Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin — two men at the center of an officer-involved shooting in west Olympia two years ago — declined to testify in their defense Wednesday, the same day the prosecution and defense rested their cases.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday.
Thompson and Chaplin said little about their decision when asked by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Erik Price. He asked twice during the day if they stood by that decision and had conferred with attorneys about it. They said they had agreed not to testify.
Chaplin and Thompson face assault charges resulting from an alleged attack on Olympia police officer Ryan Donald, who was attempting to apprehend the brothers after responding to a report of thefts and an assault at a west Olympia supermarket.
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Both men were shot during the altercation with Donald, who was cleared of wrongdoing by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office and the Olympia Police Department.
Donald is not on trial, but spent more than 3 days on the witness stand testifying in this case.
Chaplin and Thompson each are charged with two counts of second-degree assault for the alleged attack on Donald. Chaplin faces one count of fourth-degree assault for an alleged assault on a Safeway employee.
The Prosecutor’s Office also filed theft charges against Thompson and Chaplin in October. Chaplin pleaded guilty March 27 to three counts of third-degree theft. Thompson still faced one count of third-degree theft until Tuesday, when defense attorney Sunni Ko successfully argued that there was insufficient evidence for that charge. The judge agreed and dismissed it.
Meanwhile, the defense called a forensic expert Kay Sweeney to the stand to offer testimony Wednesday and Prosecuting Attorney Wayne Graham did his best to discredit Sweeney of KMS Forensics. Through his questioning, Graham effectively called the owner of the Kirkland-based business old, out of touch and unqualified.
But Ko, who represents Thompson, continued to seek testimony that casts doubt on where officer Donald was in relation to his patrol vehicle and the direction he pointed his firearm May 21, 2015, the day of the shooting.
Under cross-examination, Sweeney acknowledged as much.
“(Ko) gave me some information, and what she described as having happened, and how it didn’t make sense to her,” Sweeney said about the shooting.
Ko on Wednesday showed a photo of Chaplin after he was shot several times and lay on Cooper Point Road.
She wanted to know why there was no blood flow down the front or back of his body.
What did that indicate?
Sweeney said it was an indication that he was shot in a position other than upright.
Attorney Graham countered that testimony by attacking Sweeney’s qualifications.
Graham: “Other than a degree in chemistry, do you have any other formal education to expand into forensic science?”
Graham: “Is your lab accredited?”
Graham: “Are you a certified crime scene reconstructionist through the International Association of Identification?”
Graham: “Are you a crime scene reconstructionist through any association?”
And on it went.
At one point, Graham’s questioning led to Sweeney providing a theory of how the shooting occurred, including that Donald allegedly fired a shot at Chaplin while on the ground, put another magazine into his gun and “racked his pistol” (put a round in the chamber), which affected his aim and resulted in bullets hitting a window and fence.
Graham appeared to draw a rebuke from fellow prosecutor Scott Jackson for letting that happen. Graham covered by asking if Sweeney’s scenario was based on any materials reviewed in the case. He replied that it was not.
Later, George Trejo, Chaplin’s defense attorney, asked Sweeney if Donald’s rendition of the shooting made scientific sense?
“The rendition I’m aware of doesn’t fit the evidence,” Sweeney said.