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

He chased Kennewick police in a Jeep and tried to hit them. Now he’s heading to prison

July 8, 2022 Updated Fri., July 8, 2022 at 10:31 p.m.

By Cameron Probert Tri-City Herald Tri-City Herald

KENNEWICK – A Kennewick man said he doesn’t remember chasing police cars or trying to run an officer over, but he was willing to face punishment for the crimes.

Richard E. Cook, 33, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree assault and one count each of attempted second-degree assault, attempting to elude police, hit-and run and malicious mischief.

Judge Norma Rodriguez agreed to a joint recommendation from the prosecutor’s office and Cook’s defense attorney, and sentenced Cook to the maximum end of the range – three years and seven months in prison.

He’ll also be required to pay at least $26,000 in restitution to the city of Kennewick for a string of wrecked vehicles he left behind.

His attorney, Shelley Ajax, said Cook is normally a caring and loving man, and that night was out of character for the recent transplant from Idaho.

She said he doesn’t have any memory of the events that led up to him being shot by Officer Dylan Markley, but is willing to take responsibility for the crimes.

According to blood samples taken shortly after his rampage, Cook had a combination of amphetamine, methamphetamine, norfentanyl and the sedative hydroxymidazolam in his system.

While Cook may not remember the events of Oct. 15 and 16, Deputy Prosecutor Julie Long said they have had left a lasting impact on the officers. Cook allegedly chased down and crashed into police cars, forcing officers to shut off their emergency lights.

“They were terrified,” she told Rodriguez during Cook’s sentencing on Wednesday. “They were afraid that they were going to be killed.”

Cook was arrested after the Tri-City Regional SWAT team pulled him out of the white Jeep he was driving on 10th Avenue. The Jeep had 18 bullet holes, according to a Washington State Patrol Crime Lab report.

Following the shooting, the Tri-City Regional Special Investigations Unit was brought in to investigate whether the shooting was legal.

The unit is called in to investigate officer-involved shootings in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties. They completed their investigation in February 2022. The report was forwarded to Prosecutor Andy Miller.

Miller wasn’t available to say what the status of his review is.

The Tri-City Herald obtained a copy of the finished report through a public records request.

Hit and run

While Cook had spent the last two or three years in and out of Latah County Jail in Idaho, he had stayed out of trouble with local police after moving to the Tri-Cities in August 2021.

His behavior started to change in the weeks before the Cook’s rampage, including appearing to use fentanyl, according to a summary of the unit’s investigation by Pasco Capt. Jeff Harpster.

Then on Oct. 15, 2021, the Kennewick Police Department began to get reports related to a white Jeep, which belonged to Cook’s grandmother. He was allowed to use it to go to work.

The first reports started at 2:30 p.m. when people called about it swerving and cutting people off.

Then at 8:30 p.m., a woman called to report that a white Jeep followed her from the area of Costco. He continued to trail her through several parking lots until she confronted him in the parking lot for Ross Dress for Less.

Then just before midnight, officers spotted the white Jeep after they responded to a hit-and-run collision in the area of East Columbia Drive and North Washington Street. The Jeep was trying to leave. Two officers tried to stop it, but it eluded them.

Cook’s rampage started after police received another report just after 4 a.m. on Oct. 16 of an intoxicated driver swerving across the road as it headed west on 10th Avenue near Edison Street.

A police officer spotted the Jeep as it pulled into the driveway of Legacy High School and stopped. The officer drove past it and confirmed it was the same Jeep they were looking for.

As he did that, Cook allegedly slammed the car into reverse and aimed at the officer’s car. Only quick action prevented him from colliding with the Jeep.

Targeting officers

The officer pulled into the parking lot of the Grace Baptist Church and parked. He saw the Jeep pull into the parking lot and it slammed into the back of his patrol vehicle.

The officer turned on his overhead lights, and the Jeep hit the car again.

The force of the impact was enough to move it about 2 feet, according to court documents.

This began a series of events where Cook chased Kennewick police cars, and tried to hit them with his vehicle, according to Harpster’s report.

At that point, an officer alerted all responding vehicles to turn off their emergency lights “as it appeared (Cook) was targeting them with his vehicle,” court documents said.

Markley was parked in the Grace Baptist Church parking lot next to another officer after that officer reported his vehicle was rammed. The officer was working on deploying spike strikes.

Markley got out of his patrol car carrying his rifle and saw the white Jeep heading east on 10th Avenue. It swerved, jumped the curb and drove between a tree and a fence.

Cook steered straight at him and the officer fired his rifle at the driver. He got out of the way of the Jeep before it hit his patrol vehicle.

Cook then backed up, hit a tree and then aimed the Jeep at Markley again. The officer fired a second time.

The Jeep then veered away.

He finally stopped his Jeep on 10th Avenue and stayed inside, ignoring commands from police. He was arrested by Tri-City Regional SWAT team at 5:50 a.m..

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