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How often are police shootings ruled 'justified' in the Spokane area?

Two police shootings this year are still under investigation, while the other two have been ruled "justified." KREM looked into how often this happens.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Prosecutor Larry Haskell announced on Wednesday that no charges would be filed against Spokane Police Officer Brandon Rankin, who shot and killed 35-year-old David Novak in January.

Novak was the fourth person killed by police in Spokane County this year.

In 2018, there were also four people killed by police.

In 2017, that number was an unusually high six.

Two cases this year are still under investigation, while the other two have been ruled "justified."

KREM took a closer look at the numbers in officer-involved shooting investigations. In recent Spokane history, we could only find once time where an officer was charged with someone's death.

That is the case of Otto Zehm, which resulted in Officer Karl Thompson being sent to prison for four years.

RELATED: 8 years later: Otto Zehm case comes to a close

RELATED: Supreme Court declines appeal in Zehm case conviction

There have been a number of times, however, when families sued the city or county in civil court, where the burden of proof is slightly lower.

That will likely be the case with Novak, whose family's lawyer released a statement on Wednesday announcing an intention to launch a wrongful death suit.

In the past decade, there have been at least a half dozen times when the family of someone killed by police sued the city or county in civil court. 

Otto Zehm's family settled for $1.67 million.

The family of Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Creach settled for $2 million, paid out by the county's insurance company.

The family of Danny Jones, shot in a Salvation Army parking lot, got $103,500.

The family of Trent Yohe, who died several days after being restrained by deputies, got $50,000.

Another case, William Berger, who was killed following a choke hold, went to trial but the jury sided with the deputies.

RELATED: 'This system is sick': Family of man killed by Spokane police confronts prosecutor, police chief

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