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

Police say new legislative changes handcuffed officers from quickly capturing suspect on Wednesday

The Spokane Police Department said that new legislative changes enacted last week prevented its officers from quickly apprehending a domestic violence suspect on Wednesday.

The officers responded to an assault call in the area of 3400 West Queen Avenue, which reported that a male was grabbing a female and attempting to pull her from a vehicle. The call also detailed that she was screaming for help and bleeding.

When police arrived to the scene, they saw a female and male, now identified as 18-year-old Nathan Beeman, matching the description but no assault was occurring at that moment. Beeman started walking away when he saw the officers.

According to a police department press release, officers had reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred and that Beeman was the suspect. 

Since July 25, police reform laws established that officers need probable cause in order to use force in potential domestic violence incidents. Prior to these laws coming into effect, reasonable suspicion was enough to detain a potential suspect.

The press release says that, because of the new laws, police had to allow Beeman to leave the area.

Officers eventually established probable cause after taking investigate steps such as speaking to the victim and potential witnesses, but police said the delay gave Beeman ample time to attempt to escape from officers.

Two K-9 units and more than a dozen additional patrol officers were used to establish a perimeter and eventually arrest Beeman, who ran from police, jumped fences and traversed through neighborhood yards in his attempt to escape, according to the press release. 

Because domestic violence can create escalating and repeated violence for victims, police said it will use significant resources to catch suspects.

But, the press release suggests that more resources would not have been needed if officers were allowed to detain Beeman immediately, as they could have done before the new laws came into effect.

Police eventually arrested Beeman on suspicion of domestic violence order violation and obstructing. 

The new legislation also played a big role in a 9-hour standoff with a domestic violence suspect last Monday, according to a separate press release from the police department.

41-year-old Richard Howard was found by police at a residence he was barred from due to a domestic violence-related court order. He became engaged in a lengthy standoff with police after a female and child were able to get out of the home.

Howard had a machete and made it “apparent he desired a violent encounter,” according to the press release.

Police said that aspects of the new legislation including required authority to use force, de-escalation tactics and using the least amount of force necessary obliged them to work for 9 hours to find a non-violent outcome.

The press release notes the amount of time and manpower these calls can now take that officers are required to go through these steps.

Police were able to negotiate Howard’s peaceful surrender and took him into custody.

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