Seattle Officer to Be Punished for Taking Down Ax-Wielding Robbery Suspect

A mentally unstable man, later identified as James Ray Smith, walks into REI’s flagship store adjacent Interstate-5 in downtown Seattle. He removes an ice ax typically used by mountain climbers to penetrate deep into the snow as they ascent steep slopes.

As the man tries to leave REI without paying for the item, he threatens a store security employee with the ax and then leaves the store. Smith had just turned a probable misdemeanor shoplift into a felony armed robbery. Security calls the police. Seattle Police Department (SPD) cops arrive and confront the man outside the store. They demand he put down the ice ax. Instead, he refuses to comply, threatens officers with the ax, then turns and walks away.