Verdict reached in Thompson/Chaplin trial
After an eight-week trial and almost five days of jury deliberations, a Thurston County Superior Court jury deadlocked Thursday on the most serious charges faced by two brothers in an officer-involved shooting in west Olympia almost two years ago.
On the more serious charges of second-degree assault that Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin faced, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Erik Price declared a mistrial.
But Thompson and Chaplin were found guilty on lesser charges — something the prosecution had requested during closing arguments if the jury couldn’t agree to second-degree assault. Both were found guilty of third-degree assault, while Chaplin also was found guilty of fourth-degree assault for his role in the supermarket incident that launched the series of events.
Both brothers were allowed to go free Thursday, although the prosecution recommended they be taken into custody. Defense attorneys argued against it, saying they were not a risk to the community or a flight risk. The judge agreed.
When the men will be sentenced was not immediately clear. Defense attorney Ko argued for a time in late June to see whether the state will retry the men on the more serious charges. The judge appeared to suggest timing agreeable to both parties.
Thompson’s attorney Sunni Ko declined to comment about the case, while Chaplin’s attorney George Trejo expressed disappointment in the jury’s decision. Thompson could not immediately be reached after the verdict, while Chaplin’s friends and family prevented an Olympian reporter from asking him questions.
Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim wouldn’t say whether they will retry the brothers on the more serious charges.
“No, we’re going to take some time on this one,” he said. “We’re going to take some time and really think about it and consult with folks involved in the case.”
Meanwhile, about 50 supporters of the two brothers began singing in the lobby of Superior Court after the verdict.
“Thank the waters for Bryson’s and Andre’s lives,” they sang. “They’re not guilty, we know who’s guilty.”
The trial covered a series of events between Thompson, Chaplin and Olympia police officer Ryan Donald on Cooper Point Road that happened on May 21, 2015.
Chaplin and Thompson faced assault charges resulting from an alleged attack on Donald, who was attempting to apprehend the brothers while responding to a report of thefts and an assault at a west Olympia supermarket.
Chaplin and Thompson each were charged with two counts of second-degree assault for the alleged attack on Donald using their skateboards as weapons. Chaplin faced one count of fourth-degree assault for an alleged assault on a Safeway employee prior to the encounter with Donald.
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.
About 11 a.m. Thursday, Judge Price walked into a crowded courtroom with an announcement. Others thought a verdict had been reached. Both were correct.
Price explained that two days ago the jury had “indicated a measure of deadlock.”
He then called on juror no. 12, the presiding juror, to answer a yes or no question.
▪ Price: “Is there a reasonable probability that the jury will return a verdict within a reasonable time as to all of the counts?
▪ Juror: “No.”
From there, Price declared a mistrial on the more serious charges.
MORE LEGAL CHALLENGES?
Meanwhile, Thompson and his mother, Crystal Chaplin, were arrested Monday night on suspicion of fourth-degree assault after an alleged incident of domestic violence.
According to the police report:
About 10:30 p.m. Monday, Olympia police were dispatched to a downtown apartment where they learned that Thompson and his brother, Bryson Chaplin, had allegedly gotten into an argument and then a fight over the location of some hot wings and a cellphone.
Their mother thought the argument was over Bryson Chaplin’s girlfriend and a cellphone, according to the report.
Bryson Chaplin’s girlfriend said that the men’s mother “entered her room and grabbed her by the hair and drug her into the hallway,” later striking “her with a closed fist in the head and neck.”
The girlfriend said she broke free and retreated to her bedroom where she apparently grabbed a hatchet for defense and locked the door behind her and Chaplin. That’s when she called 911.
Bryson Chaplin later told police that Thompson had assaulted him.
Thompson and his mother appeared in Olympia Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.