Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane officer who shot at man on Saturday has been involved in 4 other shootings

Officer Daniel Lesser was named as the officer who shot, but did not hit, a fleeing man who has a replica gun on Saturday. (Courtesy of the Spokane Police Department)
By Kip Hill and Will Campbell The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Police Department named the officer Tuesday who shot at a fleeing man wielding a replica gun on the lower South Hill on Saturday.

The officer, Daniel Lesser, was placed on paid leave following the shooting, said Sgt. Terry Preuninger, Spokane police spokesman.

Lesser has come under scrutiny before for using force on the job.

He has been involved in at least four other police shootings dating back to 2003, three of which ended in a fatality. He is under an internal affairs investigation for his role in a February incident involving a police dog.

Lesser has not been subject to any criminal charges resulting from his conduct.

At about 3 p.m. Saturday, Lesser went to a location where he thought he might find Charles Edward Jackson Jr., 46, who was wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service for illegal possession of a firearm.

Near Sixth Avenue and Maple Street, Lesser found a man matching Jackson’s description. Jackson fled after seeing Lesser, prompting a foot chase, according to Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl.

At some point, Jackson allegedly flashed what appeared to be a gun, and Lesser fired multiple shots but did not hit Jackson. Jackson escaped from sight.

Lesser found Jackson a short time later and arrested him. No one was hurt. Officers said Jackson was in possession of “what appeared to be a replica” of a firearm, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

An investigation found that Jackson wrote on social media that he would not go back to prison, that he was armed and that he wouldn’t be taken alive, according to a news release from the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team.

Investigators are reviewing officers’ body camera footage of Saturday’s shooting.

Jackson appeared in the U.S. Federal Courthouse on Monday in Spokane, where a federal judge ordered him to stay in U.S. Marshals Service custody and also denied a request from Jackson to return to Montana.

Lesser was one of two officers involved in an arrest in February that is now part of an internal affairs investigation. In that arrest, Lesser placed his police dog through the window of a truck to subdue a man who had led police on a chase through the East Central Neighborhood.

Police Ombudsman Bart Logue urged city officials to “thoroughly investigate” the incident, and Spokane City Council members requested to review body camera footage of the arrest. When told they would need to sign a nondisclosure agreement to view video of the arrest, which also involved Dan Lesser’s nephew, Scott, council members declined.

Meidl said in May that both Lessers were working patrol while the internal affairs investigation was completed and that body camera footage would be released publicly after that investigation ended.

Lesser has been involved in multiple police shootings dating back to 2003, according to Spokesman-Review records. Three of those shootings ended in a fatality, and after review from prosecutors did not lead to any criminal charges.

In May 2013, Lesser was one of three officers who shot 21-year-old Justin Cairns, a suspect in a murder. Cairns reportedly told police to shoot him and reached for an item in his waistband before officers fired, according to court documents.

Two years earlier, Lesser was the lone officer who shot and killed James E. Rogers, 45, following a police chase. Rogers had fired a shotgun in a parking lot on the South Hill and remained armed during a standoff, but the investigation that cleared Lesser of criminal wrongdoing in that case was challenged by the family in a lawsuit, which the city settled for $175,000.

In 2009, Lesser shot and killed a suspected car thief, Johnnie L. Longest, who fired a gun at officers and shot a police dog. Lesser shot Longest once in the back.

The Chief Deputy Criminal Prosecutor at the time, Jack Driscoll, said the shooting was justified because Longest’s line of fire included pedestrians, officers and the dog that was shot in the paw and had a bullet graze its head.

Lesser was also one of several officers who shot and injured Sean Fitzpatrick, a 16-year-old Lewis and Clark High School student who’d brought a gun to school and threatened other students. Fitzpatrick survived.

Lesser joined the Spokane Police Department in 1995 and served as a patrolman until 2001, when he joined the the department’s K-9 unit. He also served as a member of the SWAT team for 16 years, according to the news release.

Editor’s note: This story was changed on July 10, 2019 to correct the relationship between Scott and Dan Lesser.