesday about whether his friend pulled a gun on deputies.
The teen said in an interview hours after the shooting that he thought Chance Gittens fired first on King County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who then shot back.
The teen backed off on those statements, saying he did not see a gun in Gittens’s hand, though he stood by his claim that his friend was armed with a pistol.
“You knew that he had one?” a prosecutor asked the teen.
“Yeah,” he responded.
“And you knew it was loaded?”
“Yeah,” said the teen, who admitted that he also carried a gun the night of the shooting.
Chance Gittens died after he was shot by deputies during an undercover operation near a Des Moines apartment complex in January. Investigators were trying to make contact with Gittens’s friend, who they considered a person of interest in a Sammamish homicide.
That teen, who is currently serving a sentence, testified during day three of an inquest, Wednesday, at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. It’s unclear if his sentence is related to the Gittens case. The inquest is an effort by the coroner to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Gittens’s death. It is not a trial of the deputies who fired the shots.
Asked to explain the discrepancy between his statements in the interview with detectives and his statements in court, the teen said he wasn’t thinking clearly in the hours after the shooting when investigators questioned him.
“My mind wasn’t really focused on answering questions,” he said. “At the moment I was in shock.”
The teen admitted to lying to investigators during the first portion of their interview after the shooting, when he concocted a storyline about who was involved with the shooting.
Jurors, who are tasked with answering a set of questions about what they learn in court, also viewed photos from the shooting scene, showing a pistol on the ground near where Gittens collapsed.
A detective told the court there was no bullet in the chamber, but the magazine was full.
The inquest is expected to last through the end of the week.