TACOMA, WA – Independent and concurrent investigations by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, Cooperative Cities Crime Response Unit, and Lakewood Police Department regarding the shooting death of Daniel Isaac Covarrubias, 37, have been completed. Covarrubias died from gunshot wounds inflicted by Lakewood Police Officers David Butts and Ryan Hamilton.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the death was justifiable homicide under state law.
On April 21, 2015, Officers Butts and Hamilton responded to a suspicious person call at Pinnacle Lumber Company in Lakewood. They located Covarrubias, who matched the description, on top of a stack of lumber that was 25 feet in the air. The officers began talking to Covarrubias and told him that a ladder was on its way so he could safely climb down. He did not respond.
Moments later, Covarrubias reached into his pocket and pulled out a dark object. Both officers drew their handguns and ordered Covarrubias to put his hands up. Covarrubias did not respond to the officers and did not put his hands up. Using both hands, he pointed the dark object down at the officers as if it were a handgun. Fearing for their safety, both officers fired their handguns at Covarrubias, striking him several times. Covarrubias later died at the hospital from his wounds.
Investigators determined that the object Covarrubias was pointing at the officers was a black cell phone. Multiple witnesses told investigators that it appeared Covarrubias had a gun because of the way he was gripping the phone and pointing it at the officers.
“The officers’ actions were in response to a perceived deadly threat,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “The loss of life here is regrettable and apparently due to a combination of circumstances, mental health issues and drugs, including methamphetamine.”
Detectives learned that on the previous day, Covarrubias had made several 911 calls to report shots fired at his residence and that his family was missing. He later called 911, cancelled the report and said that “he was tripping.” When the 911 center called back and spoke to Covarrubias’ father, he said his son was “having some delusions.”
The morning of the shooting, Covarrubias went to St. Clair Hospital in Lakewood and told the staff he had cameras in his eyes and would like them taken out. During a consult with a social worker at the hospital, he said he had used meth, had been awake for three days and had not eaten. Covarrubias voluntarily left the hospital on foot an hour before the shooting.
According to Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, Covarrubias died from a gunshot wound to his head. Dr. Clark also determined Covarrubias had benzodiazepines and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.
Communications and Public Information Coordinator
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office