How the inquest unfolded to examine Issaquah police officers’ actions
May 29, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
The decision from a King County-appointed inquest jury May 23 ended the long investigation set in motion after Ronald W. Ficker abandoned a Kia sedan on a busy downtown Issaquah street.
The inquest process is a fact-finding hearing conducted to determine the circumstances in any officer-involved shooting in the county.
Inquest jurors answer a series of questions, called interrogatories, to determine the facts in the case. Jurors answered 22 interrogatories related to the officers’ actions and Ficker’s death.
The inquest jury does not, however, determine whether a person or agency is civilly or criminally liable for an incident.
“This is not a trial,” King County District Court Judge David Steiner said from the bench as the inquest opened May 21. “The purpose of this inquest is to provide a public airing of the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Ronald William Ficker.”
The jury consisted of three men and three women, including a woman from Issaquah. The officers received handshakes and congratulatory messages from jurors after the inquest concluded.
Throughout the hearing, the involved officers sat stoically on a bench as hard as a church pew in the front row of Courtroom W-842 as witnesses described the lead-up to the shootout and the police response to the Clark Elementary School campus.
No attorney for the Ficker family or family members attended the inquest. The family does not plan to pursue a civil lawsuit against the Issaquah Police Department, court documents state.
In the inquest, the King County Prosecutor’s Office acted as a neutral party and facilitated the process, and separate attorneys represented the city and the involved officers. Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Petersen led the witnesses throughout the inquest.
Steiner and Petersen had not participated in a police inquest before the Issaquah hearing.
No inquest conducted in the county has led to the filing of criminal charges against a police officer involved in a deadly shooting.