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

54-year-old man gets 34 years in prison for firing at Spokane County deputy, fleeing, then crashing downtown

John DeFord, of K&H Facility Services, center, walks through the rubble after a vehicle crashed into a wall three bricks deep at the corner of Second Avenue and Lincoln Street, Thursday morning, Aug. 3, 2023, in Spokane. The police chase started in Airway Heights. The driver was arrested at the scene and multiple police cars were reported damaged.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Robert Talley had multiple drugs and alcohol in his system when he fired a weapon at a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputy before fleeing the wrong way on Interstate 90 and crashing through a downtown Spokane brick wall last summer.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Julie McKay said his drug and alcohol use was no excuse for his actions and sentenced him Friday to nearly 34 years in prison, a potential life sentence given Talley is 54 years old.

“The frustrating part here is it could have been avoided had you opted not to continue a life of substance abuse which put you in this position,” McKay said.

A jury found Talley guilty last month of attempted premeditated first-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, attempt to elude police and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

Evann Flanagan, the deputy targeted who attended Friday’s hearing, testified at trial he was following a black SUV in Airway Heights that had stolen plates.

The SUV sped away from Flanagan, driving into oncoming traffic and almost crashing head-on with another police car, Flanagan said. He stopped his pursuit for the safety of others and began patrolling the area until he saw the same SUV parked near Longhorn BBQ at 7611 W. Sunset Highway, just to the north of the Geiger Arms apartments.

He saw the suspect, identified as Talley, trying to flee from his patrol car.

Flanagan said he rounded a corner and saw Talley standing there in his “shooting stance,” saw a muzzle flash and called for backup. No rounds hit him or his car.

Flanagan said he did not return fire at Talley.

Court documents say Talley got back into the SUV and fled from law enforcement east on Highway 2 and then the wrong way on I-90 before driving through the Divine’s 76 gas station parking lot on the corner of Second Avenue and Lincoln Street and crashing through a wall of an old brick garage owned by Washington Trust Bank.

Flanagan called being shot at “the most scary moment of my career.”

Talley’s attorney, Kyle Zeller, said Talley had no recollection at a “certain point” that night, and his actions were “completely out of character.” Most of his 20-plus felony convictions are property crimes that show a life of drug addiction, Zeller said.

“Talley’s been very grateful no one got seriously hurt in this incident,” Zeller said. “He never wanted to hurt law enforcement.”

Zeller asked Talley not to give a statement, knowing he plans to appeal the convictions.

Still, Talley, wearing yellow Spokane County Jail clothing, stood and apologized to the families involved and hoped for forgiveness.

McKay noted Talley’s “extensive” criminal history and took issue with Talley’s lack of action to take advantage of community resources to get sober so these crimes wouldn’t happen.

McKay chose to sentence Talley to nearly 26 years in prison – the low end of the standard sentence range for the attempted murder charge – plus eight years in weapon enhancements.

She said she chose the low end sentence because of Talley’s age.