Demonstrators angry about the charging decisions in the May 21 officer-involved shooting staged a sit-in Tuesday at the Thurston County prosecutor’s office.
About 20 people filed into the Thurston County Courthouse just after 8 a.m. and demanded a meeting with Prosecutor Jon Tunheim.
Olympia resident Caro Gonzales said she and the other demonstrators planned to stay at the courthouse all day — or until Tunheim agreed to drop the assault charges filed last week against Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson.
However, the protesters left about 11 a.m. with plans to return Wednesday morning.
Never miss a local story.
The goal is for the charges to be dropped before the Olympia men are arraigned on Sept. 22, Gonzales said.
“We have 15 days,” Gonzales said. “We want to get this done in 15 days.”
Tunheim announced Sept. 2 that Olympia police Officer Ryan Donald wouldn’t face criminal charges for shooting Chaplin and Thompson during the May altercation.
Donald had been searching for suspects in an attempted theft and assault at the west Olympia Safeway when he located the two men on the 1200 block of Cooper Point Road. Donald said he shot the men when they threatened him with their skateboards, according to the police investigation report.
Chaplin and Thompson are facing second-degree assault charges in the alleged attack with the skateboards.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Toynbee told the demonstrators Tuesday that Tunheim wasn’t in the office, but he would be willing to schedule a meeting for later in the week.
A meeting between the demonstrators and Tunheim was set for 10 a.m. Friday at the courthouse, in building one, room 152.
Toynbee said members of the community will have a chance to address Tunheim at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St. NW.
But Gonzales said her group doesn’t to wait that long.
“Justice won’t wait until Friday, so neither will we,” Gonzales said.
Merrill Williams, a member of the group Full Circle United, said Tuesday’s sit-in was intended to be a peaceful demonstration that would launch a dialogue with Tunheim about the charges.
“They just don’t make sense,” Williams said.
Full Circle United hosted a peaceful demonstration on Sept. 3 that drew about 300 people. At the event, several people shared their stories about how racism affects their lives. Public Defender Larry Jefferson called for Tunheim’s resignation.
The group listed three demands: that Donald be fired from the Olympia Police Department and criminally charged in the shooting of Chaplin and Thompson; that reparations be paid to Chaplin and Thompson to cover legal expenses; and that charges against Chaplin and Thompson be dropped.