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Family of man shot by deputies disputes official version of events

Investigators have illustrated Saturday’s fatal shooting in Spokane Valley as a case of a deputy firing on an aggressive, drunken, domestic violence suspect brandishing a knife. The man’s family, who witnessed the shooting, said the death of Roy Jacobs was an abuse of power.

A search warrant filed Monday said Jacobs, 48, called 911 at 5:38 a.m. and asked to be arrested on an outstanding warrant. He had already called 911 twice in the preceding hours for the same reason.

It was during the last call, however, that dispatchers reported hearing a voice in the background telling him to hang up the phone. They suspected a domestic dispute, and three deputies, Scot Nelson, Tanya Walker and Jerad Kiehn, responded to the Spokane Valley apartment. They arrived at 5:46 a.m., knocked on the door and were invited inside.

According to the court records, the deputies said they saw a woman “struggling” with a man seated in a chair. The woman “was removed” from the area, the documents said, and deputies saw the man in the chair holding a 12-inch knife.

“Deputies immediately ordered the male to drop the knife, but the male did not comply,” the search warrant said. After continued commands to drop the knife, “the male stood, facing the deputies, holding the knife up in a threatening manner.”

Deputy Kiehn then fired two shots at Jacobs. One bullet hit Jacobs in the abdomen and killed him, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office. He was pronounced dead at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Jacobs’ brother, Bruce Jacobs, said he witnessed the shooting and called it “way out of line.”

The shooting happened in his apartment.

“He was no threat to anyone,” the younger brother said. “He was sitting in my chair when they killed him.”

He said the knife is a collectible, one of many displayed on the walls of his North McDonald Road apartment. He said he is not sure if his brother had one of the knives as he sat in the chair.

The Spokane Police Department is investigating the shooting. A spokesperson did not return phone messages left Monday.

The search warrant said investigators seized one “large” knife and case.

The family said four children, ranging in ages from 2 to 12, were asleep in the apartment when the deputy fired.

Jacobs’ criminal history included one misdemeanor assault conviction from 15 years ago, and then a 2004 conviction for drunken driving.

John Jacobs, the oldest of the six Jacobs siblings, said Roy – whom everyone had nicknamed Roby since he was a kid – had talked earlier in the week of his plans to get drunk and turn himself in.

He said his brother had tried several times to turn himself in on the warrant for missing a child support payment.

Each time he was told the jail was full, according to Jacobs.

His plan, John Jacobs said, was to get drunk and then go to jail and sleep through his two-day sentence. He said his brother wanted to turn himself in and would never have threatened deputies.

And if he did confront them, John Jacobs said, “How come they didn’t use Mace or a Taser? Why did they feel they had to kill him?”

Jacobs has one adult and two teenage sons. He was divorced and had been living with his longtime girlfriend. He was laid off from a plumbing company and had been trying to start his own business.

Jacobs’ niece Amber Donges said the warrant for unpaid child support was uncommon and he was involved in the lives of his children along with nieces and nephews.

“He was an awesome father,” she said. “He treated me like I was his daughter. I talked to him every day.”

Spokane police are investigating as stipulated by Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team guidelines established to ensure a law enforcement department doesn’t investigate its own incidents, such as officer-involved shootings.

This story has been changed from the original; the spellings of Scot Nelson and Jerad Kiehn have been corrected.