When Eric Gilberts first saw a stranger sitting on the front porch of his north Spokane home, he thought about opening the door to talk.
But after Gilberts saw events unfold between the man and a Spokane police officer, resulting in a shooting, he knew calling the police had been the right decision. The 26-year-old man Gilberts saw on his porch allegedly pulled a gun during a confrontation with a Spokane police officer, officials said. The officer fired multiple shots hitting Ryan L. Patterson with one bullet in the jaw. Patterson was in critical condition at a downtown hospital Tuesday night, said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dave Reagan. The veteran Spokane police officer, who has not been identified, was placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, which is standard procedure during an investigation.
Gilberts watched the encounter between the police officer and Patterson unfold through his front window.
Early Tuesday morning, Gilberts heard a noise outside his home at 1739 E. Wabash but thought it was his wife stirring, he said. When he looked out, he said, he saw a “kid” with his head cradled in his hands.
“I thought maybe the kid had just broke up with his girlfriend, or he was having rough night, and he’d go away soon,” Gilberts said. “I looked out about 10 minutes later, and he was lying down.”
Gilberts, who is a security guard at a casino, bought the north Spokane home about three years ago.
Other than a few kids down the street who party a little late, he said, he hasn’t had any problems in the neighborhood.
But he said his instincts told him the stranger on his porch shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday might be trouble. When the police officer arrived, “he had to shake the guy pretty hard to wake him up,” said Gilberts, 39. The officer gave the homeowner an acknowledging nod when he saw Gilberts peering out the window at him.
“When the cop tried to talk to him (Patterson), he would just swear. He wouldn’t answer his questions. The cop warned him to calm down,” Gilberts said.
The confrontation escalated, and Patterson jumped off the front porch and tried to attack the officer, Gilberts said. “That’s when the cop tried to Taser him.”
But Gilberts says the officer gave Patterson fair warning. “The cop warned him at least twice before he fired the Taser,” he said. When the man was hit, he yelled out “that hurt.”
Then Gilberts saw the gun in Patterson’s hand. Patterson was standing three to four feet from the officer in the yard, said Gilberts, who quit watching until he heard three gunshots.
When Gilberts looked out the window again, Patterson was rolling around on the ground.
Spokane Police Department spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said she did not know what kind of gun Patterson had or whether he fired it during the confrontation.
Neighbor Craig VanHover said he heard the shots and went outside to see what was happening.
“Tons of cops showed up,” VanHover said.
The Spokane officer who initially responded was alone but called for backup after he saw Patterson’s gun, DeRuwe said.
The officer was removed from the scene, Reagan said. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
Reagan said Patterson has an extensive history of contacts with law enforcement that includes “convictions for driving on a suspended license, vehicle theft, reckless burning, possession of stolen property and possession of controlled substances. He was found guilty on several parole or probation violations as well.”