County prosecutors are one step closer to a charging decision in the May 21 police shooting of two young men on Olympia’s west side.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office submitted the Critical Incident Task Force investigation report to the county Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday afternoon, and a decision on whether Olympia Officer Ryan Donald or the two men he shot will be charged criminally is expected in the next several weeks.
The Prosecutor’s Office announced at 4 p.m. Thursday that the Sheriff’s Office had officially turned over the report. Investigators might be asked to gather more information before Prosecutor Jon Tunheim makes a final decision.
The Prosecutor’s Office will release a progress update within three weeks.
The Critical Incident Task Force, a team made up of South Sound law enforcement agencies, began its criminal investigation after Donald shot Olympia residents Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, just after 1 a.m. on May 21.
The two men were suspected of stealing beer from the Safeway on Olympia’s west side, and Donald found them on Cooper Point Road.
During a May 21 news conference, Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said that Thompson and Chaplin weren’t armed with guns or any other conventional weapons, but one of the men might have attacked the officer with a skateboard.
Donald wasn’t injured in the alleged attack. However, Chief Deputy Brad Watkins said May 21 that there was evidence that an assault occurred.
Seattle-based attorney David Beininger said he is still representing Chaplin and Thompson. He said Chaplin is in rehabilitation, and is paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the injuries he sustained in the shooting.
On June 3, Beninger told The Olympian that he believes the shooting was unjustified, and the details of the case were still fuzzy. On Thursday, he said he hopes the investigation report will shed some light on the case.
“We’re looking forward to looking at the full report,” Beninger said.
The task force investigation was led by the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, with the Washington State Patrol, Lacey Police Department and Tumwater Police Department assisting. Because the Olympia Police Department was involved in the shooting, the department didn’t participate in the investigation.
However, the department will conduct an internal review after the Prosecutor’s Office’s review to determine whether Donald violated any department policies, Olympia Lt. Paul Lower said.