Militant Journalism

In Sedro-Woolley, Wash., community members demand justice for David Babcock

On March 12, about 30 friends, family and community members gathered at the Sedro-Woolley City Hall to demand justice for David Babcock, who was killed by Sedro-Woolley police on Feb. 16. The 51-year old father and grandfather was shot in the back of the head while driving his wife’s car.

David Babcock. Photo from GoFundMe for family.

A key demand of the demonstrators was for police accountability and transparency. Per Washington state law, the incident is being investigated by a different law enforcement team. However, that team appears to be dragging its feet. It took several weeks for the family to be shown the police video footage of the incident, which has not been released to the general public. Local activist and protest organizer Matt Uyeno has filed a public information request.

David Babcock’s youngest daughter Elizabeth Marie watched the video footage at the police station. She told Liberation News that her father was four feet away from the shooter when the fatal shot was fired. Babcock was driving his wife Regina’s new car. Elizabeth said she had been told by an investigating detective that David had been followed by an undercover police car all the way from Mount Vernon, but this was not a chase as the undercover officer’s lights were not on. Police claim that they suspected the car was stolen.

Elizabeth Marie Babcock and Regina Babcock, David Babcock’s daughter and widow. Liberation photo

When he reached Sedro-Woolley, Elizabeth shared that the video showed the SWPD officers lay down spike strips. As her father approached, he slammed on his brakes and drove around the strips. One of the officers can be heard telling others to get out of the way. The shooter stepped right, pulled out his gun, then stepped left, said, “Sedro-Woolley police,” and opened fire, hitting David Babcock in the back of the head, severing his spinal cord. Unable to drive the vehicle, though still conscious for at least 15 minutes after being shot, David’s car hit the parked police vehicle. At this point, Elizabeth stated, another cop said, “That’s David Babcock.”

Remembering David Babcock

Babcock family friends made up the majority of the crowd at the demonstration.

Elizabeth’s partner and co-parent Skyler said, “If a civilian had done something like that [what police had done to David] there would be consequences. The family needs answers.”

David Babcock’s lifelong friend Thor Andrews Sr. said, “We knew each other since we were in diapers. We grew up together. Knowing him, he was not a perfect man but he was a good family man and a good friend. One thing is certain, he did not deserve to die. Different actions could have prevented us from being here today. He was killed for no reason. If this were any other city, we might have another story. I hope what you are doing will bring closure to his daughter, wife, father and all who knew him. It’s a sad day.”

Andrews was referring to the notoriously racist and reactionary city government and police department in Sedro-Woolley, a small, rural town in Skagit County, Washington.

Another good friend of David Babcock, Dale Henry, also spoke. “I met David three years ago. He’s had his problems but he was trying to get his life together. I saw him change into a guy who was very nice, would give you the shirt off his back. It seems like his past, they [the police] wouldn’t let it go. I think it was a kind of profiling. There was no reason to do what they did. There needs to be something done so this won’t happen again; they can’t get away with this.”

When Henry finished speaking, local activist Rebecca Peck shouted out, “Police are not judge and jury!”

Elizabeth Babcock added, “I just want the person who did this to go to jail.”

Protesters stood in front of city hall as people shared, then moved a few blocks away to a busier intersection to stand vigil with signs. Many people honked and waved in solidarity. Organizers plan to continue to demand justice. The next action will be April 2, starting at 11 a.m. at the Skagit County Courthouse in Mt. Vernon.

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