The firearm 21-year-old Kevin Peterson Jr. carried the night police killed him was originally a duty weapon used by law enforcement, according to records released by prosecutors in Clark County, Washington.
Peterson, who is Black, was shot by law enforcement officers in Vancouver on Oct. 29 during a drug sting operation. Police shot at Peterson 34 times, hitting him four times. There’s no evidence Peterson fired his gun.
Investigative documents recently released by prosecutors in Clark County show the gun Peterson had was originally sent from Glock, the manufacturer, to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland on Sept. 1, 2004.
At the time of the shooting, however, the Glock was registered to Peterson’s cousin, a civilian, who purchased the weapon from a local firearms dealer this year.
After Peterson was killed, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives performed an “urgent trace” on the weapon. The details of the Glock’s history were sent from an ATF specialist to one of the investigators.
A spokesperson for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said when deputies get new duty weapons, the old firearms are sold to local gun dealers who can resell the firearms to the public. The measure is designed to save costs for the sheriff’s office.
How law enforcement handles weapons in its possession has drawn scrutiny before.
A 2018 investigation by the Associated Press found law enforcement in Washington state sold some 6,000 confiscated firearms between 2010 and 2017. More than a dozen of those weapons later ended up becoming evidence in new criminal investigations. The AP investigation did not investigate sales of retired duty firearms.