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Friend claims man shot by police was unarmed

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 6, 2012, 4:28 p.m.

Mark Beaugrand stands outside his house in Post Falls Thursday, Aug. 6, 2012 and wonders what happened to his friend Ed Gover, who was shot by Spokane Valley police officers Wednesday in Spokane Valley.  Gover grew up around Beaugrand and his younger brother in central California and moved up to Idaho several years ago. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Mark Beaugrand stands outside his house in Post Falls Thursday, Aug. 6, 2012 and wonders what happened to his friend Ed Gover, who was shot by Spokane Valley police officers Wednesday in Spokane Valley. Gover grew up around Beaugrand and his younger brother in central California and moved up to Idaho several years ago. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
New details are emerging from the fatal shooting in Spokane Valley including the identity of the dead man and claims from his best friend that he may not have been armed at the time of the shooting.

An autopsy was performed on Ed Gover this morning. He was born Christopher Meeker and recently used that name to create a Facebook page, but he had taken the name Gover years ago, longtime friend Mark Beaugrand told The Spokesman-Review.

“I understand the police force does what it has to do, but to take somebody out like that, it’s wrong,” Beaugrand said. “There’s got to be another method. I don’t understand.”

Spokane Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe issued a press release today that did not address whether Gover was armed.

Later in an interview, she said investigators need to interview the deputies involved before they can say whether the man was armed, DeRuwe said. That interview will take place Friday when she also expects to release the names of the deputies.

“We need an opportunity to talk to them before we release any intimate details of the conflict,” DeRuwe said. “I’ll have a better idea of the interaction between the suspect and the deputies.”

In her release, DeRuwe wrote that deputies had learned about the domestic violence situation from Tuesday night in which Gover held the woman, she described only as 69, at “knife point so she couldn’t call police.”

She said the suspect stole the woman’s Mercedes Wednesday morning before Spokane Valley officers could respond.

While two deputies were parked in front of the victim’s house, the suspect returned in the stolen Mercedes. Deputies had probable cause to arrest him for second-degree assault when he returned, she said. When the suspect saw the deputies, he turned the car around and fled.

“At this point, responding deputies were aware the suspect was homicidal, suicidal and likely armed,” DeRuwe wrote. “During the pursuit, the victim was advised to lock her doors and close the garage door.”

The vehicle pursuit ended a couple of blocks away and the man, whom law enforcement officials have not yet indentified, fled on foot and ran toward the woman’s home on Skipworth Court.

“Fearing he was attempting to return to the victim’s home, responding deputies returned to protect the victim,” DeRuwe said. “As the suspect climbed over the backyard fence of the victim’s home, two deputies confronted him.

“Deputies were concerned the suspect would get inside the home and further assault the victim. A confrontation occurred in the backyard of 1309 N. Skipworth Court and one deputy fired five rounds from his handgun, striking the suspect in the torso,” she wrote. “The second deputy fired one round from his shotgun, striking the suspect in the torso.”

Other deputies began performing CPR until medics arrived. The suspect was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Beaugrand said he spoke to the woman who was described by law enforcement as the victim.

Beaugrand said the woman told him that she did not see a weapon when she walked around the house and saw where the officers shot Gover Wednesday afternoon.

“I asked her what happened and she said, ‘They killed him,’” Beaugrand said. “She said he didn’t have a weapon that she knew of.”

Beaugrand said Gover was a lifelong friend who had been seeing the woman who lives in Spokane Valley for several months. Gover had moved here about a year ago from Utah, and they recently had been having problems over money.

“I will stand up for him. He’s just not that type of person,” Beaugrand said.

On Wednesday, law enforcement said two deputies arrived at the Skipworth home about 10:20 a.m. Wednesday to interview the woman about what happened. They had finished taking the information and were talking among themselves when Gover returned at 12:08 p.m. in the Mercedes.

The deputies “knew he was homicidal, suicidal and that he had been seen in the area,” Chamberlin said Wednesday, referring to Gover. “As the two deputies were talking, he came driving through their two patrol cars. That’s when the chase started.”

Neighbor Katie Wisener saw the two deputies parked at the end of the cul-de-sac on Skipworth and she walked inside to get ready to go to work.

“The next thing I hear are really loud, screeching tires. I thought someone was crashing,” Wisener said. “And then all the cruisers came out of the cul-de-sac with lights and sirens.”

She saw the vehicle chase go west on Boone Avenue and then north, where it abruptly ended. She went back inside and heard what she thought were pops.

“I came back outside and my neighbor asked, ‘Did you just hear those gunshots?’ Then every cruiser in the county was here. They just swooped in,” she said. “I got scared because I thought the person was still on the loose.”

On nearby Pierce Road, Laurie Sheffler was watering her flowers near her pool when she saw deputies running in a field between Pierce Road and Skipworth Court.

“I saw these guys chasing somebody with their guns drawn, saying ‘Stop,’ ” Sheffler said. She heard shots and “ran inside the house. I was scared to death. I didn’t know who they were chasing, I just knew something bad was going on.”

Another neighbor said she was standing outside talking to the domestic violence victim after the deputies had finished questioning her about the Tuesday night assault.

“Somebody said, ‘He’s coming back’ and the deputies took off after him,” the neighbor said. “We expected him to be stopped right away because they were right behind him.”

The neighbor heard sirens for a few moments and “then we saw two police cars come down the street, screeching to a halt. They got out and yelled, ‘Where is he?’ (The assault victim) said ‘I don’t know.’ I just ran back into my house. The police ran into the backyard. After a few minutes I heard the shots.

“It was very frightening,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor offered her condolences to both the deputies who fired the shots and the families of those involved. “I did talk to (the assault victim). I gave her a hug and told her everything would be OK. It was a scary situation.”

Reporter Chelsea Bannach contributed to this report.


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