The chief of Washington State Patrol said Tuesday he has no reason to believe last week’s shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman in Spokane was accidental.
“I don’t have anything to lead me to believe that,” Chief John Batiste said Tuesday during an interview with The Spokesman-Review editorial board.
The possibility that the Friday shooting by WSP Sgt. Lee Slemp during a drug raid in Spokane was accidental was reported by Spokane television station KXLY this week, which cited unnamed sources in raising the possibility.
Batiste was dubious of the claim.
“I think the best thing to do is wait for the facts to come out and not speculate,” he said. “I want an answer just as everyone else wants an answer.”
Slemp, a detective sergeant now on paid leave while the shooting is investigated by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, is a 25-year veteran of the WSP.
The woman injured in the shooting, whom authorities still have not publicly identified, is a suspect in a crack cocaine investigation in the Moscow-Pullman area, said Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers.
Slemp, 54, and other members of the Quad City Drug Task Force, along with members of the Spokane gang task force, searched the woman’s apartment at 1405 N. Lincoln St., which she shares with her mother.
Witnesses said Friday that they heard no commands to drop weapons or to comply before the woman, who was 39 weeks pregnant, was shot.
Investigators recovered crack cocaine, marijuana and prescription medication but no weapons.
Myers declined to discuss the shooting but said the woman, whom he would not identify, remains a suspect in the case.
“We believe that the people we are focused on, and we still believe that those are the people involved, were the source or suppliers of crack cocaine as well as powder cocaine” in the Pullman-Moscow area, Myers said. “We had a valid warrant, and we had a reason to be there. We wouldn’t be there unless we had a good, solid reason.”
The woman’s family told a local TV station that labor was induced over the weekend and that she gave birth to a boy.