SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash --- A deputy’s use of deadly force is justified in a shooting last August where the suspect was suicidal and non-cooperative, according to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.
Authorities said when deputies arrived, the man was holding a pistol, refused multiple commands to drop the gun before Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Clay Hilton opened fire. The man was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy, Clay Hilton and another deputy responded to a home on South Glenn Court on August 14 around 1:45 a.m., according to police documents. They responded to the residence for a welfare check, said police officials. They discovered there were two people in the residence, Tiffany and Justin Klauba, said police documents.
Tiffany let the deputies into the house when they arrived. Deputies said they found Justin in the living room. He was reportedly sitting on the floor with a gun pressed to his head and his finger on the trigger.
Police officials said Justin was not responding to commands to drop the gun. Deputies drew their weapons and told Tiffany to leave the room.
After she left, the deputies continued to try and get Justin to drop the gun. Hilton told Justin to drop the gun or he was going to shoot.
“Go ahead. I don’t want to have to hurt you,” said Justin, according to police documents.
Hilton fired one time at the suspect’s right hand, causing him to drop the gun, said police officials. Hilton fired because Justin was being suicidal, making assaultive statements and out of concern for the safety of himself, the other deputy and the Klaubas.
Justin was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center for treatment of a gunshot wound to the hand. A loaded Smith and Wesson 9 mm semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the living room floor of the residence, said police officials.
The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office determined it was reasonable for Hilton to use deadly force in this situation. They said Justin posed a serious and immediate threat to the people in the residence.
There is no indication Hilton acted out of malice or lacked a good faith belief in the correctness of his actions, according to prosecutors.