Warrant sheds light on minutes leading up to Kevin Peterson Jr.’s death

By Troy Brynelson (OPB)
Nov. 6, 2020 10:35 p.m. Updated: Nov. 7, 2020 12:20 a.m.

A confidential informant tipped off drug investigators.

A transaction of 50 Xanax pills at the Quality Inn in Hazel Dell set off a chain of events that ultimately led Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies to shoot and kill Kevin Peterson Jr., according to newly filed court records.

Peterson allegedly arrived at the hotel less than an hour before his death to sell the pills to a confidential informant, who had already tipped off a regional drug task force, the document states.


The document is a 13-page warrant — made public Friday — to search a dark blue 2012 Mercedes-Benz registered to Peterson that is currently in custody.

The search warrant, which doesn’t identify the officers who shot Peterson, offers some of the first new information about Peterson’s death more than a week after he was killed.

Peterson, 21, died shortly before 6 p.m. after three Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies shot him, according to investigators. His death immediately sparked protests in Vancouver against police brutality, echoing similar protests across the nation this year.

Protesters shout at law enforcement in Hazel Dell, Wash., early Oct. 30, 2020, after Clark County sheriff's deputies shot and killed Kevin Peterson Jr.

Protesters shout at law enforcement in Hazel Dell, Wash., early Oct. 30, 2020, after Clark County sheriff's deputies shot and killed Kevin Peterson Jr.

Troy Brynelson / OPB

Since Peterson’s death, investigators have released hardly any new information. The investigation has also changed hands, after independent investigators in Clark and Skamania counties decided to hand it over to a separate group in Cowlitz County.

On Friday, a spokesman for the new investigators said they did not plan to release any additional details until early next week.

According to the warrant, Peterson arrived at the hotel already under investigation by the drug task force. Once he arrived around 5:50 p.m., the warrant said, task force members blocked his car. He then fled on foot.


During the chase, according to the warrant, police said he carried a 40-caliber handgun. Peterson allegedly dropped the firearm on the ground, stepped, turned around and picked it up again before running away.

Heading southwest out of the parking lot, he entered the parking lot of a former U.S. Bank branch, the warrant said. It was there he encountered more police, the warrant said.

“Peterson was met by law enforcement as he entered the U.S. Bank parking lot,” it reads.

The warrant does not say explicitly if Peterson fired at police. Instead, it signals that “police radio traffic … stated that Mr. Peterson had fired two rounds.” The officers also say a camera at the U.S. Bank building showed Peterson “pointing what appeared to be a firearm in the direction of police.”

The warrant also cites a witness who “heard two gunshots that sounded different, before a volley of shots which sounded the same.” According to the warrant, the handgun, a Glock model 23, had two fewer bullets than a full magazine.

Whether or not Peterson fired or pointed a gun has been in contention since the shooting. Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins initially reported Peterson had fired the weapon, but independent investigators did not confirm that information in the days after the killing.

Police also reportedly found a capped needle and “bindles of possible narcotics” on the path Peterson ran.

Peterson’s family members declined to comment on the allegations in the warrant, citing advice from their attorneys.

After Peterson’s death, police took the Mercedes-Benz to a public works building owned by the city of Battle Ground. A Battle Ground Police Department detective wrote the warrant as part of the independent investigation.

The warrant, signed by Judge Kelli Osler on Tuesday, allowed police to search the car for more evidence. It asked to search the car for methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, as well as drug paraphernalia, weapons and other evidence of drug-related crimes.

The search, according to the records, found two baggies and a container containing a grand total of fewer than 40 pills.