Old 10-14-2004, 01:43 PM
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Police Kill Lottery Winner

Family Members Don't Believe Police Version Of Lottery Winner's Shooting

Rick Camat hit the jackpot four years ago.

One of 13 Los Angeles Starbucks employees who split an $87 million California lottery win, he used his share to buy a home for his mother and cars for his siblings. He recently bought a house for himself in Federal Way, where he moved about six months ago.

The 32-year-old's life ended abruptly early Sunday. Seattle police said that Rick Camat fired a gun in a crowded parking lot near Qwest Field and did not respond to officers' orders to drop the weapon.

But his brother, who was club-hopping with him and witnessed the shooting, said Rick Camat tried to break up a fight by firing a gun into the air, and officers did not warn him before shooting.

Family members in California and Washington grappled yesterday with the death of the man they said did not have a criminal history.

"It's just something I did not believe in my heart," Camat's cousin Rechelle Asperin said of the police version of the shooting. "He's not violent; he does not have a violent nature. He never broke temper in front of me and my family. I've been out with him a couple of times going to the clubs here in L.A., and he's always been happy while we were out and never started any altercations with anyone. All he did was just hang out, and he was just happy."

Brian Camat, Rick's brother, said that the night of the fatal shooting, the pair had spent time at a club in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood, then drove to Sodo, wanting to go to a club called Tiki Bob's. They parked near Qwest Field but didn't go into the club because it was too late and patrons were already leaving.

Brian Camat said they noticed a fight in front of them and tried to intercede when they were attacked from behind.

They chased someone who ran off, Brian Camat said, and Rick grabbed a gun and shot it in the air to try to stop the mayhem.

"Then police arrived and shot Rick", Brian Camat said.

"I sat there and watched my brother helpless on the ground," he said, speaking from Rick's Federal Way home.

He said there was no warning from police, just "bam, bam, bam."

Seattle police have said officers saw Rick Camat fire a 9mm semi-automatic handgun toward the west of the parking lot. They confronted him, drew their weapons and repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun and get on the ground.

Rick Camat turned the gun toward the officers, and Officer Nicholus Bauer fired shots from less than a car-length away, apparently hitting him more than one time, police said.

Bauer, 42, has worked for the Police Department for 12 years and has not been in any prior officer-involved shootings. He has been placed on administrative assignment pending findings by the Firearms Review Board.

The King County Prosecutor's Office also will conduct an inquest.

Armenio Camat, the brothers' uncle, said the family wanted to make sure police conducted a thorough internal investigation.

"We don't think it was justified," Armenio Camat said, gathered with family in the new housing development where his nephew lived. "We just want the truth."

Rick Camat grew up in Southern California and lived in the Puget Sound area several years ago, his cousin Asperin said.

In fact, he was visiting the Seattle area four years ago when another Starbucks employee put a dollar in the pool for him and purchased the winning lottery ticket, Asperin said. Each of the 13 workers was to receive more than $6.6 million before taxes over 26 years, according to published reports at the time.

Rick Camat did not have a full-time job, his family said.

With his winnings, he indulged one of his passions: cars. He bought several, his cousin Asperin said, including a silver Corvette.

He also wanted to invest in real estate, she said. Last week, he invited family to his new Federal Way home for a house-warming party.

"He just wanted to enjoy life and, you know, live it to the fullest, and that's what he did," Asperin said.
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