A Stevens County sheriff’s corporal will not face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of an armed 29-year-old in August.
Cpl. David Reed fired a fatal shot that struck Jason Hale in the head after being assaulted and fearing for his life, wrote Stevens County Deputy Prosecutor Peter Palubicki in his decision not to charge Reed with any crimes.
However, at least one witness continues to dispute the prosecutor’s version of events.
“Cpl. Reed had no other reasonable choice than to protect himself from the threat presented to him by Jason Hale,” Palubicki wrote.
Hale was shot following a domestic dispute that took place on the evening of Aug. 19. A raging fire that would eventually scorch nearly 64,000 acres of rural Stevens County knocked out computer access and confused law enforcement in the area, according to Palubicki’s report. Hale was chased on foot into downtown Hunters, a town of roughly 300 residents, where he grabbed Reed’s arms near a patrol car.
Witness accounts differed on what happened next, according to Palubicki’s report. At least two civilian witnesses reported Reed shot Hale in the back, but the autopsy showed the single fatal bullet “entered the left side of Hale’s jaw and stopped near his right ear,” Palubicki wrote.
Reed said he shot when Hale pulled a handgun from his waistband. The first shot missed, and Hale turned his body, with his left side facing Reed, according to Palubicki’s report. When Hale began lifting the gun again, Reed fired the fatal shot. Another deputy yelled Hale had shot himself, according to Palubicki’s report.
Palubicki dismissed the accounts of the three civilian witnesses because they contained details that weren’t supported by physical evidence. One said that Hale was holding a cellphone instead of a gun. Another said three shots had been fired, instead of two. A third witness reported seeing five deputies, when only three were present.
Annette Herbert, a Hunters-area resident who witnessed the shooting, said Hale was walking away when he was shot in the back and had nothing in his hands. However, according to Palubicki, Herbert was too far away to properly see and had her back turned to Hale during the shooting.
“I didn’t figure he was going to get charged,” Herbert said. “You know it’s the good old boys club.”
Herbert disputes Palubicki’s report and said her back was not turned when the shooting occurred.
Four live rounds were found in a .38 revolver Hale was carrying that was reported stolen. A felony warrant had been issued for Hale’s arrest at the time of the shooting.
Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen signed off on Palubicki’s decision not to pursue criminal charges in the shooting.
Staff writer Eli Francovich contributed to this report.
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