SPOKANE, Wash --- More than a year after police shot a man carrying a machete in downtown Spokane, they released the body cam footage of the incident.
Spokane Police opened fire on Charleston Harper in front of Zola in downtown Spokane May 1, 2016. Officers talked to Harper for about 15 minutes and said they fired only after he started to enter the building. Police said they feared for the safety of the people in the building.
Today the police department released the body camera video of the officer involved shooting.
It was the night before Bloomsday, and police said downtown was packed with people. Several people called police that night and said Harper was walking around with a machete and threatening people. For nearly 15 minutes officers tried to talk to Harper while he stood in front of Zola yelling for them to shoot him.
One officer tazed Harper initially but it did not work. During the 15 minutes police evacuated Zola and stationed officers inside the bar. SPD said they believed the front door was locked, but it was not. When Harper opened the door and started to go inside, three officers fired less lethal blunt impact rounds, two of them fired bean bag rounds and one fired his gun.
Harper was shot in the back, but he survived.
One question this brings up is, why do officers use lethal force when they have non-lethal force? Officers said because there was an apartment complex across the street, they worried for the safety of people in the area and needed to contain the threat.
Harper was charged with burglary and the officers’ actions were ruled to be justified in this instance.