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Deputies cleared in shooting of man armed with knife who allegedly set motel on fire

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 1, 2017, 10:40 p.m.

FILE - Investigators gather at the front entrance after fire burned through the roof of the Motel 6 in Spokane Valley early June 7, 2017. A man was reportedly shot by Spokane County sheriffs deputies after he barricaded himself into a room and refused to evacuate. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - Investigators gather at the front entrance after fire burned through the roof of the Motel 6 in Spokane Valley early June 7, 2017. A man was reportedly shot by Spokane County sheriffs deputies after he barricaded himself into a room and refused to evacuate. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

No criminal charges will be filed against three Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies who in June shot a man accused of setting his Spokane Valley motel room on fire.

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office determined deputies Nathan Booth, Jeffrey Getchell and Tyler Kullman were “justified in their use of deadly force” while attempting to arrest 41-year-old Michael J. Kruse, who on June 7 allegedly set fire to his room at Motel 6, 1919 N. Hutchinson Road. Kruse was shot by at least one of the deputies after barricading himself in the burning motel with a knife and refusing to leave.

Kruse had his first appearance in court on Aug. 3, when he was charged with first-degree arson in connection with the fire. He is currently housed in Spokane County Jail awaiting trial, which has not been scheduled. He was previously hospitalized following the shooting.

According to a county news release, Kruse deliberately set fire to his second-story motel room at about 3:30 a.m. before calling the front desk clerk to his room and screaming for the clerk to “call police and tell them to shoot and kill him.”

Upon arrival, Deputy Booth said Kruse yelled from the top of the second-story stairs to “kill him.” Booth apparently saw that Kruse had a 5- to 6-inch-long knife in his hand and was yelling at the deputy that he wanted to die and that he should shoot him.

Soon after Deputies Getchell, Kullman and Spenser Rassier arrived, Getchell attempted multiple times to de-escalate the situation, officials said in the release. Kruse continued to yell at the deputies that they were going to have to shoot him.

“See my head?” deputies said Kruse told them. “Shoot me.”

Kruse then held the knife above his shoulder and started running down the stairs at a “rapid pace,” deputies said. Rassier fired a less-lethal bean bag round from his shotgun that hit him in the torso, but it apparently had no effect.

As he continued to make his way down the stairs, deputies told him to drop the knife, they said in the news release. When he was about 7 to 10 feet away, Booth, Getchell and Kullman fired their handguns multiple times. Rassier did not fire a lethal round.

Kruse was struck with their bullets and went down to the ground on his back. He was rendered aid at the scene, then transported to a local hospital.

Prosecutors said under these circumstances, it was “reasonable for Deputies Booth, Getchell, and Kullman to use deadly force. Kruse presented a serious and immediate threat to officers by coming forward aggressively with a knife in an offensive manner.”

On Aug. 17, Kruse was ordered to undergo several mental health evaluations at Eastern State Hospital. He’s being held on a $50,000 bond.


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