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

Spokane police release body camera footage in three officer shootings

Aug. 18, 2021 Updated Thu., Aug. 19, 2021 at 12:08 p.m.

Washington State Patrol troopers stand near the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Rodeway Inn at Broadway Avenue and Eastern Street on Sept. 11, 2020.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Washington State Patrol troopers stand near the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Rodeway Inn at Broadway Avenue and Eastern Street on Sept. 11, 2020. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Spokane Police Department released body camera footage Wednesday of three incidents where officers shot people in 2020.

On Aug. 7, 2020, Officers Dale Harvey and Christopher Johnson shot and injured 29-year-old Jonathan Buttrom during a standoff. Buttrom was suspected of robbery.

On Sept. 11, Officer Juan Rodrigues shot and killed Joshua Clayton Brant during an exchange of gunfire in the parking lot of the Rodeway Inn and Suites in Spokane Valley.

A few weeks later on Sept. 24, Cpl. Shane Oien and Sgt. Zachary Dahl shot and killed Erik Mahoney in the parking lot of the Bell Motel in Airway Heights. Mahoney drew a gun from his waistband as the officers attempted to arrest him for an outstanding warrant and two violent domestic violence incidents. The gun was stolen and loaded with 12 rounds of ammunition.

After each shooting the Spokane Independent Investigative Response Team was called to complete an investigation into the use of deadly force.

Spokane Police Department

All three investigations were then turned over to Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Haskell for review. Haskell found the officers were justified in using deadly force in each incident.

The Spokane County prosecutor’s office has not found issue with any deadly use of force in the county since 2013. Last year, there were eight police shootings in Spokane County.

So far in 2021, Spokane police have fired their weapons twice.

After the city prosecutor reviews the investigation, the police department opens an internal investigation to review if the use of force was within department policy, said Spokane police Capt. Thomas Hendren. The department said it released the body camera footage to the public shortly after the independent investigation in an effort to be transparent. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department faced delays in the process and decided to release the footage for all 2020 shootings at once, Hendrin said.

Frantic confrontation

At the end of July, a pair of armed robbers held employees at three different stores at gunpoint before stealing cellphones. Police believed that Buttrom, who had a Department of Corrections warrant for his arrest, was one of the robbers.

An officer safety bulletin was issued stating Buttrom was armed and dangerous and discouraging patrol officers from searching for the suspect.

Police located Buttrom on the evening of Aug. 7 at the intersection of North Crestline Street and East Courtland Avenue in a car driven by an unidentified person.

Police surrounded Buttrom, and the person driving got out of the car while Buttrom remained inside.

Buttrom put a gun to his own head and can be seen frantically yelling at officers in the body camera footage.

Sgt. Brent Austin’s body camera was the only one that captured the shooting, both Harvey and Johnson did not have body cameras on. Only patrol officers at the Spokane Police Department are required to wear body cameras, however, the department said they are currently expanding which officers are required to wear the cameras.

In the body camera footage, Buttrom can be seen swiveling back and forth in his seat, and hoarsely yelling at officers.

Austin can be heard telling Buttrom: “I want you to take a couple of deep breaths, OK?” And then “There’s no reason to do this dude.”

Buttrom at one point yells he wants to die.

At one point Buttrom starts counting down with the gun pointed at his own head, but Austin is able to interject and Buttrom responds.

After a few minutes, Buttrom pulls the gun away from his head, and Harvey and Johnson shoot him.

Buttrom can be heard saying “can you please CPR me?” and “shot me in my heart, I got asthma.” Officers provided first aid and Buttrom was taken to a local hospital.

Buttrom survived his injuries and pled guilty to robbing the cellphone stores as well as charges related to the police standoff. He was sentenced to serve more than 13 years in prison.

First officer shot in 37 years

On Sept. 10, Airway Heights police responded to a carjacking, which turned into a car chase that had to be abandoned when it became dangerous.

The Patrol Anti-Crime Team began looking for the suspects, one of whom was believed to be Brant. An officer spotted the truck and followed Brant into the Rodeway Inn parking lot.

Rodrigues’ body camera footage shows it was just seconds later that Brant got out of his vehicle and began running. Rodrigues jumped out of his vehicle and followed.

Seconds later, Rodrigues said Brant shot at him, and he returned fire, killing Brant.

It’s difficult to determine who fired first based solely on the body camera footage but investigators found two casings from Brant’s .357 Ruger.

One of those shots went through Rodrigues’ leg, wounding him. He is the first Spokane police officer to be shot since Brian Orchard was killed during a 1983 stakeout.

Repeat domestic violence suspect

Erik “Ace” Mahoney, 43, was suspected of committing two violent assaults against an ex-girlfriend, including striking her with a gun.

An officer safety alert was issued because Mahoney had reportedly made statements in the past about suicide by police . He had nine prior felonies and an active warrant for arrest.

On Sept. 24, officers found Mahoney at the Bell Motel in Airway Heights. They responded in plain clothes to do surveillance, Hendrin said Wednesday.

While talking to the manager of the motel, Mahoney walked by and entered an RV in the parking lot. Officers called for backup. As backup arrived, Mahoney exited the RV and walked toward Dahl.

Dahl then got out of his vehicle and ordered Mahoney to get on the ground. Mahoney pulled a handgun out of his waistband.

That’s when Dahl fired at Mahoney. Cpl. Oien who had been watching the situation unfold also fired multiple shots, hitting Mahoney.

In the body camera footage, officers offer Mahoney first aid . At one point he says, “Oh God, help me,” and then later “Everywhere, I’m shot everywhere.”

Mahoney was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

The investigation showed Dahl fired five shots and Oien fired 3. Investigators recovered a Glock G2C 9mm handgun that had been previously reported stolen near Mahoney’s body.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the circumstances in which Officer Brian Orchard died.

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