A man acquitted of assaulting two police officers who shot him in October 2009 is suing the city of Spokane Valley.
David J. Glidden, 29, was paralyzed by the shooting and is seeking compensation for millions of dollars in medical expenses he’s accrued and expects to accrue. He was holding a pellet gun when shot by officers at his Spokane Valley home Oct. 30, 2009.
The lawsuit also names Spokane County sheriff’s deputies Aaron Childress and Griffin Criswell. They were assigned to the Spokane Valley Police Department when they shot Glidden after responding to his home after a report of a suicidal and possibly armed man.
Prosecutors ruled the shooting justified but charged Glidden with two counts of third-degree assault on the officers, though neither officer was injured. A jury acquitted Glidden in February.
“This is not a case where he was told to put down the weapon. This is not a case where he knew they were police officers,” said Glidden’s lawyer, Ray Dearie of Seattle. “He was shot without warning, and that’s just wrong.”
Police testified at trial that an officer ordered him to drop the weapon but “basically it happened so quick that as he was starting to say it, that’s when they started shooting,” said Kyle Zeller, who defended Glidden in his criminal trial.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Glidden’s pellet gun didn’t have the orange tip and appeared real.
“A guy steps out and starts pointing a gun at you and it looks like a real gun, you don’t have a lot of time,” Knezovich said. “The fact that they were able to say ‘drop the gun’ indicates that at least the verbal command was given, but there’s just not a lot of time in that situation.”
Dearie, however, is critical of the police tactics.
“If you’re going to go to someone’s house ostensibly to protect that person, and you think he might be upset and you think he might be armed, what on Earth are you doing hiding?” Dearie asked. “It’s essentially akin to an ambush.”
A man who knew Glidden from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings called police after learning Glidden was very drunk and upset about his girlfriend breaking up with him.
Childress and Criswell were approaching from opposite sides of the home at 4727 E. Third Ave. when Glidden walked outside with the pellet gun.
Glidden said he’d gone outside to scare away a feral cat that frequently urinated on the property. He said he didn’t know police were on scene, and Criswell and Childress hadn’t announced their presence.
Childress and Criswell both opened fire, creating a “crossfire situation (that) could have been avoided, given better positioning at the front of the house,” according to an internal affairs investigation.
“It was very fortunate that neither deputy was struck by the other’s bullets during the gunfire,” according to the investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office ruled the shooting justified, saying the presence of a weapon pointed at deputies meant “anything less than deadly force would have been inappropriate.”
“He was shot as a result of his decisions and actions,” investigators wrote of Glidden. “Only through the expert medical trauma care did Glidden survive his gunshot wounds.”
When he was shot, Glidden had a blood alcohol level of .23, nearly three times the point at which someone is considered legally drunk, according to court documents.
He now lives in an assisted care facility in Western Washington, Dearie said.