Matthew James Netter was dangerously high on methamphetamine and pulled a loaded pistol on a Poulsbo police officer when he was shot and killed during a July traffic stop.
Poulsbo officer Darrel Moore shot Netter, 23, of Bremerton, eight times at point blank range, until Netter stopped moving, according to a report issued Friday by Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney Russell Hauge. Hauge found that Moore was “absolutely justified” in his use of force during the stop near Silverdale’s Whaling Days festival July 23.
The report relied on audio and video evidence from Moore’s patrol car camera, along with the statement of a “ride along” observer who had exited Moore’s vehicle during the traffic stop near the Whaling Days festival. Hauge concluded that Moore conducted himself politely and professionally and used force only when Netter became uncooperative and hostile.
In an interview following the release of the report, Hauge said reports do not indicate Netter was trying to “commit suicide by cop.” The factor that appeared to have led to the escalation in the routine traffic stop was Netter’s level of intoxication.
“That’s the only explanation I can see, there was nothing about the officer’s behavior that was threatening,” Hauge said.
No drugs were found in Netter’s car, Hauge said.
Moore has worked for Poulsbo police for five years and remains on administrative leave, said Poulsbo Deputy Chief Shawn Delaney. Delaney said the department will complete its own investigation before Moore can return to work.
Friends at a memorial for Netter, a father of two young boys, said he had struggled with alcohol addiction and believed him to be nine days sober at the time of his death. Netter was a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing a firearm, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
Friends and family members of Netter could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Hauge wrote the two volleys of nine bullets fired by Moore — eight hit — is “consistent with the training received by all Washington law enforcement officers.”
The confrontation started when Moore observed Netter swerve in his lane of travel. During the stop, dispatchers informed Moore that Netter was a safety risk. Netter overheard the exchange and became increasingly resistant and agitated, Hauge’s report said.
Moore did a quick search of weapons on Netter, who jumped back into his car, reached across the passenger seat, took hold of the pistol and pointed it Moore.
Moore followed, Hauge’s report said, and the two struggled, with Moore yelling “Gun!”
When investigators later removed the pistol from Netter’s car, it was found to be a .40-caliber H & K semi-automatic pistol. A bullet was found loaded in the chamber and the safety was turned off.
Toxicology reports found a level of methamphetamine in Netter’s system exceeding what federal guidelines consider a toxic dose, Hauge’s report said.
At the end of the struggle, Moore jumped back out of the car and opened fire on Netter. The entire encounter lasted about five minutes. Netter died from his wounds on the way to Harrison Medical Center as no helicopter was available to fly him to Seattle.
“Officer Moore’s use of deadly force was more than justified — it was the only response possible,” Hauge’s report concluded.
North Kitsap Herald reporter Jennifer Morris contributed to this report.