SEATTLE -- Evidence does not support criminal charges against an Olympia police officer who shot two young men he said attacked him with skateboards, an independent investigation into the case has concluded.
According to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation, Officer Ryan Donald used appropriate force and acted in self-defense when he shot 24-year-old Andre Thompson and his stepbrother, 21-year-old Bryson Chaplin, on May 21. The men suffered serious and critical injuries, but survived.
It is up to prosecutors to make the ultimate decision as to whether charges should be filed.
Thompson and Chaplin were accused of shoplifting beer from a nearby Safeway store, then tossing beer at a store employee who caught them in the act. They were later contacted by Donald, who claimed he shot the men in self-defense after they turned on him with skateboards and acted “very aggressive.”
The shooting led to large, mostly peaceful protests and sparked outrage over perceived police brutality. Some accused the white officer of shooting the two men because they were black. Others argued that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.
Following the shooting, a team of outside investigators was called in to gather facts and present them to prosecutors.
The outcome of the investigation is expected to be submitted to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office late this week or early next, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Toynbee.
Sources said the investigation should clear Donald criminally, but evidence supports charges against Thompson and Chaplin for their alleged actions leading up to the shooting.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said forensic evidence will also show that the stepbrothers were not “shot in the back” multiple times, as their attorney had claimed in interviews with the press.
“We know most of the shots were from the backside and in the back,” personal injury attorney David Beninger told Q13 FOX in an interview shortly after the shooting took place.
Reached by phone on Wednesday, Beninger declined to comment on the basis for those statements or whether he still stood by the claims.
“We’re trying to sort things out,” he said.
Saxon Rodgers, an attorney for Donald, told Q13 FOX News this week that he believes his client “will be cleared based on self-defense.” Rodgers said he could not speak about specifics of the case until the prosecutor’s office makes a charging decision.
Toynbee said a final determination on charges could take one to two weeks from the date the investigation is turned over. He said investigators could also be told to go back and gather more evidence.
Donald, 35, has been on administrative leave since the shooting. He is a three-year veteran of the Olympia Police Department.