Inquest jury hears case of 2019 Renton police shooting

Jurors will determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Mantry Norris.

A jury will determine whether the Renton Police Department contributed to the death of a 20-year-old man in a 2019 officer-involved shooting.

On June 15, 2019, a Renton police officer shot Mantry Norris, 20, multiple times after Norris allegedly attacked an individual with a knife at a Renton bar and grill. Norris died at the scene.

An inquest hearing scheduled to run on weekdays from April 15 through April 23 will examine Norris’s death.

Jurors will determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Mantry Norris.

“It will be one of your duties in this inquest to determine if any member of law enforcement contributed to Mantry Norris’s death,” Judge Marcine Anderson, inquest administrator, told jurors.

The jury of the inquest investigation will not make determinations of guilt or decide whether any party owes civil damages as in a criminal or civil trial.

After jury members have finished hearing testimony from a list of 11 witnesses and viewing evidence, they will be asked to deliberate together to answer a series of factual questions called interrogatories.

Anderson provided a “general summary of the expected testimony” prior to the testimonies of witnesses.

“A 911 call was made claiming there was suspicious activity outside of the Cheers Bar & Grill in Renton, Washington. Officers Eric Gordon and Christine Paget responded to the 911 call. When Officer Gordon arrived, he saw Mr. Norris outside, holding a knife. Officer Gordon then saw Mr. Norris enter the Cheers Bar & Grill. Officer Gordon followed Mr. Norris into the Cheers Bar & Grill and saw Mr. Norris strike a bar patron with the knife. Officer Gordon fired his weapon at Mr. Norris, Mr. Norris sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene,” Judge Anderson read to the jury.

The factual scope of the inquest hearing will include the events of the incident prior to and after the shooting of Norris and his death, and the autopsy results, including toxicology results. The inquest will examine the relevance of Renton Police Department policy, including on use of force, biased-based policing, handcuffing and restraints, and more.

Anderson excluded toxicology testimony regarding methamphetamine and amphetamine as a result of prior rulings by other courts regarding the contamination of the Washington State Patrol Toxicology lab during the timeframe of Norris’s death. Anderson admitted toxicology testimony on Norris’s active THC levels as the “reported amount of active THC is above the defined legal limit to consider a person impaired.”

Gordon testified on the first and second days of the inquest hearing.

In his testimony to jurors, Gordon said that, before Norris walked into the bar, Norris said “something to the effect of, ‘I’m gonna go into the bar and kill somebody.’”

Norris’s family provided the jury with a photograph of Norris and an introductory statement prior to the testimonies of witnesses:

“Mantry Norris, Jr. died at the young age of 20-years-old, born and raised in Washington State, Mantry grew up in Bellevue, and eventually made Renton his home, graduating from Renton High School merely two years before his death. Mantry’s magnetic personality attracted those that were cast aside for being different. He took great efforts in making certain that everyone around him knew their value in life. … He was smart, he was inquisitive, and kind. He also struggled with mental illness, and though it was only a sliver of who he was, it was his burden. … He’s greatly missed daily by all who had the privilege of knowing him,” Anderson read to the jury.

Attorney Teri Rogers Kemp represents the family of Mantry Norris.

Attorneys Jeremy Culumber and Anthony Marinella represent the involved officer, Gordon, and the Renton Police Department.