Two men who were shot by an Olympia police officer pleaded not guilty to assault charges Tuesday in Thurston County Superior Court.
Andre Thompson, 23, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, were arraigned at their first court appearance since the May 21 shooting. The two black men were shot by Officer Ryan Donald, who is white, after Donald responded to a call in west Olympia.
Both men were charged with two counts of second-degree assault after Donald said he was attacked with a skateboard when he tried to apprehend the men. Chaplin faces an additional charge of fourth-degree assault for allegedly throwing beer at a supermarket clerk that evening — the incident that prompted the call to police. Donald has not been charged with a crime in connection with the shooting.
The trial of Thompson and Chaplin has been set for the week of Dec. 14. They will both appear at the same trial unless the court orders separate trials.
Thompson and Chaplin were officially booked Tuesday into the Thurston County Jail, then released on personal recognizance. As a condition of their release, both men must remain in the state and refrain from using alcohol. Judge Gary Tabor waived a curfew requirement.
Chaplin arrived in a wheelchair because of injuries sustained when he was shot, his attorney, George Paul Trejo Jr., said. A bullet is lodged in Chaplin’s spinal column and has caused paralysis from the waist down, Trejo said.
“(Chaplin) is not the one who should be charged as a criminal,” Trejo told reporters, saying Donald should have been charged in the shooting. “The community should not be at the hands of a reckless officer.”
The court appointed attorney Sunni Ko to represent Thompson. Daryl Rodrigues, director of the Office of Assigned Counsel, temporarily represented Thompson at Tuesday’s hearing.
The shooting has sparked protests in the weeks since Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim announced the charges. Demonstrators have been arrested for blocking Tunheim’s office and chaining themselves to the fence outside his house, all while demanding that he drop the charges against Thompson and Chaplin.
Five protesters were arrested at the most recent demonstration Monday evening at the State Capitol. That gathering of about 50 people called for Gov. Jay Inslee to address the Olympia police shooting investigation and Tunheim’s charging decisions.
Sgt. Paul Cagle confirmed that five protesters refused to leave the Capitol rotunda after the building closed. They were cited for criminal trespassing and released.
Caro Gonzales, who has been leading the demonstrations, confirmed that the arrests were made peacefully.
“We are hoping justice will be seen through the legal system,” she said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Olympia Police Department is conducting an internal review to determine whether Donald violated any policies. Lt. Paul Lower said Tuesday that all reports, photos and medical records have been delivered to the review board members. The group will convene next week to question the officers involved and reach a decision, Lower said.
The review board is made up of Olympia Deputy Police Chief Steve Nelson, Lt. Aaron Jelcick, deputy city attorney Darren Nienaber, and Edward Prince, executive director for the state Commission on African American Affairs.