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A Spokane man shot by sheriff’s deputies two weeks ago pleaded not guilty to a single assault charge this week as investigators examined his medical records and searched the scene of the shooting for the second time.
Sean P. Houlihan, 37, is charged with first-degree assault after a friend said he fired a gun at him during an argument in the basement of Houlihan’s home at 909 E. Brentwood Drive on Sept. 16.
Sheriff’s deputies David Westlake (right) and Thad Schultz (left) fired several shots at Houlihan, striking him twice, after he returned to the home in his Dodge pickup.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said last week that Westlake has always said Houliahn fired no shots but Schultz believed Houlihan did fire shots. Investigators have said Houlihan faces two additional assault charges related to the confrontation with Schultz and Westlake, but prosecutors have not filed them.
“They are telling me the investigation is ongoing,” Houlihan’s lawyer, Robert Schiffner, said Wednesday. “But I suspect if they had hard evidence they would have charged him yesterday.”
Houlihan pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a single count of first-degree assault. He’s out of jail on $75,000 bond.
Lester J. Doyle, who argued with Houlihan earlier in the night, said the deputies were in the doorway of the home when twice ordered Houlihan to put is hands in air.
Doyle heard three shots but doesn’t believe they came form the deputies “because he was looking at the deputies when he heard the shots,” according to a search warrant.
Doyle, 33, said he heard Houlihan say “Oh, I’m hit. I’m down. I’m not doing anything,” according to the warrant, which was used to examine the shooting scene again Monday.
Investigators already recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the street near where Houlihan fell. They recovered a .40 caliber casing from the bed of the truck but have found no other casings. The state crime lab already has several bullets and fragments that were found next to the truck and in the truck.
“Immediately after Houlihan was shot, the deputies and medics repeatedly walked through the area where Houlihan was lying,” according to the warrant. “Casings from rounds fired by Houlihan could have easily been stepped on and forced deep into the grass or into the ground.”
Investigators recovered two bullets from the scene Monday.
Then today, they obtained a search warrant for Houlihan’s medical records at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
WSP Detective Ryan Spangler wrote that he was hoping to establish “Houlihan’s position in reference to the Deputies at the time he was shot as it related to the injuries he received.”
Two deputies involved in a shooting last month near Wandermere have not changed their stories about what happened that night, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.
A search warrant stating that interviews with Deputies David Westlake and Thad Schultz indicate it’s possible Sean P. Houlihan didn’t initiate the gunfire Sept. 18 was misinterpreted, Knezovich said in an interview last week week.
Schultz and Sgt. Martin Tucker “are adamant and have always been adamant that they were shot at,” and Westlake has always said he doesn’t believe shots were fired at him, Knezovich said.
The warrant, which was used to examine Houlihan’s Dodge pickup, said initial investigation “had not confirmed the statements of (Houlihan’s alleged assault victim) and both Deputies regarding shots fired at the Deputies.”
Deputies who initially said an armed assault suspect fired on them before they shot back, wounding him last week, now say they’re unsure if the man shot at them at all.
The newly disclosed doubts over who fired first in the Sept. 16 showdown are contained in investigative documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court.
Investigators recovered no forensic evidence at the scene corroborating the deputies’ initial statements that “multiple shots” had been fired at them, and in subsequent interviews with Washington State Patrol investigators this week the deputies have acknowledged it’s possible the suspect didn’t fire his gun.
Either way, deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) say they feared that hostile fire was imminent.
More information is expected to be relased today regarding the deputy-involved shooting in north Spokane County last week.
Although witnesses at the scene of the Thursday night shooting said Spokane County sheriff’s Deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) were fired on first by assault suspect Sean P. Houlihan, investigators are awaiting forensic analysis of firearms found in Houlihan’s pickup before concluding whether Houlihan also fired shots, according to a probable cause affidavit signed on Saturday by Washington State Patrol Trooper Ryan Spangler.
Wasington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Troy Briggs said Wedneday that both deputies have been interviewed. He plans to release more details this afternoon.