Emergency dispatchers warned law enforcement responding to a high-speed chase with a suicidal Army veteran earlier this month that the man was seeking a confrontation.
“He says he doesn’t plan to harm citizens,” a dispatcher said of Jed Zillmer, 23, who was armed when he was shot and killed by deputies near Spokane Valley Mall on Feb. 11. “Unless we take too long to shoot him.”
More than 40 minutes of recorded radio traffic between responding sheriff’s deputies and dispatchers was released by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.
The recordings detail the response to Zillmer’s initial calls that he was seeking “suicide by cop,” according to dispatchers, through a high-speed chase that ended at the intersection of East Indiana Avenue and North Sullivan Road. Six deputies opened fire on Zillmer, who was found with three guns, after he refused to comply with law enforcement commands, according to court documents and the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said that deputies worked to limit citizens’ exposure to the situation, stopping Zillmer before he reached the Spokane Valley Mall. According to the recordings, spike strips were deployed just east of the Indiana exit to slow Zillmer, who had been traveling at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. Officers attempted a maneuver to disable his 1997 Honda sedan but backed off when it was apparent he was slowing to a stop, according to the recordings.
One dispatcher said Zillmer told a city 911 dispatch supervisor “he wants to be shot in the head” and “he will shoot in the air until we shoot him.”
Paramedics did not immediately approach Zillmer after the shooting because of a fear that there were explosives in the Honda. Zillmer had told dispatchers he was “heavily armed.”
The regional response team is handling the investigation into the shooting and will forward information to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office for any potential charges in the case.
Zillmer, a former infantry sniper, earned a Purple Heart during battle in Afghanistan in February 2011, according to a lawsuit he filed along with other veterans claiming he’d been denied benefits. Zillmer was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and computer science at Spokane Falls Community College, according to his family. The family suspected he might have been suffering from post-traumatic stress.