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Pierce County Prosecutor Finds Officer’s Use of Deadly Force Justifiable

Sumner resident Patrick Dunford, 47, was fatally shot last October by an officer after he called 911 to report that he had a hostage and was suicidal.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office and Sumner Police Department recently completed their independent and concurrent investigations regarding the shooting death of 47-year-old Patrick Don Dunford.

In October 2012, the Sumner man died from a gunshot wound inflicted by Milton Police Department Officer Zack Kenyon, a member of the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team.  

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the death was justifiable homicide under state law.

“Mr. Dunford left several suicide notes inside his residence, he said he had a .357 handgun and a hostage, and he exited the house with what appeared to be a gun, which he pointed it at the officers,” said Lindquist. “This is a sad case of suicide-by-cop.”

On Oct. 24, 2012, Dunford called 911 from his residence in the city limits of Sumner and reported that he was suicidal. He also stated that he had a hostage inside his residence. When officers contacted Dunford by telephone, he told them that he had a handgun and was suicidal. 

Sumner police officers and the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team responded to Dunford’s residence. Dunford exited his residence and pointed what appeared to be an orange painted handgun at SWAT team members who were positioning themselves around Dunford’s house. Dunford ignored officers’ commands to stop and drop the weapon and instead continued to walk toward them. Dunford pointed the weapon at Officer Kenyon. Officer Kenyon, in fear for his personal safety as well as other officers in the area, fired his duty rifle one time, striking Dunford in the head. Dunford immediately dropped to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

After the shooting, police confirmed that there was no hostage inside Dunford’s residence. They also determined Dunford was armed with a loaded flare gun at the time of the incident. The investigators found what appeared to be several suicide notes written by Dunford as well as a handgun inside the residence.          

According to the Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, Dunford died from the injuries caused by the gunshot wound to his head inflicted by Officer Kenyon. It was also determined that Dunford’s blood alcohol was .29 at the time of his death, more than three times the legal limit. 

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