The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has determined two law enforcement officers were justified when they shot a man who was wielding a bolt-action rifle in a Hillyard neighborhood apartment in March.
Ronald Acre, 34, who had reportedly struggled with mental illness, survived after he was shot multiple times by Deputy Sam Palmer and Officer Scott Hice on the morning of March 12 at Agnes Kehoe Place, a subsidized apartment building at 5313 N. Regal St. The Spokane Housing Authority had moved to evict Acre the previous month.
According to a news release, Palmer arrived at the building to serve Acre an eviction order, but before confronting him the deputy checked in with the property manager, who was concerned because Acre had previously threatened other tenants. Palmer called in backup from the Spokane Police Department, as well as a mental health professional.
After knocking on Acre’s door and receiving no response, Palmer used a key to open the door, and the officers found Acre sitting on a couch on the far side of the room, according to the news release. Another couch had been propped up on its end and was partially blocking Acre from the officers’ view.
Acre initially sat still on the couch, staring at the officers, according to the news release, and then he told the officers “that they had to go, that they should contact their supervisors and also to contact the federal government.”
As Palmer and Hice moved to physically apprehend Acre, he placed his left hand, and then his right hand, under a blanket that was lying next to him on the couch. He pulled out the rifle, a Mossberg .30-06, and the officers immediately retreated from the apartment, according to the news release.
After Acre ignored commands to put down the weapon, Palmer and Hice each fired several shots. Acre eventually dropped the gun and showed his hands, and officers re-entered the apartment to render medical aid before paramedics arrived, according to the news release. Acre was then taken to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Further investigation revealed the rifle was fully functional and loaded with four rounds, including an armor-piercing round on which someone had written the words “Mick Cop,” according to the news release. A search of the apartment also turned up boxes of ammunition.
Another tenant in the apartment building, Justin Taylor, told The Spokesman-Review on the day of the shooting that Acre had struggled with mental illness and should not have owned a gun.
The prosecutor’s office deemed the shooting justified because there was no indication the officers had “acted out of malice or lacked a good-faith belief in the correctness of their actions,” according to the news release.
Correction: This story was changed on Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. A previous version misstated which part of Acre’s body was wounded in the shooting, according to Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell.