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

Cheney police officers won’t face charges in death of man who investigators say was attempting suicide-by-cop

UPDATED: Mon., April 1, 2019

Cheney police officers shot and killed Steven L. Anderson on Sept. 3, 2018 after he moved toward officers with a knife at the Mitchell’s Harvest Foods in Cheney. The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office announced April 1, 2019 that officers who fired at Anderson would not face charges. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Cheney police officers shot and killed Steven L. Anderson on Sept. 3, 2018 after he moved toward officers with a knife at the Mitchell’s Harvest Foods in Cheney. The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office announced April 1, 2019 that officers who fired at Anderson would not face charges. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane County prosecutors have elected not to file criminal charges against three Cheney police officers who shot and killed a man late last year during an alleged suicide by cop.

Steven L. Anderson, 40, reportedly called 911 on himself on the evening of Sept. 3, 2018, 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 arrived and shot Anderson multiple times as he moved toward them, killing him.

After searching his body, 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 a news release sent Monday morning, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office announced that Officers Nicole Burbridge, Zeb Campbell and Reserve Officer Nick Horn were justified in their use of deadly force.

When officers arrived sometime after Anderson reportedly called 911 at around 11:45 p.m., they found him at the front of the store moving slowly toward them with a knife in his hand while yelling to “just shoot me,” according to the news release. All three officers fired after Anderson “continued to advance and ignored the commands.”

Cheney police do not wear body cameras. The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Anderson died of “multiple gunshot wounds.”

Workers at Mitchell’s reported not hearing or seeing Anderson outside of the store until police started firing. One bullet pierced the store’s front wall, becoming lodged in the ceiling above a worker’s head.

John Wilson, a friend of Anderson’s, set up a GoFundMe campaign shortly after the shooting. Wilson described his friend as a father of two who “always stuck up for the little guy.”

“When you needed someone in your corner, he was there,” Wilson wrote.

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