In October 2012 members of the Sumner Police Department and the Pierce County Metro SWAT Team converged on 47-year-old Patrick Don Dunford's home. Dunford had dialed 911 moments earlier, saying he was suicidal and had a hostage. When he was contacted by phone by police, authorities say Dunford again said he had a hostage and also told authorities he was armed with a handgun.
According to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office - which just completed an investigation into Dunford's death - once his home was surrounded by police and SWAT Team members, Dunford exited the residence and pointed "what appeared to be an orange painted handgun" at Pierce County Metro SWAT Team member Zack Kenyon. Kenyon responded by firing a single shot from his rifle at Dunford's head, which killed him at the scene. As it turns out Dunford was actually carrying a loaded flare gun.
Today, after the conclusion of independent investigations by the Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office and the Sumner Police Department to go along with its own, the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office found the use of deadly force to be justified. Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist called the situation, "a sad case of suicide-by-cop."
"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 at the officers," Lindquist said in a press release announcing the ruling.
According to the Pierce County Prosecutor's Office, after the shooting police determined that there was no hostage inside Dunford's residence and - as Lindquist's quote alludes to - found "what appeared to be several suicide notes," that Dunford had written. Police also found a handgun inside the residence.
According to the Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, Dunford's blood alcohol was .29 at the time of his death.