Man Killed By Trooper Was Drunk, Jurors Told
A Kent motorist was intoxicated when he was shot and killed by state Trooper Lane Jackstadt after a chase on Interstate 90 last August, an inquest jury was told.
Dr. Donald Reay, King County medical examiner, testified yesterday that an autopsy showed Steven Smith had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.11, just over the legal limit for intoxication. Smith died Aug. 29 at Harborview Medical Center after Jackstadt shot him in the chest during a struggle at Rainier Avenue South and South Charles Street.
No drugs were found in Smith's system, Reay said. But later testimony showed that Smith had an earlier conviction for possession of marijuana and that drug paraphernalia was found in his car after the shooting.
Jurors were to begin deliberating today whether Jackstadt, 30, had "reasonable grounds" to believe he was in great personal danger when he opened fire.
The Seattle District Court jurors yesterday were given a highly varied portrait of Smith, a native of England, seen by friends generally as a laid-back, easy-going person. But Smith had trouble keeping a job in delivery work because of aggressive driving habits and tardiness and had been in trouble in the Navy for apparent resentment of authority.
Dean Bryant, who said he and Smith were "very good friends," said Smith telephoned him about four hours before the shooting to say he had lost his job after complaints from callers about his driving. Bryant described Smith's mood as "kind of upset" and depressed. The two had planned to meet later in the evening, Bryant said.
Smith had another job as a hotel bus boy, Bryant said, and another witness had said Smith was "extremely industrious," that he often held down several jobs.
James Cline, Jackstadt's attorney, asked Bryant what he knew about Smith's general discharge - less than honorable - from the Navy. Bryant said Smith had never told him anything about having trouble "getting along with authority figures."
"Did he ever indicate he was in danger of losing his license?" Cline asked. "No, he did not," Bryant said.
Obi Manteufel, a concert pianist and businessman, said Smith regarded him as "sort of a father figure." Smith "loved beer" and was "generous to a fault," Manteufel said, while stressing he had never observed Smith in confrontational situations with others.
Smith was slightly impaired with a learning disability and "tried to compensate by driving quickly," Manteufel said.
Seattle Police Detective John Nordlund said he found two beer cans - one full and one empty - and a narcotics smoking pipe with residue of a derivative of marijuana in Smith's car.
Jurors were not told that Jackstadt, who is assigned out of the State Patrol's Bellevue office, and another trooper were involved in another serious incident following a traffic stop in Kenmore last January.
The motorist in that incident was acquitted of assault charges for alleged attacks upon the officers, but pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated.
Jeff Needle, a Smith family attorney who had only a limited role in the inquest case, sought to have the information presented to the jury to show a possible pattern of behavior by Jackstadt.
But Judge Mark Chow ruled it was up to Deputy Prosecutor Patricia Eakes to choose the evidence she wanted at the inquiry. Eakes said her office concluded that the assault case was not admissible under state evidence rules.
Jackstadt testified earlier that he thought Smith was reaching for a weapon when he fired. Smith was unarmed.
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