Second fatal shooting for officer named in deadly Spokane standoff



Posted on September 27, 2011 at 12:07 AM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 6:27 PM

SPOKANE-- Detectives continue investigating Monday night’s officer-involved shooting at Seventh and Hatch.

James E. Rogers was shot and killed during an armed confrontation with police.  The suicidal man was fleeing officers at his workplace when he crashed his van and refused repeated requests to disarm himself and surrender.

On Thursday, police released the name of the officer involved in Monday's deadly standoff. The officer was identified as 16 year veteran Dan Lesser, a member of SPD SWAT.

This is Lesser's second officer involved shooting. In 2009 Lesser chased after and shot the man who intentionaly shot Var his K-9 partner.

Police say at this time most officer and citizen interviews have been conducted, and investigators released some new information regarding the incident.

Police say James Edward Rogers had been making suicidal statements for several hours before he drove his father’s van to his workplace at 811 S. Hatch.  At the business, SL Start, he called from the parking lot and spoke with a co-worker.

She called 911 to report he was making suicidal statements, was armed and had fired a shot in the parking lot.  A sheriff’s K-9 team later recovered a spent shotgun wad from the area where
Rogers had been parked.

Spokane Police began responding to the “suicide attempt” call, but when they arrived and tried to contain Rogers, he drove the van across a lawn and around them.  He tipped the van on its side at Seventh and Hatch where officers saw him hanging from the driver’s seat, still manipulating the shotgun.

Officers began organizing to prevent Rogers’ escape into the neighborhood, but their efforts were complicated by the need to evacuate nearby residents and other citizens from within range of the armed suspect.  

A nearby medical facility had patients requiring transport out of the area, and they required police escorts through the outside perimeter of the crime scene.  Meanwhile, Rogers had dropped from his seat and was seen seated inside the van, still holding the shotgun.

The SPD SWAT team was summoned and two armored vehicles were brought in to provide cover for officers and negotiators.  SPD SWAT member Dan Lesser took up a position on top of one armored vehicle where he could see Rogers through the rear window of the overturned van.

Negotiators spoke with Rogers for about two hours.  However, at about 8:23 p.m., Rogers waved his hand at Lesser and then raised the shotgun and pointed it at him.

Fearing for his own safety, Lesser fired his rifle at Rogers. 

Rogers was struck by bullets and killed.  His shotgun was recovered by investigators that night. 

Detectives Wednesday executed a search warrant on the van and recovered three unfired shotgun slugs, a type of shell that has a single ball of lead rather than multiple smaller pellets.

They also recovered a suicide note from inside the van.

Detectives learned that Rogers had recently been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol and had a court appearance scheduled for last Monday afternoon.  He did not make that appearance and a warrant for Failure to Appear was subsequently issued.

Rogers’ father says his son had been depressed and stressed recently.  He also says Rogers stole his van and shotgun earlier in the day.

“I ran into my bedroom and sure enough the shotgun was gone,” said Alonzo Rogers, “I looked in the dresser and the dresser had been pulled out a little bit where he could get into the shells.  So I knew he was gonna do something tonight.”

Rogers’ family says they were on their way to help negotiators when the officers fired shots.

“All of a sudden I heard six shots and I said, ‘what’s that, why are you shooting my brother?’, and they were like, ‘I don’t know ma’am,’” said Rogers’ sister Angela Crigger.

Rogers’ sister says the shotgun he had was loaded, but she says the gun didn’t actually work.