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Suspected beer thieves shot by police in Olympia

OLYMPIA — Police in the capital of Washington state say an officer shot two men in their 20s suspected of trying to steal beer from a grocery store.

Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said at an early Thursday news conference that both men were shot in the chest and taken to the hospital. He says one man is in stable condition and one is in critical condition.

Roberts says police responded around 1 a.m. to a call from a Safeway, where employees said two men tried to steal beer and then threw the alcohol at workers when confronted and ran away.

An officer spotted the suspects nearby, then reported the shooting soon after. Roberts didn't say what happened or whether the men were armed.

The officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Who can take pics of police?

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday.

The arrest of two reporters covering the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this week prompted outrage in some quarters and posed the question of just who can take pictures of police officers. The answer according to this article in the Atlantic is: anyone.

A Washington Post reporter was arrested outside of St. Louis, Missouri, on Wednesday evening after video-recording law-enforcement officials. He was well within his rights—and would have been even if he weren't a journalist. Full story.

From the article: Citizens have the right to take pictures of anything in plain view in a public space, including police officers and federal buildings. Police can not confiscate, demand to view, or delete digital photos

How comfortable would you be taking photos or videos of police officers in a public setting?

Ferguson police reveal name of cop who shot teen

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The police chief in the St. Louis suburb where an officer fatally shot an unarmed teenager identified the officer on Friday as Darren Wilson, and said the officer was dispatched to the area after a reported robbery.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson made the announcement after initially declining to the release the officer’s name, saying he had received numerous death threats. The officer has been on administrative leave since the shooting Saturday of 18-year-old Michael Brown, whose death has sparked several days of clashes with furious protesters in the city.

Jackson said Wilson, along with other officers, were called to the area after a 911 call reporting a “strong-arm” robbery just before noon Saturday at a convenience store. He did not say if Brown was a suspect in that robbery and refused to answer any questions, saying he would release more information later Friday.

Related: Highway Patrol takes over Missouri Town

How closely have you been following the shooting in Ferguson?

Traffic cameras capture part of standoff


Portions of the chase and final confrontation between a despondent Army veteran and Spokane-area law enforcement were broadcast across the Internet by state traffic cameras.

Although the Washington Department of Transportation doesn’t store the images, those who were on the website Tuesday night were able to follow the chase westbound along Interstate 90 from the state line and see part of the standoff at the end of the Sullivan exit ramp.

Some quick-thinking viewers pulled screen grabs of the photos before they expired, some of which were posted to Facebook by the siren-obsessed website Spokane News. Among them is the above image of a man, thought to be 23-year-old Jed Zillmer, standing alongside a stopped car facing a fleet of law enforcement vehicles behind him.

Zillmer, who reportedly was despondent and threatening to shoot people, was killed by Spokane County sheriff's deputies in the confrontation. A multi-agency investigation is underway.

The state's traffic control cameras capture and display new images every two minutes.

Al Gilson, a spokesman for the state Transportation Department, said they are intended to provide people with a glimpse of current traffic conditions and to alert authorities to potential problems as quickly as possible. The cameras are monitored around the clock in Spokane by traffic operators who can call police or paramedics to advise of collisions or other unsafe conditions.

The cameras generally are pointed at the freeway but can be rotated. On Tuesday night, the freeway camera at Sullivan Road was rotated to the north when the fleeing vehicle exited and continued to broadcast as the chase turned to a standoff.

“They keep track of what’s going on,” Gilson said of the camera monitors.

NRA documentary examines Wallace shootings

The shooting of two Spokane County sheriff's deputies last year by a reputed heroin trafficker with a penchant for firearms and a long history of felony convictions is now getting national attention.

Above is a YouTube trailer for a new documentary, produced by the NRA as part of its Life of Duty series, which takes viewers on an in-depth look at the shocking case from the perspectives of those who survived it. Called "Catch & Release," the documentary takes a critical look at U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno's decision to release accused drug kingpin Charles Wallace into an unsecured drug treatment facility in Spokane Valley while awaiting trial — over the objections of the cops and federal prosecutors familiar with the case.

As those of us in Spokane know all too well, Wallace quickly walked away from the American Behavioral Health Systems facility to a waiting car. A few days later he would open fire on Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway, critically wounding both and sparking a rolling gun battle and wild chase that ended north of Deer Park when Wallace crashed at a police blockade and then took his own life.

The Spokesman-Review interviewed the deputies last year for a gripping story about their ordeal. The magistrate, Imbrogno, has a history of controversial pre-trial release decisions but she's also been accused by defense attorneys of being too tough.

The full documentary can be viewed here.

Man shot by police suffered from dementia

SEATTLE (AP) — The family of a man shot to death by Seattle police says the 77-year-old suffered from dementia.

The King County medical examiner's office hasn't yet released the name.

Family members told The Seattle Times he's Henry Lee Sr.

His son, Henry Lee Jr. said he suffered from dementia and other disease. The dead man's grandson, Gabriel Lee, told the Times he was a retired construction worker who lived alone and had been losing his memory over the past three years.

Police say they shot an armed man who raised a gun at an officer. They went to the home because he complained about a disturbance outside his home, which turned out to be a fire department aid call.

The man had called 911 using his medical alert relay service, said Detective Mark Jamieson.

"He was talking about the lights outside and said he had a weapon and wasn't afraid to use it," Jamieson said.

He mentioned a prowler, but there was none, Jamieson said.

The disturbance was the fire department responding to a person in a car who appeared to have some sort of medical crisis.

Additional officers responded to protect the firefighters and an officer at the scene. When they approached the house to talk to the man, he came to the door with a gun, Jamieson said.

The man refused commands to drop the weapon. Police said when he aimed it at one officer, two other officers fired. The man was killed at the scene. No officers were injured.

The officers involved have been placed on leave for the shooting investigation.

"We don't know what his thinking process was," Jamieson said.

Questioning Official Account of Killing

Troy Evans, photographed Thursday,recorded home-security video of the shooting of Justin Todd by police following a high-speed chase that ended in the cul-de-sac outside his home in Hayden on March 12.He questions the police version of what happened. More here. (Jesse Tinsley SR photo of Troy Evans)

A homeowner says his surveillance video brings into question the official account of why law enforcement shot and killed a North Idaho fugitive three weeks ago, though police warn against drawing too many conclusions from the footage because it captures just a portion of the chaotic 20-minute chase and final encounter. Video from a home in the Hayden cul-de-sac where Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, was cornered by police shows a Post Falls officer apparently firing at Todd as the fleeing felon tried to drive past the officer. The officer nearly slipped on the icy road before steadying himself and firing several more shots/Meghann M. Cuniff, SR. More here.


Pregnant lady shot by WSP faces charges

An unarmed pregnant woman shot during a drug raid in Spokane nearly two weeks ago faces felony crack cocaine charges under a police recommendation announced Wednesday.

Keamia D. Powell, 24, gave birth shortly after she was shot in the shoulder Sept. 24 at 1405 N. Lincoln St. No. 11, where she lives with her mother, Aletha A. Robinson, 41.

Investigators are recommending Powell and Robinson each be charged with felonies after detectives found crack cocaine in their apartment as part of an ongoing probe into drug dealing in the Moscow-Pullman area.

The apartment is where police arrested a woman caught on tape assaulting her young son at the downtown bus plaza in November. Powell is the woman’s niece.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 6: WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

Oct. 1 Sergeant who shot pregnant woman is 25-year veteran

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

A Washington State Patrol sergeant who shot an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid last week has told investigators it was “an accidental discharge,” sheriff’s officials announced Thursday.

Sgt. Lee Slemp (left, in 2006) said he accidentally fired his weapon as the woman, whose name has not been released, attempted to flee out a window at 1405 N. Lincoln St. on Sept. 24, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.

Slemp, a 25-year WSP veteran, described the shooting to investigators in his first in-depth interview on Wednesday.

The news comes two days after Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste told The Spokesman-Review that he had no reason to believe the shooting was accidental.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: WSP names officer in shooting

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman

WSP chief denies accidental shooting rumors

The chief of Washington State Patrol said Tuesday he has no reason to believe last week’s shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman in Spokane was accidental.

“I don’t have anything to lead me to believe that,” Chief John Batiste said Tuesday during an interview with The Spokesman-Review editorial board.

The possibility that the Friday shooting by WSP Sgt. Lee Slemp during a drug raid in Spokane was accidental has been reported by Spokane television station KXLY this week, which cited unnamed sources.

Read the rest of my story here.

Another charged in crime spree shooting

Another man has been accused of a shooting that left a teenager wounded and began a crime spree that included shots fired at a Spokane police officer.

Greg Sharkey, Jr., 25, (left) is due in Spokane County Superior Court today on 10 counts of first-degree attempted murder, the sames charges facing 20-year-old Tony E. Dawson.

Police say the men each fired shots at a group of 10 people outside a house party in the 1100 block of W. Frederick Avenue on Dec. 22. A party-goer apparently had shined a laser pointer at the men, according to court documents. Witnesses told police one of the men said “west side” before firing several shots.

Police found shell casings from a .45-caliber handgun - the same gun Dawson is accused of using to shoot at Officer Kristopher Honaker early the next morning. Honaker had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting. Detectives don’t believe the group drove back to the shooting scene on purpose.

Detectives later learned Sharkey also had fired shots at that group, but he used a .38 caliber Rossi revolver that didn’t leave behind shell casings, Lt. Dave McGovern said today.

Dawson, (right) Sharkey and Margaret D. Shults, 22, are accused of stealing a Suburban minutes before Dawson fired shots at Honaker. Police don’t believe Sharkey had anything to do with that shooting other than being in the Suburban at the time, McGovern said.

Court documents detailing the investigation show the shootings appear to be orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”

She said at one point, Dawson took two guns from his waistband and compared himself to the famous politically minded bandit (a dreadfully inaccurate comparison), declaring “I’m Jesse (expletive deleted) James.”

Past coverage: Accused shooter acted like ‘Jesse James’

Man, 20, accused of shooting at police

Police officer targeted by gunman

Man faces 11 counts of attempted murder

A 20-year-old man accused of shooting at a Spokane police officer faces 11 counts of first-degree attempted murder for the alleged two-day crime spree.

Tony E. Dawson is due in Spokane County Superior Court via video this afternoon.

He’s been in jail since Dec. 23, accused of shooting an 18-year-old man, then beating a woman and trying to steal her car before firing shots at a Spokane police officer from a stolen Suburban.

Dawson faces 10 counts of first-degree attempted murder for allegedly firing shots at a group of 10 people outside a home at 1103 W. Frederick, hitting the teenager in the back. He faces an additional count for allegedly firing at least four shots at Officer Kristopher Honaker, who had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting.

He’s also charged with first-degree robbery and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. Read more here.

One point of order:

While Dawson’s alleged robbery accomplice told police he’d been “acting like Jesse James,” a look at his case, coupled with the in depth examination of James provided by T.J. Stiles in his fine book “Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War” shows that comparison to be painfully inaccurate.

James was a politically minded outlaw set on furthering the Confederate cause and continuing the fight against the Union in the years following the Civil War. While he touted guns and fired shots, he did so with a political thirst for attention that led to a partnership with a Missouri newspaper editor, John Newman Edwards.

The comparison of Dawson to James seems to have been spurred by his gun-touting antics, but James’ rise to a historic figure was driven by much more than weapons.

Stiles’ book on James is the best biography I’ve read. I’m still looking for a chance to enjoy his latest work, “The Last Tycoon: the Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt,” winner of the National Book Award.

Accused shooter acted ‘like Jesse James’

A gunman fires into a crowd, hitting a teenager in the back. A carjacker beats a driver with a gun, trying to force her out of her car. Thieves steal an SUV and one of them later fires shots at a police officer.

Spokane police now believe the events of Dec. 22 and 23 are part of a crime spree instigated by a man a friend described as “acting like Jesse James.”

Tony E. Dawson, 20, already was in Spokane County Jail in connection with the attempted carjacking when police say they connected him to the Dec. 23 attack on Officer Kristopher Honaker, who had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting.

Dawson now faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree robbery, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and 10 counts of first-degree assault. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for decades.

“It was all one series of events,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern. 

Also charged are Margaret D. Shults, 22, (left) accused of first-degree robbery; and Greg Sharkey, Jr., 25, accused of attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree robbery.

A fingerprint on a Ford Bronco, which was targeted by thieves before a Chevrolet Suburban was stolen, helped link Dawson to the crimes, police said.

Interviews led detectives to Shults and Sharkey, (bottom right) who reportedly admitted to stealing the Suburban with Dawson from the 1600 block of East Rowan Avenue early Dec. 23.

Court documents detailing the investigation show the shootings appear to be orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”

Shults, who police say was driving the Suburban, told investigators Dawson ordered her at gunpoint to keep driving, then fired several shots at the officer.

Dawson reportedly threatened Shults that if she stopped the vehicle, “he had no problem killing either Shults or Sharkey,” documents state.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read previous coverage here.