A Thurston County judge has agreed to add theft charges against two brothers already accused of assaulting an Olympia police officer.
The new charges were added Thursday, less than three weeks before Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin are scheduled for trial Oct. 31.
Both men already faced two counts of second-degree assault, and Chaplin faced an additional fourth-degree assault charge related to his confrontation with a grocery store employee on May 21, 2015 — the incident that police were responding to when Thompson and Chaplin allegedly assaulted Officer Ryan Donald.
Shortly after that confrontation, the two men were shot by Donald.
Donald had responded to a shoplifting call and as he tried to apprehend the brothers, he said the two men attacked him with skateboards. Chaplin now uses a wheelchair because of injuries from the shooting. Donald was cleared of any wrongdoing both by the Olympia Police Department and Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office.
Following Thursday’s hearing, Chaplin will be charged with three counts of third-degree theft for allegedly stealing beer three different times May 21, 2015, at the Safeway store on Harrison Avenue in west Olympia. Thompson will be charged with one count of third-degree theft for allegedly attempting to steal a watermelon.
Prosecutors say the theft allegations are important to the case because two of the thefts preceded the confrontations with the store employee and Officer Donald.
“The state has contended all along that these thefts are part and parcel to this incident,” said deputy prosecutor Scott Jackson.
Chaplin’s attorney George Trejo and Thompson’s attorney Sunni Ko both argued that the theft charges — and admissibility of surveillance footage as evidence — will unfairly portray the defendants as thieves in the eyes of potential jurors.
“They want to paint my client and his brother as a couple of thieves capable of committing other offenses, including assault of a police officer,” said Trejo, who called the new charges an “11th hour filing.”
Judge Gary Tabor had previously granted a motion by the defense to exclude testimony during trial about the first two alleged thefts. Ko argued Thursday that the court already had ruled those theft charges were not admissible.
“What does the two earlier thefts do when we are trying to have a fair trial for these young men?” Ko said.
However, Tabor accepted the amended charges from prosecutors Thursday after considering whether the theft charges were relevant evidence in the case.
“It will be up to a jury,” said Tabor, noting “the intertwining of the circumstances.”
Tabor also granted the defense’s motion for the judge to conduct a private review of Officer Donald’s personnel file to determine whether there are more documents eligible for release.
See the video
The surveillance footage below shows the shoplifting incident May 21, 2015, at the Safeway on 3215 Harrison Ave. W. in Olympia: