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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Police release body camera footage of December 2017 shooting of 36-year-old robbery suspect

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 23, 2019

Spokane police have released body camera footage of the December 2017 officer-involved shooting of Joshua P. Spotted Horse after concluding the use of deadly force fell within department policy.

The 36-year-old suspect was shot and killed in the West Central neighborhood the day after Christmas when officers tracked him from an armed robbery at the Safeway store at 1616 W. Northwest Blvd., where an employee said he stuck a gun in her back and demanded she hand over cash from a register. He then drove away, but not before firing a round in the store’s parking lot.

Minutes later, he was involved in a short vehicle chase with police before ditching his car and running from officers near Sharp Avenue and Madison Street. There, video indicates he turned toward Officer Chris LeQuire and reached for his waistband before the officer fired.

In March, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office ruled the shooting justified and elected not to file criminal charges against LeQuire. A recently completed internal Spokane Police Department review found the shooting to be “within department policy,” police Capt. Brad Arleth said.

The video of the shooting, released to the media Wednesday following a presentation led by Arleth, shows the shooting from LeQuire’s body camera, which was switched on just as he began chasing the suspect with several other officers.

In the video, LeQuire can be seen chasing Spotted Horse with his pistol drawn as he shouts demands for LeQuire to show his hands, to which Spotted Horse appears to say, “Bring it.”

Seconds later, the 36-year-old suspect stops in the middle of the street and turns toward LeQuire, who keeps his flashlight trained on him. Moments later, the officer fires four times, striking Spotted Horse twice in the chest and once in the left bicep and right hand, according to an autopsy report. Spotted Horse, who was unarmed, then drops to the ground.

Speaking to media, Arleth said when LeQuire fired, the suspect began reaching toward his waistband as he raised his hands in a “bladed stance,” or firing position. Information relayed to police before the incident indicated Spotted Horse was likely armed.

“When he turned around and faced the officer, he made a motion as if he was reaching for a handgun,” Arleth said. “The other officers who were present also articulated that they were certain that Spotted Horse was going to draw a weapon and shoot at them.”

While Spotted Horse did not have a weapon at the time of shooting, video surveillance from Safeway showed a handgun in his right hand. And upon searching a home on Jefferson Street where Spotted Horse left the car used during the robbery, police reportedly found a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. The shell casing found in the parking lot was a 9 mm round.

Arleth said Spotted Horse was able to take $300 in cash. A toxicology report showed Spotted Horse had amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system when he died. He also had a blood-alcohol level of 0.17.

LeQuire, who has been with the Spokane Police Department for five years, was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting in April 2016 outside of the House of Charity. Video showed LeQuire reasoning with Mark Kurtz, who had a knife and was shouting at officers to kill him, before firing his Taser. It failed, which is when another officer shot and killed Kurtz.

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