Bryson Chaplin, one of two men accused of assaulting an Olympia police officer in 2015, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of third-degree theft. The charges stem from thefts from the west side Safeway before an officer-involved shooting on Cooper Point Road.
Chaplin and his brother, Andre Thompson, face assault charges resulting from an alleged May 21, 2015, attack on Olympia police Officer Ryan Donald, who was attempting to apprehend the brothers after responding to a report of thefts and an assault at the west Olympia supermarket.
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.
Chaplin, 22, pleaded guilty to two of the theft charges Monday morning, and pleaded to the third count following a lunch break. Chaplin still faces three other charges in Thurston County Superior Court: two counts of second-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree assault.
Trial for those remaining charges is expected to continue through this week. Jury selection is underway.
Sentencing for the theft charges has been postponed. The maximum sentence for third-degree theft is 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The fourth-degree assault charge is related to the alleged assault of a Safeway clerk during the alleged final theft. Chaplin is accused of throwing a case of beer at the clerk. However, attorney George Trejo, who represents Chaplin, said Monday that his client was throwing the beer to the ground.
Thompson, 25, also is expected to stand trial. He is charged with one count of third-degree theft and two counts of second-degree assault. Attorney Sunni Ko, who represents Thompson, said her client will not plead guilty to the theft charge. She told Judge Erik Price on Monday that she plans to move for dismissal of the charge.
“The truth of it is, your honor, is that charge is absolutely ridiculous,” Ko said.
She argued that Thompson and Chaplin separated upon entering the store, and that her client would have had no way of knowing that Chaplin planned to steal beer. Thompson is charged as an accomplice.
Chaplin entered the guilty pleas over the objections of deputy prosecutors Wayne Graham and Scott Jackson. Graham argued that the pleas were a tactic by the defense to have evidence excluded. When Trejo announced his client’s intentions to plead guilty last week, he indicated that he planned to have a Safeway video of the thefts excluded from the trial.
Trejo didn’t deny this — he said that trials are largely based on tactics.
“I’m not going to deny it; the state shouldn’t deny it,” Trejo said.
Price asked the deputy prosecutors if their decision to file the theft charges last October also had been a tactic. Graham said the decision to file the charges was based on “a number of factors.”
Price decided not to exclude the surveillance video prior to Chaplin making his guilty pleas. He hasn’t updated the ruling since the pleas.
Following the pleas Monday, the court resumed jury selection, and it is expected to wrap up Tuesday. Opening statements by attorneys are scheduled for Wednesday.