Prosecutor: Bellingham officer justified in deadly shooting

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BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A prosecutor has ruled a fatal shooting in March by a Bellingham police officer was justified.

The Bellingham Herald reports Whatcom County prosecutor Dave McEachran said in a report released Monday that officer Jeremiah Leland lawfully discharged his firearm in an effort to protect himself and other people in the immediate area.

Police believe 28-year-old Manuel Gonzalez stabbed and wounded a man March 12 on a Bellingham street. Witnesses chased him as he lugged an overstuffed black plastic bag toward the downtown bus station.

Police say Leland located Gonzalez with the knife and a confrontation occurred, with Leland opening fire after Gonzalez refused orders to drop the knife and charged him.

Leland fired four shots.

An autopsy showed Gonzalez was hit by three bullets. He died at the scene.

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