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King County detective fired after investigation into fatal shooting

Detective George Alvarez was fired from the King County Sheriff's Office for policy violations and 'extremely poor tactical and officer safety decisions.'

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County Detective George Alvarez was fired for policy violations and what the sheriff's office says were "extremely poor tactical and officer safety decisions" leading up to a fatal shooting in Cumberland in 2019.

The decision by Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht was not based on the use of force or shooting of Anthony Chilcott, but decisions Alvarez made leading up to the shooting, according to information released Thursday from the sheriff's office.

On Nov. 25, 2019, Chilcott stole a truck with a poodle inside.

Several days after the truck was stolen, two King County detectives in plain clothes from their Precinct 3 Special Emphasis Team were in an unmarked SUV and saw the stolen truck in the area of the 35200 block of Veazie Cumberland Road S.E with Chilcott and the poodle inside. 

Instead of waiting for backup, Alvarez pulled up beside Chilcott without lights and a siren. He was not wearing clothing identifying him as law enforcement, which was in violation of operating procedure – a policy updated after the fatal shooting of Mi'Chance Dunlap-Gittens in 2017. The decision to contact Chilcott in an unmarked vehicle and without proper clothing put Alvarez, his partner and, possibly, people at a nearby bus stop at risk, according to Johanknecht. 

According to a letter to Alvarez informing him of his termination, the former detective pulled up alongside Chilcott, putting the passenger side of the vehicle where his partner sat close to the suspect. The stolen truck had dark, tinted windows making it "impossible" to see what Chilcott was doing. Though the rationale behind that was the potential risk to nearby people, failing to follow safety practices and training put the detectives at risk, Johanknecht wrote. 

Eventually, it was reported that Chilcott "rammed" the unmarked SUV. Alvarez in turn pushed the truck across the road onto rocks. The truck became stuck.

Both detectives were at risk when they exited the SUV and Chilcott tried to dislodge the vehicle, according to Johanknecht.

Alvarez used a sledgehammer to break the driver's window and reached into the cab trying to turn off the vehicle. Chilcott fought with Alvarez and, at one point, grabbed the detective's gun. At another point, Chilcott pinned Alvarez' arm, trapping the detective's body in the cab. 

Both detectives shot Chilcott because they determined they were at risk, according to the sheriff's office.