Video shows Spokane Police shooting robbery suspect



Posted on March 26, 2014 at 11:12 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 28 at 12:48 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Witness video of a fatal officer-involved shooting in North Spokane Wednesday night appears to differ from the account of the incident given to KREM 2 reporters at the scene.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said his officers made contact with a suspect in a recent armed robbery of a Baskin-Robbins just before 7 p.m. Wednesday at a house near Maple and Grace.  Straub said officers were in the process of getting a search warrant for the house when the man inside spotted them and began talking to them through a screen door.

WATCH: Cell phone video captures SPD shooting

PHOTOS: 14 shell casings found at the scene

"We talked to him in the house [and] we continued to talk to him when he came out of the house," said Straub.

Straub said his officers talked to the suspect while he was inside the house via a PA system in an officer's car. 

“We switched from the PA system when he was in the house.  When he came out onto the porch, it was, you know, relatively face to face,” Straub said.

Witness video obtained by KREM 2 News, however, shows the suspect walking out of the house for two to three steps with what appears to be a weapon pointed towards the ground.  An officer yells, "Drop it!" and multiple shots are fired with the suspect falling to the ground.

KREM 2 News made Spokane Police aware of the video and asked for a comment Thursday morning on the differing accounts.  A Spokane Police spokesperson told KREM 2 News that Chief Straub would be the person who would comment on the video from the department. 

The Washington State Patrol was leading the investigation with the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team (SIRR).  Thursday morning, KREM 2 News had not received a comment on the witness video from Chief Straub or the lead investigative agencies.

Police said the suspect was part of an on-going investigation into a series of armed robberies. Spokane police said they developed probable cause to arrest the suspect for First Degree Robbery in connection to Tuesday’s armed robbery of a Baskin Robbins.

READ: SPD searches for armed robber near Baskin-Robbins

During the standoff Wednesday, the officers said they gave the suspect repeated verbal commands to come out of the house and surrender peacefully.

Investigators said the suspect refused to comply with the officers directives to surrender. Police said officers believed the suspect posed a threat to the safety of other officers and the community and fired their weapons. It was not known if the suspect made threats to police that he would come out of the home shooting.

The police description seemed to differ not only from the video obtained by KREM 2 News, but also from witness accounts.

"He walked out a few steps. The officers, all I heard was them say 'drop it' and within seconds of them saying drop it, eight, seven to nine shots were fired by multiple officers," said nieghbor John Svaversson.

Another witness told KREM 2 News the suspect did not appear to raise the gun at all.

"He was gonna surrender and he was going to put it down on the ground and they shot him," said the woman.

Some witnesses told KREM 2 News they heard seven shots fired while others said they heard ten.

A third witness said they ran outside after the shots were fired and an officer told him it was not safe for him to be outside. The officer told the witness to go back indoors, according to the witness.

Life saving measures were taken by a SWAT medic and other officers, according to police. Police added a handgun was located on the porch in close proximity to where the suspect was standing.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives said they would continue their investigation into the series of armed robberies.  As part of the investigation, a search warrant was to be executed at the home on Grace.

The identity and official cause of death of the suspect will be released by the Spokane County Medical Examiner.

*Previous video showing the complete shooting has been removed. A KREM 2 News employee posted the video on a Facebook page. It is KREM 2’s policy not to show a moment of death or traumatic injury. For this reason, we have chosen to only show edited versions of the deadly Spokane Police Department shooting from March 26, 2014.