Police release surveillance video in shooting investigation

AP News
Posted: May 22, 2015 9:39 PM
Police release surveillance video in shooting investigation

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Law enforcement officials on Friday released surveillance video from a grocery store that is part of an investigation of an officer-involved shooting that wounded two men who were suspected of trying to steal beer.

The video released by the Thurston County Sheriff's Office in Washington state shows two young black men walking into a store holding skateboards.

Olympia Police Department spokeswoman Laura Wohl said in an email that officials have confirmed "that the individuals in the Safeway surveillance are the two suspects who were shot."

One is seen leaving with what appears to be a case of beer. When confronted by a store employee, the man tosses it near her and the case breaks, splattering liquid on the ground. The man then runs away.

Olympia Officer Ryan Donald was among those who responded about 1 a.m. Thursday to a 911 call from the Safeway store, which was released by Olympia police on Friday. In that call, the store worker says her hand was hit when the case of beer was thrown at her.

Donald reported he was being assaulted with a skateboard before the shooting that injured Bryson Chaplin, 21, and Andre Thompson, 24. Police, who originally identified the two as stepbrothers, said Friday they are half brothers.

At a news conference Thursday, Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said that while the suspects are black and the officer is white, "There's no indication to me that race was a factor in this case at all."

Roberts said that officers arriving to the call split up to search for the suspects. Donald encountered two men with skateboards who fit witnesses' descriptions, and moments later, he radioed in that shots had been fired, the police chief said.

In radio calls released by police, Donald calls dispatchers once he spots the men, and again to report that he fired shots, and that both of them were running.

He tells dispatchers that one of the men "assaulted me with his skateboard."

"I tried to grab his friend," Donald said. "They're very aggressive, just so you know."

He then says he has one man, then both, at gunpoint and asks for backup.

Seconds later, he shouts, "Shots fired! One down," and again asks for more backup units. He then says the second man has been shot.

Chaplin was in intensive care, but his condition was upgraded from critical to serious, officials with Harborview Medical Center in Seattle said Friday. Thompson, who was originally brought to Tacoma General Hospital and had been in stable condition, according to police, was not listed as being at the hospital late Thursday.

Thursday's shooting is being investigated by a team of detectives from several agencies. Two skateboards were recovered from the shooting scene and an investigation will likely take three to six weeks, said Brad Watkins, chief deputy of the Thurston County Sheriff's Department. The men weren't armed with guns, investigators said.

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The police chief said Donald wasn't injured, but an officer "has the right to defend himself" if a suspect wields an object that could be used as a deadly weapon.

He said that there is no known video of the confrontation between Donald and the two men, and noted that Olympia police officers do not wear body cameras and their cars are not outfitted with dashboard cameras.

Donald, 35, who is on administrative leave pending the investigation, has been with the department for just over three years. No residents have filed complaints against him, and he was recently recognized by the agency for being proactive on investigations, Roberts said. He worked previously as an Army police officer, the chief said.

The release of the video and 911 call came a day after hundreds of people protesting the shootings rallied at a park then marched about a mile to a building that houses police headquarters and City Hall.