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2 brothers shot by Olympia officer expected to survive; protests held over shooting

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OLYMPIA -- An independent investigation has been launched after an Olympia police officer shot two brothers who allegedly attacked him with a skateboard after he stopped them for an attempted shoplifting incident.

Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts and Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum called for calm.

"Olympia is a community that cares deeply about social justice," Roberts said. "It's important that we stand together as a community during the investigation."

While police say there's no indication that race played a factor in the shooting, the two wounded brothers, 21-year-old Bryson Chaplin and 23-year-old Andre Thompson, are black and the Olympia police officer is white.

The chief acknowledged the sensitivity of racial issues and policing in stating the race of the men and police officer.

Police received calls of an assault around  12:52 a.m. Thursday at a Safeway grocery store near Cooper Point Road NW and 14th Avenue NW. Officers arrived at the store, Roberts said, and learned that two young black men carrying skateboards attempted to steal a case of beer. When they were confronted by store employees, the young men allegedly threw the beer at the employees and ran out of the store.

At 1:14 a.m., 35-year-old police officer Ryan Donald, a three-year veteran of the force, radioed other officers to report he had encountered two men matching the suspects' description. About two minutes later, at 1:16 a.m., Donald radioed in that he fired his weapon and the two men were shot.

Both brothers were taken to the hospital. Chaplin, the younger brother, was in critical condition but updated to serious Friday. Thompson is in serious condition, police said. The officer was not hurt.

Thurston County sheriff's Chief Deputy Brad Watkins told reporters Thursday afternoon that hospital officials told them that both wounded men are expected to survive.

It's what happened between those two minutes after the officer radioed he had spotted the suspects and before he radioed again to report shots fired that remain largely in question, Roberts said.

According to a preliminary investigation, Donald said he was assaulted by the men at the rear of the patrol car with a skateboard. Donald then fired his gun and hit one of the men, Roberts said, and the two brothers ran into a nearby treeline.

The brothers emerged from the woods seconds later, Roberts said, and Donald fired his weapon multiple times. It is unknown if a second confrontation between Donald and the brothers occurred, Roberts said.

Following the shooting, the Thurston County Critical Incident Team -- composed of multiple different law enforcement agencies -- began investigating the shooting.

Roberts said there was no indication that race played a factor in the shooting.

Both Roberts and Buxbaum recognized the seriousness of the situation, especially given recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore involving white officers and black suspects, and sensitivity regarding race relations.

"Frankly, I've spent several hours with my staff discussing some of the challenges going on across this nation," Roberts said.

Both officials urged calm in Olympia, allowing investigators time to complete a full report.

"We have to be realistic, these are difficult situations," Roberts said. "I hope the community gives the investigation time to proceed."

At 11:30 a.m., people in Olympia began protesting the shooting, chanting "stolen beer does not equal stolen lives."

Hundreds turned out at about 6 p.m. Thursday to hold a rally and march to protest the shooting.

Watkins said investigators had interviewed more than 20 people, including Thompson in the hospital, but had not yet interviewed the police officer. He said they did not schedule an interview with the officer until next Tuesday, because, he said, it has been found that officers remember more about a shooting 48-72 hours after the fact.

Watkins said investigators also have surveillance video from the Safeway store, and that the investigation could take three to six weeks to complete.

At the same afternoon news conference, Thurston County prosecutor Jon Tunheim said they must determine if the officer acted in a "reasonable" way or if charges need to be filed.

He added that the bar is high in this state, adding that a Washington state statute says officers cannot be prosecuted for use of force if they acted in "good faith and without malice."

The city of Olympia set up a website to keep people informed about the latest updates, as well as release audio and video recordings as they become available. That site is here.

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76 comments

  • dg54321

    “Olympia is a community that cares deeply about social justice,”

    That’s why Olympia sucks. How about we just care about JUSTICE and leave out the social part? That’s where it always goes wrong.

    If the story adds up and these 2 did attack the officer with a skateboard, then the shooting seems justified. But the story could change as the facts come out. Too early to say definitively as of now.

    But there are always those who will never accept the facts if they don’t portray the outcome they want to hear, no matter how indefensible that position, because of their bias in these matters. All they see are elements of color, and that’s incredibly racist. But they’ll never see that, because they blind themselves to their hypocrisy.

    • Michelle

      It is so sad that so many still do not understand. When black officers start shooting young white males at a disproportionate rate to ALL other races and you fear for your children and husbands, you’ll get it. Not that the brothers should not be stopped, questioned, or even arrested…but to be shot? They supposedly were not near the officer at the time they were shot, which means the officer was probably not in immediate danger to justify the shooting. Also committing a crime, especially a misdemeanor theft, is not an excuse to shot anyone. Would you think it was okay if your child/young adult made a bad decision and stole something from a store and was later shot for it or would you say “that’s what you get when you steal, he learned his lesson!” I bet you would change your views. Now imagine that the cop was black and this has been an epidemic (black cops shooting young white men)…you may become even more upset, if you tell the truth, maybe a little racist if you weren’t already.

      • Ryan

        First off, let me start off by saying my thoughts are with this officer and his family. Second, let’s remember that these two young men were felons. Sure, they stole beer, but then they assaulted the store clerk, as well as an officer! One of these men had a history of obstructing an officer, 2nd degree robbery, auto theft, and assault charges. He was a felon! Why is it so hard to believe that these guys assaulted this officer to the point he had to defend himself! I can’t speak from your point of view, and I will say that there have been some highly publicized shootings this year involving the deaths of young black men. The loss of life is tragic! My hope is that these two young men turn their lives around! Police everywhere are scrutinized for their actions, now more than ever. Why don’t we start with our kids, and tell them what my parents told me. 1) Don’t break the law. 2) when an officer tells you to do something, do it. Had these two done those two simple things, we wouldn’t be discussing this today. Lastly, how do you know these two weren’t within arms reach when they were shot?

      • James

        Are you really that dense? They were not shot because they stole a case of beer…SMH…They were shot because they attacked a police officer. Protesters holding signs saying a skateboard is not a deadly weapon…Really? Stand still and let me hit you with withe flat side of one swung with some force and then tell me its not a weapon…

  • The Decider

    Here we go. Bunch of people being idiots and marching for juvenile delinquency. Two young black men steal beer, throw it at employees, attack an officer with a skateboard, and are subsequently shot. I don’t care how old or the color of their skin. Theft is theft. Assault is assault. And they were breaking the law. 2 on one. People just love paying to keep criminals alive and well. Don’t they? You think people who steal only steal? Usually thieves come along with other crime.

    • ontheboat

      Does it occur to you for a nanosecond that the STORY you are CHOOSING to believe is a one-sided narrative that is EXACTLY the same as every other police shooting in American History? It’s the EXACT SAME story the officer used in the Walter Scott case and countless others.

      The only question that we should be asking is “where’s the video of the encounter” and if the police can’t produce it; Why the hell not? It’s no longer acceptable in this day and age not to have body and cruiser audio and video, and **IF** the department cared about “justice” then they would have it already.

      • The Decider

        What I choose to believe is theft is unacceptable and color of skin shouldn’t matter. Bottom line is if these two hadn’t stolen they likely wouldn’t be in this predicament. And your choosing to believe this is like other stories as well. You are such a simpleton. Go protest with your other crazies.

        • ontheboat

          You are also trying to equate shoplifting with the death penalty and bypassing the courts altogether. Is that really the world you want? Move to mosul then.

      • VoiceOfReason

        So your theory is these nice young men were casually skateboarding around at 1am looking for old ladies to help cross the street and this officer hinted them down and shot them. The police report about the safeway incident is made. That’s simply delusional.

        • ontheboat

          No, my story is that they were running and he shot them in the back. Which is what the actual medical information shows as well. You can spin it all you want, but the fact is the cop was out of control, by definition because he shot a neighboring house! Cops freaks out, wildly sprays a bunch of bullets, and then who is the one with motivation training and need to lie? The cop, so he says ‘i was afraid’ to try and justify a plainly illegal out of control shooting.

  • dg54321

    “A skateboard does not equal a deadly weapon”
    It absolutely does, in the hands of someone wielding it as such.
    I see the Evergreen dropouts are hard at work protesting what they don’t understand again…..

    • adobe

      Whether a skate board is a deadly weapon depends on whether you are the receiver or the giver. These thugs that roam our streets need to be loaded up given two weeks training and shipped to the middle East to fight for whom ever they desire but it would not be against our law enforcement

  • d_2

    At 11:30 a.m., people in Olympia began protesting the shooting, allegedly chanting “stolen beer does not equal stolen lives.” They’re dead? That didn’t take long. Peety is probably speed down there right now to participate. I don’t care what color you are… you threaten a LEO and they will defend themselves.

    • dg54321

      It’s Olympia. These people were probably already camped out on the Evergreen campus just waiting for a chance to march for something. You look at the signs, most look like they took some card stock out of the art room and scribbled on it with a permanent marker and called it good.

  • "peety"

    so there is no dash or body cams? Just his word again? I thought we were going to fix that.

    I do agree it/s a bit early to rush to judgement but with no body or dash cams, this could get ugly.

    • d_2

      @Peety… body cams do not, and did not miraculously get deployed to every single LEO on the planet. If there was one in this instance; there is some explaining that will be required. Meanwhile an affluent white man is murdered in his own home by a black man (allegedly)… no one is marching for his or his families lives. The homeowner didn’t commit a crime < no uproar. Two alleged criminals commit a crime, shot by law enforcement < excuse to protest.

    • tootietuttle

      government needs to implement those…you should know better…should take about 20 years to study, propose, review, retask, restudy, implement, review, retask, reimplement…you know how government works…

      All this because thugs like Michael Brown and these two skateboarding punks decide to BREAK THE LAW. Is a skateboard a weapon?? I never would think so, but then I never thought a box cutter could be a weapon until 9-11.

      Maybe your protesters need to be hit with a skateboard…

      • VoiceOfReason

        Hopefully its these protesters families that are raped and robbed when these thugs “graduate” to bigger crimes and the police’ hands are tied for fear of treading on a criminals rights.

        • tootietuttle

          unfortunately, they tend not to steal from protesters, rather people who have jobs, have homes, and have something to offer society.

    • 03sv1g

      You make a good point if your only concern is police shootings. I don’t steal, assault people, rob stores etc., so I don’t worry about being shot by the police. I’d be more concerned about the criminal free-for-all that would ensue if we disarmed our cops. It would be like Baltimore all over the country, 24-7. Criminals would have absolutely nothing to fear…

    • Resident

      Britain now has armed police units that patrol and respond to situations. There are still unarmed “Bobby’s” but the reality is that criminals have gotten more violent.

      • Lulu

        My husband works in the wine/liquor department at safeway and was assaulted for trying to stop a shoplifter last week. The guy with the backpack full of stolen booze has more rights than my husband getting to help and protect his company. He’s not allowed to lay a finger on the shoplifters and got his head smashed into a concrete pillar for his efforts.

    • Ruger

      Your ignorant, just because the law enforcement in other countries don’t have guns doesn’t mean the criminals don’t!

      • Stan

        Weird it won’t let me attach this to the comment I want it on, just makes it a new comment…oh well it was intended for Peety’s dumb comment about less police shootings in countries that don’t arm cops

  • "peety"

    The thing that stands out as different in this case is the fact that the officer immediately (so he says) provided medical assistance.
    twice fired Officer Wilson did not lift a finger for Michael Brown.

  • mike

    “Skateboard does not equal a deadly weapon”? Tell that to my wife’s cousin who was killed by a skateboard to the head in pioneer square several years ago at Mardi Gras

  • dg54321

    Q13 going for the emotional nonsense with posting family picture of the “good boys”, etc. Very typical.

    So, we should call you “CNN Local” and give up the FOX designation then?

  • justme

    What kind of people walk into a store, grab a case of beer as if they should just be able to take whatever they want from whomever they want? Then they throw it at someone? You protestors are going to leave it so a certain demographic feels like they can do this to any of us any time they want. Apparently they are unable to understand the basics of human society which include rules. It’s truly like having wild animals in our midst.

  • justme

    I believe that may be a gang sign the one is showing in that top photo. Do our lives matter to them? Think about it.

  • Mahlean Nelson

    I am just sickened by this situation. The fact that they didn’t even steal the beer makes you really question why they where so insistent on finding them. If it isn’t race relate well would the officer have gone so far as to pursue them when nothing was even taken…..and why didn’t he call for back-up if he felt so threatened by the individuals so much so that he fired multiple rounds at the two men. In my opinion if an officer is in a situation like that he would request back-up. Yet he didn’t. And why? Because he didn’t want any assistance to witness him shooting theses two young men. I can’t imagine any officer who is trained to handle any type of situation would feel that a skateboard is a deadly weapon and fire multiple rounds to protect himself from these skateboard toting African American males who must be dangerous if they attempted to steal beer. It makes wonder why African American men have been known to run and then say they ran because they where scared, and we blame them for running away. I would be deathly afraid of law enforcement if I was an African American male. What is it going to take to make the government to see this as a serious problem it’s no longer an accidental incident it’s now happening regularly and it makes me nervous. I have mixed race cousins and worry that they could be at risk. Protect and Serve BS!!

    • dg54321

      “didn’t even steal the beer”

      Except we have police reports that say they were alleged to have done exactly that. The rest of your comment is just as filled with inaccuracies.

    • The Decider

      You must not have any idea how ignorant you sound. You realize most people now days are mixed race. Most people don’t go around stealing, throwing attempted stolen items (which could injure) at people. Most people don’t steal because its wrong. And most people don’t steal because they are assets to society in some way and hold jobs, so the can pay for their booze. If they attacked an officer, they had it coming. Two on one. And if you read the article, the officer noticed he was stopping two individuals matching the discriptions, then radioed for help after the confrontarion stating they were very aggressive and he believed he had shot one. Their mom should have taught them not to steal and that breaking the law has consequences. As does stupidity. You need a good whack to the head with a skateboard. Maybe it will make you more intelligent. And then you can tell us how its not a weapon.

  • Resident

    Well, if you try to hit a cop with your skateboard do remember the guy on The Ave in Seattle who was killed after being struck in the head with a skateboard. Real word says attack a cop and you win some use of force.

  • today was a good day

    YEAH, yall must of just got done watching American History X…….. These types of ignorant people stereo type… Does this mean you stand by this and belong to this group?? you all sure sound like it, but at the end of the day, you will be treated like the rest of the trash in jail.. you will blend in just like all these cops should!

  • John

    a few seconds ago
    I give officer Donald a standing ovation. It’s about time that OPD addresses crime on our streets. As a long time resident i have watched druggers control the streets.
    This would not have happened if the city council had a law enforcement priority. But sadly people like buxbaum, langer and hankey are to busy taking bribes from developers, than to address crime on our streets.
    Additionally the media is at fault for race baiting by call these violent men unarmed, they were armed with a deadly weapon, ie skateboards

  • Tamara

    You all make me sick! Jumping to conclusions and bad mouthing people! Fact is we don’t know what happened! Try just not being so petty and judgmental!

  • araucania

    I dont know whos word I should take in the comments, the guys saying Olympia sucks because so many people in the city oppose racism and support social justice, or the people who magically missed the facts that the 1-The two individuals shot were UNARMED and 2- The cop was NOT INJURED (which is funny considering he claimed he was attacked by a skateboard…Ive been hit with one…doesnt leave you uninjured like this cop was).

    • dg54321

      They weren’t unarmed. They were armed with blunt objects – the skateboards. And one doesn’t have to be injured to justifiably shoot in self defense.

  • Ralph

    Schools need to teach kids how to behave around the police. Young people do dumb things and do not respect authority figures like teachers, police or parents. Then they try to act-out the rude insolent behavior seen on TV and movies. Yes, the police will shoot you if you threaten them! It’s going to be a problem for a long time.

  • Ruger

    If this was two whites, or any other race for that fact. This would not have made news!!! Liberal anarchist are out in full effect, again without the facts. From what I am understanding is that if two men of any color came at me trying to injure me with their skateboards, I am definitely going to shoot! Liberal anarchist have this rationale that you should have sat there and taken a beating, and possible died. Again the liberal anarchist rationale is also it was just beer, never mind they not complying and trying to injure a law enforcement officer. Is he not allowed to defend himself, and go home to his family uninjured? Let the investigation be done and facts come out, then rant and rave all you want!

  • Tyrone

    If you resist arrest you might get shot. If you attack a cop you might get shot. Duh!!!! So tired of the perpetually aggrieved young black man…..doing stupid, violent crap, reaping the consequences, and then insisting that it’s everyone else’s problem. Disgusting but predictable how Q13 is covering this story like these misbehaving thugs are the victims. -Signed, A Responsible Black Man

  • ShadowWalker59

    Okay folks, make sure your guns are handy, I feel a race war in the horizon!! Glad he shot them both, I mean, rob a store, take what you want from anybody you want, then you reap what you sow!! Sure don’t feel sorry for either of them. The Policeman did what he had to do, and I probably would have done the same. Hey, why didn’t all those people who were standing around with their fingers up their noses, do something? I guess they were just leaving it up to someone who would actually do something.

  • Armand

    People really need to start teaching there kids better values.. Like not stealing a $12 dollar beer rack.. I am not saying cops are perfect in anyway.. But damn why do people have to make such stupid small mistakes and then have them turn into huge ones like a life/death situation.

  • tootietuttle

    I seriously can’t believe this much attention has been garnered by two criminals.

    I won’t be surprised if Budweiser starts marketing their beer, as “Bud Light, it’s worth stealing and getting shot”.

  • Brian

    Look at all the white liberal scum from Evergreen marching for something. You know they were so excited that this happened near them so they could protest. This is what they love for. They are what is wrong with society. In every situation where a black man was killed this year, they were breaking the law.

    Also, because of the liberals running this government, they will give the family of these dirtbags millions of dollars even though they were breaking the law. I guarantee it.

  • Shorte Luv

    Why were police pursuing them, they did not shoplift therefore the police had no business looking for them for “attempted theft” since they didn’t even touch the door.

  • today was a good day

    If I was working at Safeway I wouldn’t do a thing. First, Iam not risking my life for a minimun wage job and second what are you going to do when you catch them? you gonna end up on the concrete pillar LMAO

    • mike

      Working at Safeway is only a minimum wage job if your a bag boy. Checkers can make upwards of $18 an hour. The last year i worked in grocery was 2005 and I made over $18 an hour then. Plus time and a half Sundays and double and a half holidays.

  • Kenneth Hontz

    Chicken shit cops have no business in law enforcement

    Cop should have waited for backup and handled it by hand

    Not guns

  • SUSAN

    OUR MEDIA SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES. We really know NOTHING about this case other than 2 brothers were shoplifting from a Safeway, one of them threw an entire case of beer onto an “unarmed female employee”. They were shot by a cop but they were NOT “unarmed”. They both had weapons called “skateboards”. Just because someone does NOT have a gun does NOT mean they are “Unarmed”. The freaking media wants to start another racism frenzy when it had NOTHING to do with race. 2 thugs were committing a crime, they resisted arrest and they threatened an officer of the law with their skateboards. Remember that man who was beaten to death last year BY A SKATEBOARD???? They can be lethal weapons on the wrong hands. I am so sick of this “black lives matter” ALL LIVES MATTER…IF YOU ARE A BLACK PERSON BREAKING THE LAW YOU ARE GOING TO BE CONFRONTED OR SHOT. IF YOU ARE A WHITE PERSON COMMITTING A CRIME, YOU MAY BE SHOT TOO.

    The problem here is there are TOO many of all of us being shot by cops!! Black, white, yellow, red, brown what ever (notice I didn’t way “it doesn’t matter if they are green, blue or pink”..BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T COME IN THOSE COLORS. It is a pet peeve of mine when people say that.

  • Jim Kelly

    I previously wrote “good shot” I regret this comment now that it appears both were shot in the back. I think 90% of police are noble honest well meaning people but they keep proving me wrong!