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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane man shot dead by police had drug-use history

Spokane police cars and crime-scene tape surround a house at the corner of Maple and Grace where a man was shot by officers Wednesday night. (Dan Pelle)
Spokane police cars and crime-scene tape surround a house at the corner of Maple and Grace where a man was shot by officers Wednesday night. (Dan Pelle)

A 30-year-old man shot and killed by Spokane police outside a home in northwest Spokane on Wednesday night had a history of drug use and was barred from owning a gun because of his criminal history, according to records.

Stephen C. Corkery was identified by the Spokane County medical examiner as the man shot multiple times following a standoff around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Corkery was armed with a gun when he walked out of a single-story structure and refused commands to disarm, according to police.

Investigators say Corkery was a suspect in at least one of a series of armed robberies in Spokane taking place since the beginning of March.

A video shot by a witness to the encounter and posted online shows a man walking out of the rental property at 1527 W. Grace Ave. Gunfire can be heard seconds after he steps out the door.

Neighbors said Thursday the house has visitors at all hours of the day. Officers arrested another person there just last week, they said. A man who answered the door at the home Thursday afternoon declined comment.

Spokane police Chief Frank Straub said Wednesday night officers had been in contact with a man inside the home who they believed to be involved in a robbery Tuesday at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop on North Monroe Street. Fearing for their safety and the safety of the community, Straub said, officers fired when the suspect did not comply with shouted commands to drop his gun.

Corkery’s alleged involvement in the armed robbery is not the first time he’s run afoul of the law, according to court records. His criminal history in Spokane County dates to 2000 and includes convictions for theft, malicious mischief and residential burglary but no violent crimes.

As part of a plea deal for multiple charges of burglary and trafficking in stolen property in June 2011, Corkery was ordered to attend substance abuse treatment. He was also barred from having contact with other drug offenders and ordered to not possess a gun during his probation, which was to last a little more than three years.

Investigators from the Spokane Investigative Regional Response team, who by protocol look into officer-involved shootings, recovered a handgun near Corkery at the scene. He was armed when he stepped out of the house, according to a news release from the Washington State Patrol, which is heading the investigation.

The WSP is the lead agency investigating three of four officer-involved shootings by Spokane County law enforcement so far this year. Spokane police officers shot Aaron Johnson outside Truth Ministries on Jan. 16, and a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office sniper shot fugitive Bonnie Ulrick at a Spokane Valley motel earlier this month. Both survived.

WSP Trooper Jeff Sevigney said Thursday that interviews have been completed in those cases and evidence is being tested at the state crime lab.

Corkery is the second man to die at the hands of county law enforcement so far this year. Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Afghanistan war veteran Jed Zillmer near Spokane Valley Mall on Feb. 11. The Spokane Police Department is the lead agency in that investigation.

Last year, five men died in confrontations with police. Prosecutors have cleared officers’ actions in all but one case: the death of Will Berger after he was shot with a stun gun and placed in a chokehold outside Oz Fitness on the South Hill in June.

Spokane police have responded to 11 armed robberies this month, according to the department. On Tuesday, a man matching Corkery’s description entered the ice cream shop on North Monroe, pointed a gun at a clerk and demanded cash, according to a news release. Spokane police detectives searched the Grace address after it was cleared by SIRR team investigators for evidence related to the robberies.

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