Saturday, May 4, 2019

Deadly sting, wrong target: How the death of a cop’s son led King County deputies to kill a Des Moines teen

The afternoon of Jan. 25, 2017, Moises Radcliffe interrupted a car prowl in the parking lot of Beaver Lake Park in Sammamish. The son of a cop, the 22-year-old grabbed a handgun from his vehicle and confronted the thieves, shooting at them as they ran him down with their car and dragged him to death.
Two days later, King County sheriff’s detectives investigating Radcliffe’s homicide gunned down 17-year-old Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens on a dark Des Moines street in a hastily arranged sting operation. Another boy — Dajohntae Richard, a 16-year-old who was the actual target of the operation — fled, to be arrested by a SWAT team later that night.
Within hours, deputies would learn they had it all wrong. Neither boy, it turned out, had anything to do with Radcliffe’s death.
How the death of one young man, the son of a Seattle police officer, led to the death of another — a black teen killed by police — emerges through hundreds of pages of sheriff’s documents and interviews to reveal a troubling string of investigative missteps, discrepancies in the stories of the deputies who fired, and assumptions by investigators made in the face of evidence that they were on the wrong track.
Indeed, sheriff’s reports and records show that the day Dunlap-Gittens died, detectives had been following two teenage girls known to be involved in Radcliffe’s death. Fingerprints had linked them to stolen items at the scene, and a surveillance photograph from a Renton Fred Meyer taken an hour after the homicide clearly showed one of them using a credit card taken from the homicide scene. They and another girl would later plead guilty to crimes related to Radcliffe’s death.

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