On the night of Aug. 28, while Antwan Horton lay bleeding from a gunshot wound at the back of his head, a resident or passer-by of Rainier Valley's Dakota Place apartments started performing manual resuscitation on the 19-year-old.
But when the police arrived seven or eight minutes after the shooting, says Rick Willis, pastor of Seattle's Truevine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church and a resident of the Dakota, the first thing an officer did was tell the Good Samaritan to stop giving CPR and leave the area, which police then cordoned off.
Willis says he was out on the street that night and saw this himself. He and another Dakota resident, Annette Jeffrey, say that they attended a meeting at the building held with police shortly after the shooting and that residents asked why police had stopped the CPR, but got no answer.
The Seattle Police Department says the CPR never happened and the question never came up. But members of a newly formed group of Black Christian clergy disagree on both counts -- one reason they put Antwan Horton's death front and center in a press conference they held Sept. 12 calling on the city to address gang violence.
The Rev. Rick Willis is a member of that group along with Dakota resident Annette Jeffrey's brother, the Rev. Robert Jeffrey Sr. of New Hope Baptist Church. The press conference started with a statement by the Rev. Kenneth Ransfer Sr., of the Greater Mount Baker Baptist Church, that Antwan Horton had not been allowed medical attention because law enforcement needed to secure the area to look for the shooter.
"We believe there must be a better way to give medical attention to a citizen who is wounded, a human being who is wounded, and at the same time make sure that police officers are safe," Ransfer said Sept. 12. "If the shooting at the Dakota was in another community, would [the victim] be denied medical attention?"
Managers at Dakota Place and Courtland Place, two low-income high-rises that are part of the new Rainier Court development on Rainier Ave. S., dismiss the CPR story. But police officials have neither confirmed nor denied the account.
"I don't know whether there would have been a life-saving effort done, since the person was shot in the head," says Assistant Police Chief Harry Bailey.
"That's crazy," Willis responds. "The police officers came and interviewed people -- at least seven people saw [the person] giving CPR and saw them stop it and cordon off the area." Despite the nature of the wound, paramedics did respond and work on Horton, who died at Harborview Medical Center 17 hours later. But police spokesman Mark Jamieson says police must secure an area before the Fire Department will enter it.
"Our first priority is to make sure the area is secure and safe," Jamieson says. "If it's not safe, we wouldn't have a civilian out there rendering aid."
After the shooting, he says Lt. James Koutsky of the South Precinct held a meeting at the Dakota that Willis and Jeffrey say they attended with about 30 other residents. Jamieson says no one raised the issue at the meeting of why police might stop a bystander from giving CPR, but Jeffrey says residents most certainly did ask that question -- and Koutsky had no answer.
"He didn't know what they could or could not do," Jeffrey says. "If he could have answered those questions, people wouldn't have been so upset."