Three Spokane police officers shot and killed a mentally ill man who lunged at them early Wednesday with a shard of glass.
It was the fifth time in two years city police have shot to death an armed suspect.
Police called Wednesday’s shooting an “officerassisted suicide.”
Blaine Dalrymple, 38, was shot six times at his mother’s South Hill apartment, where he had locked himself in the bathroom and begun smashing things. His mother called police, saying she feared he would kill himself or hurt her.
Officers spent half an hour negotiating with Dalrymple through the bathroom door, said Police Chief Terry Mangan. They sprayed pepper gas under the door when they heard glass breaking inside, the chief said.
The spray apparently didn’t faze Dalrymple, a paranoid schizophrenic who spent six years at Eastern State Hospital and has a history of drug and alcohol abuse.
He continued breaking glass, and police feared he would commit suicide.
“It’s not unusual to have someone who’s affected by drugs or alcohol or on an adrenaline dump to be unaffected by (the spray),” Mangan said.
Medical examiners had not completed an autop sy Wednesday and it was not known whether Dalrymple had been drinking or using drugs. Police say they don’t know what sparked his outburst.
Officers kicked in the door about 3 a.m. and immediately sprayed more pepper gas into Dalrymple’s face, Mangan said.
“He blew right through the pepper spray,” lunging at the officers in a short, narrow hallway, Mangan said.
Police said Dalrymple carried a jagged 9-inch piece of mirror.
Sgt. David McGovern, Officer John Gately and Officer Harlan Harden each fired at Dalrymple with .40-caliber semiautomatic handguns, police said.
Dalrymple was hit by six bullets. It is not clear whether each officer fired twice, although they are trained to do so.
The three officers are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Officer Glenn Bartlett, who was in the apartment but did not shoot, also is on administrative leave.
Bartlett, who graduated from the police academy in December, “is so new … we want to make sure there is no (emotional) trauma,” Mangan said.
Dalrymple was shot 40 minutes after police received a call from Jean Dalrymple. Mangan said police would have had to wait an hour or more for a mental health professional to reach the apartment at 3122 S. Mount Vernon.
It would have been irresponsible for police not to kick in the door when they thought Dalrymple would commit suicide, Mangan said.
Regulations allow the use of force only as a last resort, but require it if officers feel they or others are in danger.
“Obviously if somebody is coming at you from six or eight feet away with the equivalent of a butcher knife, you’re certainly endangering yourself or your fellow officers if you don’t do something,” Mangan said.
Asked whether the three should have shot to wound, Mangan said, “that looks great on television.”
“We don’t teach police to shoot to wound, we don’t teach police to shoot to kill,” he said. “They’re to fire for the center of mass” so they have the greatest chance of hitting the target.
Mangan said he did not know where the bullets struck Dalrymple. He was dead before paramedics arrived at the apartment.
A triplet with two brothers and three sisters, Dalrymple had a history of legal and mental problems. He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade, never married and applied for Social Security benefits for mentally disabled adults in 1984.
Police showed reporters a twopage list of contacts they or probation officers have had with him since 1990. The list included arrests for driving while intoxicated, assault and assorted misdemeanors, Mangan said.
According to Spokane County Superior Court documents, Dalrymple’s most serious offense was in 1981, when he used what court documents termed “force, violence and fear of injury” to steal a van and money. He had just moved from a Tumwater, Wash., alcoholic treatment center to a Spokane halfway house for drug abusers.
Judge Harold Clarke ordered Dalrymple to undergo a mental evaluation, and psychologists determined he was a paranoid schizophrenic, given to hallucinations, hostility and “belligerent behavior.”
“Because of extreme psychosis, he was not tested as he could not understand the test material,” they wrote.
Clarke ordered Dalrymple to stay at Eastern State Hospital for 10 years or until he no longer was a threat.
By October 1982, psychologists said Dalrymple was responding well to psychiatric treatment, and Clarke allowed him occasional field trips from the hospital. He was released for good in 1987.
Dalrymple pleaded guilty in 1989 to taking two cars without their owners’ permission.
He pleaded guilty to taking another car in 1992, and served 14 days of a one-year jail term. He spent another 30 days in jail in 1993, when he was caught smoking marijuana.
“This guy was not John Dillinger,” Mangan said. “He was obviously a troubled guy with a troubled history.”