‘I had no other means to stop that threat,’ says deputy who fatally shot man at casino

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-agency investigation into a fatal shooting by a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy in October. A report on the investigation has been turned over to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office.
Lewis County Sheriff’s Office led a multi-agency investigation into a fatal shooting by a Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy in October. A report on the investigation has been turned over to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. KIRO

A Thurston County Sheriff’s deputy ordered an armed and suicidal man in a parking lot at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester to drop his gun numerous times before fatally shooting him last month, according to investigative reports from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office obtained by The Chronicle through a public records request.

“I had no other means to stop that threat and if he would’ve lifted that gun up and shot at me, I wouldn’t have had any reaction whatsoever,” Deputy Brett Campbell told detectives, as quoted in Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jamey McGinty’s report.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the incident in partnership with the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team, recently forwarded the results of their review of the shooting to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, sheriff’s office command staff told the Board of Lewis County Commissioners last week.

Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Lippert said his office received a “10-inch binder” full of investigative reports, photos and video evidence on Oct. 21.

“My job is to review every single page and every frame of video on that,” he said.

Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim will make the final decision regarding any possible criminal charges, he said. “I expect this to take another couple of weeks at least,” Lippert said.

At about 8 p.m. Oct. 10, Thurston County law enforcement agencies responded to reports that Daniel James, 55, had threatened suicide, had a gun, and was associated with a blue Jeep.

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and Chehalis Tribal Police began searching for James, and learned from dispatchers that he was at Lucky Eagle Casino in Grand Mound.

Thurston County Deputy Brett Campbell was the first to arrive, according to reports from Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detectives.

When he pulled into the parking lot near James’ Jeep, James allegedly got out of the vehicle with a gun in his hand.

Campbell reported he shot James four times.

Officer Robert Strader of the Chehalis Tribal Police Department reported that when he arrived, he saw Deputy Campbell running from the Jeep back to his patrol vehicle. Two other law enforcement officers were at the scene.

James was handcuffed and lying on the ground on the driver’s side of the Jeep when Chehalis Tribal Police arrived, they reported, and he was bleeding from multiple bullet wounds in his chest.

Officers at the scene began attempting to aid James, packing his bullet wounds with gauze as they waited for medics, Chehalis Tribal officers reported.

Strader reported seeing a .44 Magnum revolver on the ground near James. Officers also reported smelling “the odor of intoxicants,” on James.

James was airlifted to a hospital but died on the way, according to reports. Campbell was not injured.

After the shooting, the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team, composed of law enforcement officers from Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, began the investigation. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office was designated as the lead agency for the investigation.

Det. McGinty and Det. Sgt. Kevin Englebertson of the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office used Thurston County’s FARO crime scene scanning device to create a 3-D image of the scene.

Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office detectives met with Campbell, who on the advice of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Union representative declined to provide a statement immediately after the incident and said he would provide one at a later date.

Grays Harbor detectives took photos of Campbell in his uniform and seized evidence including his Glock .40-caliber duty pistol, items from his vest, and the vest itself.

The gun had 10 rounds in its magazine and one in the chamber, according to the Grays Harbor report. The magazines each carry 15 rounds.

They also seized his Taser, uniform and car keys, and took photos of all the evidence before turning it over to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office took an inventory of items in Campbell’s patrol vehicle.

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office photographed injuries on James’ body, then spoke with his wife. She reported that he left that evening after she confronted him with suspicions that he was contacting other women via social media.

She told detectives she called 911 after realizing one of his pistols, which he referred to as “Betsy,” was missing.

The Thurston County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy on Oct. 13. That day, Lewis County detectives met with Campbell and his deputies’ guild attorney to get a statement.

Campbell told the detectives he had few memorable calls that evening before the report of a possibly suicidal suspect.

Campbell said he responded to the Lucky Eagle parking lot and soon found James’ vehicle with James inside. He said he parked at an angle allowing him to see the rear license plate, then exited his patrol vehicle and stood behind his open driver’s side door.

Campbell told detectives he asked James to show his hands and got no response. He next used his PA unit to ask again, and still got no response.

At that point, Campbell’s gun was drawn but not aimed, according to McGinty’s report.

Campbell reported James turned sideways to leave the vehicle and had a large revolver in his hand. Campbell said James “pointed the gun directly at him,” McGinty wrote. James then reportedly dropped the gun to his side and began walking toward Campbell, asking him to shoot.

Campbell said he asked James repeatedly to drop the gun, but he said James kept walking.

A casino visitor in the parking lot at the time heard the exchange, according to a report from Detective Gabriel Frase.

“He remembered hearing the command, ‘put your hands up where I can see them,’” Frase wrote in his report. “The commands continued and included instructions similar to ‘get back,’ ‘get back,’ ‘put the gun down,’ ‘put the gun down or you will be shot,’ ‘if you don’t put the gun down you will be shot.’ ”

Campbell reported James continued walking toward him saying “shoot me.”

At least two other witnesses confirmed hearing Campbell tell James to put down the gun several times.

One witness reported hearing three or four gunshots and ran inside the casino to get security officers. Detectives later found four spent shell casings.

The aftermath of the shooting was captured on body cameras from two Chehalis Tribal Police officers and from a dashboard camera in a Chehalis Tribal officer’s vehicle.