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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

State patrol officer shoots pregnant woman

Spokane police investigate at an apartment complex at Lincoln and Sinto where a Washington State Patrol detective-sergeant shot and injured a woman Friday morning, Sept. 24, 2010. Police say the woman's injuries are not life-threatening. (Meghann Cuniff / The Spokesman-Review)
A pregnant, unarmed woman was shot during a drug raid in Spokane on Friday morning and she remained hospitalized late last night as investigators pieced together what happened in the county’s third officer-involved shooting in four weeks. A Washington State Patrol detective sergeant shot the woman, who according to the sheriff’s spokesman is 39 weeks pregnant, while serving a search warrant at the Victoria Apartments, 1405 N. Lincoln St., according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the shooting along with members of the Spokane Police Department and the WSP. Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan confirmed that officers found no weapons in the home but did find quantities of drugs during the execution of the search warrant. “During the entry, a female suspect inside the apartment became non-compliant with officers’ instructions,” Reagan wrote in a news release. “When she attempted to flee out a bedroom window, officers attempted to restrain her. During efforts to prevent her escape, a shot was fired and the woman suffered a minor wound to her upper torso. She fell out the window and received first aid from containment officers stationed at the back of the apartments.” He offered no further details about why the detective used deadly force, which law enforcement officers are trained to use if they believe their lives are in danger. Reagan did not identify the woman but said she was a drug suspect and that a multiagency task force from the Moscow-Pullman area “had identified residents at the Spokane apartment complex as suppliers of crack cocaine sold in southeast Washington.” A woman who identified herself as the victim’s mother, but who wouldn’t give her name, said there were no drugs or weapons in the home. But in his later news release, Reagan said officers found crack cocaine, marijuana and controlled prescription drugs. The woman said the shooting occurred just before 9 a.m. after investigators had declared the apartment cleared. Tensions ran high hours after the shooting as the victim’s family arrived and her mother told them of the gunfire. “They shot an unarmed pregnant lady for no reason,” she screamed outside the apartment complex. She said her daughter is expecting a boy and experienced labor pains Thursday night. “They better hope nothing happened to that baby,” the woman said. Reagan said he didn’t have an update on the woman’s condition. A neighbor, Jason Thompson, said it appeared the woman was shot in the arm or shoulder area. He said she was bleeding but conscious and alert after the shooting. Thompson said he saw the encounter as he was heading to his car, and believes the woman was unarmed. He said he didn’t know her name but that she appeared to be in her early 20s. Neighbor Carmen “Boots” Nelson said she and her stepson were inside her apartment when she heard a gunshot. Nelson said neither she nor her stepson heard officers yell commands before the shooting. “I heard one gunshot, a woman screamed and a man hollered out afterward,” Nelson said. “I’m upset a pregnant woman was shot. I believe she didn’t deserve it.” The shooting blocked the apartment parking lot and closed Sinto Avenue between Monroe and Lincoln Street for more than eight hours. Authorities did not identify the WSP detective sergeant who shot the woman but said he has been put on paid leave, which is standard procedure. The Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation under the “critical incident protocol” that calls for outside agencies to lead inquiries into officer-involved incidents. The incident is the second officer-involved shooting since a sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pastor Wayne Scott Creach on Aug. 25. Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel shot Creach, 74, in the chest after he said he struck the pastor with a baton. Hirzel said Creach refused commands and appeared to be grabbing his gun from his waistband. Then on Sept. 16, sheriff’s deputies shot an armed-assault suspect, Sean P. Houlihan, then told investigators Houlihan had opened fire on them, which the WSP says a witness confirmed. But in interviews with WSP detectives Tuesday, the deputies said Houlihan, 37, pointed a gun at Westlake but “indicated the possibility that Houlihan had not fired his weapon at officers,” according to court documents. Friday’s shooting involved members of multiagency Quad City Drug Task Force, which investigates drug dealing in Lewiston, Clarkston, Moscow and Pullman.