Cheney police officers shot and killed a man late Monday after they say he moved toward them with a knife.
Officers were called to Mitchell’s Harvest Foods at 116 W. First St. on the southwest side of town at about 11:40 p.m. on a report of a disorderly man armed with a knife outside of the store, the Cheney Police Department said in a news release.
The man was in the parking lot of the store with the weapon in his hand when officers arrived, the release said. He ignored several of the officers’ commands and “moved toward” officers with the knife in his hand, according to the release.
At about 11:53 p.m., according to police scanner traffic, three officers fired at the man with their weapons as he stood near the store’s front door. Police then began “immediate” life-saving efforts. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Rebecca Pettingill, an Eastern Washington University student working in the store’s produce section at the time of the shooting, said she and two coworkers were closing up for the night when she heard what she described as firecrackers.
“Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,” she said. “Initially, I thought it was somebody banging with both hands on the glass. I didn’t register it was gunshots.”
Pettingill said she started walking toward the front doors on the southwest side of the building when she saw the backs of two officers as they moved sideways to the right toward the back of the building, with their guns pointed at the ground in the direction of First Street.
“I thought, ‘Oh man, those are guns, those are police right outside, that was gunshots,’ ” she said.
During the gunfire, Pettingill said, one of her coworkers was startled by falling drywall. One of the bullets apparently had pierced the wall at an upward angle and lodged itself in the ceiling above the woman’s head.
The employees hid inside their manager’s office, locked the door and waited while they watched a TV screen broadcasting surveillance video.
Once police cleared the scene, she said, officers were confused after learning nobody in the store had called 911 about the man who was reportedly waving the weapon around outside.
“We had no idea anything was going on out there,” she said. “We had no idea until shots were actually fired.”
Pettingill said store staff later learned the man came in earlier that day and bought cigarettes without causing problems.
Ryan Reed, who lives in a home directly behind the store on Second Street, said he was getting ready for bed around midnight when he heard officers yelling while running back and forth in the store’s parking lot.
“One of the officers thought there might be someone behind a dumpster or behind the store,” he said. “He was shouting ‘You better come! You better come out!’ ”
Reed said officers checked the area, but he didn’t see or hear anyone behind the store. He also did not hear any gunshots from officers.
“I guess the store muffled sound pretty good,” he said.
The Washington State Patrol is leading the investigation into the incident. The three officers were placed on paid administrative leave under standard protocol.