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Spokane to move forward with $250K settlement over 2022 officer-related death

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(The Center Square) – Spokane’s City Council voted 4-3 on Monday, approving a $250,000 settlement with one family after they moved to sue for the police department’s role in the death of their loved one.

The incident dates back to 2022, when officers responded to a call and found Peterson Kamo allegedly holding a knife to his 2-year-old nephew. The situation ultimately led to officers shooting him six times, four of which were on the left side of his back, with two in his mid-region, according to The Spokesman-Review.

Kamo’s family then filed a tort claim asking for $23 million in damages that same year. They alleged that the officers had not taken the necessary steps to de-escalate before taking their family member’s life.

Some residents urged the city council not to approve the settlement during Monday’s meeting; while acknowledging that the incident was a tragedy, they say it sends the wrong message, and that the prosecutor never charged the officers with anything related to Kamo’s death.

“Settling this case fails to honor the responding officers’ courage and heroism,” said Councilmember Michael Cathcart, “and is likely to cause hesitation and second-guessing in the future by officers, which could cost lives.”

Earlier this year, an organization called Mapping Police Violence ranked SPD as having one of the highest rates of officer-related deaths per population nationwide. There have been five police shootings since January alone, not including statistics from the county or other local agencies.

Councilmember Jonathan Bingle echoed Cathcart’s statements that the officers’ quick and decisive actions saved the toddler’s life that day. He understands a settlement would cost the city far less than a legal battle in court, but said the city needs to have SPD’s back when doing right by the community.

He recognized the Kamo family’s grim reality, being that their loved one is gone; however, Bingle said that trauma could have extended to the death of family members had police not interfered.

“The City of Spokane Police Department, like every human-run organization, doesn’t always do the right thing,” Bingle said. “There are times when we need to make corrections, and there are times when we need to make accommodations. Tonight is the night we should be commending officers for saving a child’s life.”

Councilmember Lili Navarrete joined Cathcart and Bingle in dissent, though she opted not to speak on the matter during Monday’s council meeting.

Council President Betsy Wilkerson, who voted in favor of the settlement, dismissed any claims that the measure is an admission of guilt. She said the resolution spares the Kamo family the trauma associated with a trial, which it expressed interest in avoiding.

“This is something that the two sides came to an agreement on and is brought forth to council,” Wilkerson said. “Police have been briefed on this and talked to their leadership, and they understand why we’re going in this direction.”