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Tuesday, April 7, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Prosecutor will not file charges in October police shooting of armed, suicidal man

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 7, 2020

Officers investigate the scene of a shooting at the 3400 block of East Garnet Avenue on Wednesday, October 23. The officer was justified in shooting the man, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office determined Tuesday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Officers investigate the scene of a shooting at the 3400 block of East Garnet Avenue on Wednesday, October 23. The officer was justified in shooting the man, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office determined Tuesday. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office determined Tuesday a Spokane police officer was justified in shooting an armed, suicidal man in October.

An investigation found David Shafer was armed with an unloaded semi-automatic pistol when Officer Caleb Martin shot and killed him, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement Tuesday.

Martin responded to reports of an armed suicidal man at 3414 E. Garnet Ave. on the afternoon of Oct. 23.

Friends of the 61-year-old Shafer called 911 after Shafer was uncooperative with their attempts to disarm him. While the friends initially succeeded in disarming Shafer, he ran back to his home, where they knew he had more guns.

Shafer had a history of attempting suicide, according to police.

Martin was the first officer to respond to the scene, where he saw Shafer on the front steps of his house. Martin walked back toward the intersection of North Ferrall Street and East Garnet Avenue to talk to the 911 caller.

Martin overheard a phone call in which Shafer told his friends he was holding a gun and waiting for police to arrive, according to the prosecutor’s office.

That’s when Shafer walked from the steps of the house across the street and then west toward North Thor Street while pointing his gun at nearby houses, the prosecutor’s office said.

Martin took cover near two parked cars about 40 yards east of Shafer and shouted for him to drop the gun. Shafer then raised the gun and pointed it at Martin, the prosecutor’s statement said. Martin fired two rounds at Shafer who fell to the ground and dropped the gun.

Shortly after Martin fired, officers Jamie Pavlischak and Dan Cole arrived on scene. Officers began life-saving measures on Shafer. Medics took over when they arrived, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators determined Shafer was armed with an unloaded .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

The prosecutor’s office cited Shafer’s refusal of commands to drop the weapon and aiming the gun at Martin as justification for the deadly use of force.

The officers on scene, including Martin, had their body cameras turned on during the incident, according to the Spokane Investigative Regional Response team.

Martin returned to his patrol duties after completing standard procedures following a deadly use of force, including seeing a mental health professional. He has been on the police force since July 2016 and received three letters of commendation, according to Sgt. Terry Preuninger.

Martin was one of the officers who shot and killed Daniel Craven in 2017. His use of force in that incident was also found to be justified by the prosecutor.

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