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Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Footage released of knife-wielding man shot by police last year

UPDATED: Thu., April 5, 2018, 9:40 p.m.

An image captured from a police body camera in May 2017 shows Terrence Wallette running across a road holding a knife. Wallette suffered multiple self-inflicted stab wounds before he was shot by police. (Spokane Police Department)
An image captured from a police body camera in May 2017 shows Terrence Wallette running across a road holding a knife. Wallette suffered multiple self-inflicted stab wounds before he was shot by police. (Spokane Police Department)

Spokane police released body camera footage Thursday showing the nonfatal shooting of 30-year-old Terrence Wallette last year.

Wallette, who was shot multiple times by three officers after repeatedly stabbing himself, asked police to shoot him and ran at officers with a knife, was shot near Gonzaga Prep on May 7 after escaping from Providence Holy Family Hospital.

He was treated for multiple gunshot and stab wounds, though police said medical personnel couldn’t distinguish between the two sets of wounds. Police said Thursday they were certain he was hit at least four times: in the abdomen, right arm, left side of the chest, and left wrist.

He was charged with multiple counts of assault in June.

The body camera footage shows the tail-end of a minuteslong altercation as officers surround Wallette at about 6 p.m. in the area of Fairview Avenue and Perry Street in north Spokane near Gonzaga Prep. A shirtless Wallette can be seen running from officers with a knife raised, bleeding from self-inflicted stab wounds to his left wrist and abdomen.

He runs away and, at times, toward Officer John Yen, who is one of the last officers to get out of his vehicle, then begins running south along Perry Street, where several officers attempted to deploy Tasers. After a short chase, Lt. Dave McCabe and officers Ron VanTassel and Julian Cedeno fire their pistols, striking Wallette, who stops and falls to the ground.

The knife is kicked away and police begin to provide medical attention.

Spokane police Capt. Brad Arleth, speaking at a news conference Thursday, said the department’s internal investigation was completed late last month. The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the shooting justified in July.

About an hour before the shooting, Wallette had barricaded himself in his room at Holy Family, where he had checked himself in to get medication for attention deficit disorder. Hospital surveillance video shows Wallette close and lock the door on hospital staff, and then leave with a knife in his right hand.

The hospital, Arleth said, did not notify police that Wallette had escaped with a weapon. He said the information could have been critical to officers who responded later when Wallette was out of his car and running at bystanders.

Wallette’s criminal history includes seven felony convictions, most of them related to assault. Arleth said he’s had at least three violent run-ins with police. In 2013, he threatened to cut a woman’s neck if police didn’t drop their weapons.

At about 5:45 p.m. the day of the incident, a man reported Wallette driving on the wrong side of the road and attempting to hit him with the vehicle in the 800 block of East Lacrosse Avenue. Fifteen minutes later McCabe put out a radio call of a man attempting to elude police on Perry Street. Minutes later, he was out of his car and running toward people in the neighborhood.

During parts of the altercation with police, a concerned homeowner in the area recorded a video from her front window. The man can be heard repeatedly yelling at police to shoot him. As more officers arrive, he begins stabbing himself and then runs toward Perry Street.

Arleth said it’s possible the shooting could have been avoided, had the officers known of his criminal history and mental health issues. But he also questioned whether Wallette should have been left alone given his violent past.

“Some of the suspects, particularly those who have significant drug, alcohol or mental health issues, are not stabilized, or not amenable to participating in the system or getting better,” he said. “This started out with a subject who checked out of a hospital room and then left and then ended up having a violent confrontation with police.”

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