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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Court records: Cheney police shooting victim called 911 on himself as part of planned suicide by cop

Sept. 17, 2018 Updated Mon., Sept. 17, 2018 at 6:10 p.m.

FILE – Cheney police officers shot and killed a man on Sept. 3, 2018 after he moved toward officers with a knife at the Mitchell’s Harvest Foods in Cheney, Washington, police said. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Cheney police officers shot and killed a man on Sept. 3, 2018 after he moved toward officers with a knife at the Mitchell’s Harvest Foods in Cheney, Washington, police said. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A knife-wielding man who was shot by three Cheney police officers in early September died as part of his plan to have police kill him, recently released court records show.

Steve L. Anderson, 40, reportedly called 911 on himself on the evening of Sept. 3, saying that he needed help as a khaki-jacket-wearing, red-bearded man holding a knife frightened people at the Mitchell’s Harvest Foods, at 116 W. First Street, in Cheney. Minutes later, officers would arrive and shoot Anderson multiple times as he moved toward them, killing him.

In a search warrant filed Thursday in Spokane County Superior Court, Detective Larry McGill with the Washington State Patrol wrote that upon searching Anderson, investigators found a notepad that recounted recent attempts at suicide by mixing drugs and alcohol. It also detailed his plans to have police kill him.

“I’m going to do it,” he wrote on the pad, according to court records. “I’ll call 911 on myself stating that a deranged man, fitting my description, is waving a knife. Mitchell’s Grocery is where I will die. I won’t give the cops another option. I really hope nobody else gets hurt.”

In another note, he asks investigators to “ping” his phone, which matches the same phone number used to dial 911.

“I’m the guy that’s dead,” he reportedly wrote on the notepad. “To the officer, or officers, or Sheriff Dept., thank you. Please go away from this with a clear conscience. You did your job. And you ended a bad day that has lasted 40 years.”

A day after his death, Anderson’s friend John Wilson created a GoFundMe campaign aimed at raising money for a memorial service. Any remaining funds would go toward a savings bond for his two children.

Witnesses who live near Mitchell’s reported hearing and seeing police searching the rear of the grocery store before driving to the front. In his alleged call to police, Anderson reported he was at the rear of the building, and McGill notes in his warrant that it sounds like a “struggle was heard as if the caller was being attacked.”

Rebecca Pettingill, an Eastern Washington University student who was working at Mitchell’s at the time of the shooting, said in an interview that she and her coworkers were unaware Anderson was even outside before hearing multiple gunshots from the front of the building. She said he came in to the store earlier that day to buy cigarettes and he “didn’t cause any problems.”

“We weren’t aware of anything,” she said. “Nobody was in the store right before hand. We had no idea if he had been in or not.”

At least one of the officers’ bullets pierced through the building and became lodged in the ceiling above one of the store workers’ , Pettingill said.

Last week, investigators identified the police officers involved in the shooting as Officers Zebulon Campbell and Nicole Burbridge and reserve officer Nicholas Horn. They remain on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.

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