In his final phone call to the mother of his child, Kevin Peterson Jr. reportedly apologized to her and said, as he ran from an undercover drug bust near Vancouver, Washington, that he worried he was going to jail for the rest of his life.
“I remember him saying, ‘I got set up’ ‘I’m going to jail for the rest of my life’ ‘I’m sorry,’” Olivia Selto said in an official statement on Friday, released by a private investigator working with the family’s attorneys. “I quickly realized by the tone in Kevin’s voice and the look in his eyes that this was serious.”
Moments later, Peterson would be dead after three officers with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office shot at him.
Selto, a resident of Battle Ground, Washington, said Peterson told her he was being shot at. She said he pointed his phone’s camera at officers who encountered him in a shuttered bank parking lot. She recalled hearing gunshots and started recording the call.
“Within seconds, I saw Kevin’s face and a chain-link fence behind him,” Selto said. “It appeared he was laying on his back but his shoulders and head were off the ground as if he was falling backwards.”
Peterson, 21, made the call to Selto as he ran from his car at the start of the sting on Oct. 29. Selto’s recording of the call is one piece of evidence so far unreleased. Records show Selto has not provided the footage to investigators. Likewise, Selto did not produce the footage Friday in conjunction with her statement.
But her statement comes as hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation have been made public. Among other things, the records show investigators have worked to obtain Selto’s footage by contacting the FBI, as well as requesting search warrants for Apple’s cloud storage.
“If the video is saved on either Selto or Peterson’s account, it could show what was said and done before the shooting occurred,” wrote Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office Det. Riley McNeal in the warrant. “Additionally, the video could show deputies and officers on scene rendering aid to Peterson after the shooting occurred.”
Details of the haywire drug bust have mostly been sourced from distant surveillance footage and officers’ accounts. Statements from some witnesses who passed by the chaotic scene that day have also been made public.
Over the last three weeks, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office has published more than 1,000 pages of records related to the case. That includes investigators’ notes, statements from involved officers, crime scene photos and footage from nearby business’ security cameras.
Most of the footage was already released by investigators before Thanksgiving in an 11-minute presentation posted online. More materials published Friday included unedited footage but did not reveal much new information.
Peterson’s death came in a chain of events that took less than three minutes, according to the radio traffic obtained by OPB, which officials say is unedited.
After communicating with a confidential informant over Snapchat, Peterson arrived at the Quality Inn in Hazel Dell a little after 5:30 p.m. Drug task force officers awaited to bust him for attempting to deliver a controlled substance. After officers drove in and blocked his vehicle, Peterson fled on foot, reportedly carrying a .40 caliber handgun.
Released footage from the Quality Inn to date does not show the beginnings of the sting. The footage only begins as Peterson has already fled his vehicle.
While Peterson traveled around the hotel’s perimeter to elude police, Det. Robert Anderson hopped back into his SUV and headed south to intercept. He eventually pulled into the parking lot of a shuttered U.S. Bank.
Trailing Anderson was Deputy Jon Feller, who, records show, dispatched to the scene when the drug task force radioed that an armed man had fled the bust. Meanwhile, Det. Jeremy Brown was already stationed in the bank’s parking lot, records show. Brown told investigators he saw Anderson and Feller “bombing into the parking lot.”
Footage shows Peterson, phone in hand, heading south across the bank parking lot as they arrived. Surveillance footage shows he slowed as the vehicles approached. Officers noted he had a phone in his hand. Brown told investigators Peterson appeared to be “livestreaming.”
The three told investigators that, as they approached, Peterson pulled the handgun out of his sweatshirt pocket. They told investigators Peterson ignored commands to drop the gun. Footage shows Peterson eventually turned north and running away from officers.
Anderson, a 13-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, fired first. He told investigators he was worried Peterson would run into more officers to the north.
“At that point, I kinda just drew the line in the sand,” Anderson said. “I said, ‘I’ve given suspect enough commands. If he takes another step, I’m gonna shoot him.’”
Neither Brown nor Feller knew exactly who shot at first, investigators noted, but they soon fired, too. Footage shows Peterson running north without turning while being fired upon. Brown told investigators he was caught off-guard.
“I’m still not seeing why I should be shooting,” he said. “I don’t think I ever looked at Anderson or Feller.”
Peterson eventually fell to the ground, then sat back up. Footage from the bank shows him extending an arm forward with an object in his hand. Officers said Peterson aimed a gun at them. Brown said he believed he was about to be shot, saying Peterson “blatantly, quickly points the gun at me.” The officers shot again.
In all, the three fired 34 shots at Peterson. Four bullets struck Peterson, hitting his arm, shoulder and chest.
The radio traffic obtained by OPB shows about three minutes and six seconds passes from the time deputies note Peterson’s arrival at the Quality Inn to the second volley of shots. When asked by OPB if the audio had been truncated at all, an official with the Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency said no.
“The audio file provided was the same exact file provided to the investigating team,” said Megan Whitman, of CRESA. “It was not edited or changed at all.”
After the second volley of gunshots, Selto said, her call stayed connected for several minutes. She said she heard officers approach, then screamed when she heard one officer say Peterson wasn’t breathing.
When the camera pointed upwards, she saw officers’ faces look back. She said she heard an officer whisper: “It’s recording.”
“I heard another officer say ‘We should turn it off,’” Selto said. “The call then disconnected.”