A Pierce County Sheriff’s deputy involved in a deadly shooting in March used his weapon legally, according to Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist.

Independent investigations by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office regarding the shooting death of William Langfitt, IV, were completed last week.

Pierce County Medical Examiner, Thomas Clark, determined that Langfitt, 28, died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to a county press release. Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Colby Edwards fired the shots. 

Lindquist reviewed the investigations and concluded Deputy Edwards acted lawfully and determined this was a justifiable homicide as defined by RCW 9A.16.030.   

“Mr. Langfitt was clearly in need of mental health treatment,” Lindquist stated in the press release. “This justified shooting highlights the need to provide mental health services before the issues and conduct escalate.”

On the night of March 16, 2018, Pierce County deputies were called to the area of 252nd St. E. and Mountain Highway in Pierce County, regarding a person, later identified as William Langfitt, reportedly having a “mental breakdown.” The 911 caller, Naomi Powers, said Langfitt had been armed with a knife but she had taken it away from him, according to the press release.

While deputies were in route, the 911 operators could hear Powers screaming and saying, “let go of me,” and “stop it”. This information was relayed to the responding deputies. Powers then told the 911 operators that Langfitt was in the roadway trying to jump into passing vehicles, the press release stated.

Deputy Edwards arrived in the area and saw Langfitt at the driver’s side of a white SUV just west of Mountain Highway on 252nd. Langfitt was pounding on the driver’s side window of the SUV. Deputy Edwards began turning onto 252nd from Mountain Highway when Langfitt immediately charged towards Deputy Edward’s marked patrol vehicle which had its emergency lights activated. 

Edwards exited his vehicle in the middle of the intersection and began giving Langfitt verbal commands to stop his aggressive actions. Langfitt continued to charge at Edwards with an unknown object in his right hand. Langfitt had what Edwards described as a “1000-yard stare” in his eyes. 

Edwards was forced to back away from his driver’s door and draw his firearm as he continued to back pedal toward the rear of his vehicle for safety and distance due to Langfitt’s behavior directed at Edwards, according to the press release.

As Langfitt was passing the open driver’s door of the deputy’s patrol vehicle, Langfitt suddenly turned and entered the still running vehicle.

“Edwards immediately feared that he and the community would be in extreme danger if Langfitt took control of the vehicle or gained access to Edwards’ loaded patrol rifle inside the vehicle,” the press release stated. “Deputy Edwards made the decision to stop Langfitt’s actions and fired several rounds into the vehicle at Langfitt, killing him.”

Follow up investigation revealed that Langfitt had recently begun experiencing mental health issues. He was acting paranoid, was hallucinating and having fits of extreme rage, according to the press release.

For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, james.lynch@piercecountywa.gov.