The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed second-degree felony murder charges on Wednesday (July 25) against a 16-year-old driver of a pickup truck involved in the death of Kent police officer Diego Moreno on Sunday, July 22, 2018.
The State alleges that the occupants of the truck illegally possessed several guns and fired off numerous rounds in a parking lot and then fled the scene, driving recklessly and attempting to elude the police. Officer Moreno died after he was struck by a patrol vehicle while deploying spike strips to slow the truck.
The two juvenile passengers are both charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and one is also charged for possession of controlled substances. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is working closely with the Valley Investigation Team on this matter.
“There is no place for crime or violence in Kent. As mayor, I am committed to working with the Prosecutor’s Office to hold these suspects accountable for the death and injuries of our officers,” said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.
“Charging these suspects is an important first step to helping Officer Moreno’s family, the Kent Police Department and the entire community as we work toward healing,” said Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla.
A candlelight vigil for Officer Moreno and his family was held Wednesday at Kent Town Square Plaza.
About the charges
After a first appearance hearing on Monday in King County Juvenile Court, all three teens were held in detention at the King County Youth Services Center. The 16-year old defendant is charged with second-degree felony murder. Under Washington law, if a juvenile is 16 or 17-years old and is charged with murder in the second degree, charges are to be filed into adult criminal court instead of juvenile court.
The crime of felony murder occurs when a defendant commits a felony and during the course of that felony, or in flight from it, causes the death of another person. Under Washington law, a defendant is deemed to have caused the death of the victim if the death would not have happened but for the defendant’s actions in committing the felony.
In this case, the defendant was committing a dangerous felony by attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle. This felony created a serious and grave risk to the public and to police. As a direct result of the defendant’s actions, Officer Moreno was killed.