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No criminal charges for Spokane officers involved in fatal shooting of armed man

Spokane police found multiple knives at the location of a officer involved shooting on N. Monroe Ave. which ended in the death of Dwight Steward.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane County announced on Tuesday that the two officers involved in the January 2019 shooting of a man armed with knives will not face charges.

Spokane police officers Tyler Fisher and Jordan Orrell were found to be justified in using lethal force against 46-year-old Dwight D. Steward on January 23, 2019, according to Spokane County Communications Manager Jared Webley.

According to Webley, Steward was "rapidly approaching and was within mere feet of the officers while wielding a large knife in each of his hands and ignoring multiple commands to drop them."

The shooting took place near the intersection of North Monroe and West Fairview Ave.

The Spokane County Medical Examiner determined Steward died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Fisher has been with the Spokane Police Department since May of 2014 and has worked in law enforcement for almost a decade. He also served four years in the Army and did one tour in Iraq. Fisher was honorably discharged in 2005.  

Orrell has been with SPD since April 2018. He previously worked for Wenatchee police from 2006 to 2018. During that time, he was also a narcotics detective with the Columbia River Drug Task Force for five years.   

According to an evidence list, police recovered six knives from the scene, including a machete and a "fixed blade knife with metal knuckles." Other knives included a "wood handle folding knife," a knife that had been wrapped in duct tape, a folding knife with a black handle and a "fixed blade knife with curved blade."

Steward had approached the officers and produced two knives from his waistband after ignoring commands, according to a probable cause declaration in court documents. It is unclear which knives listed as evidence were the ones Steward pulled on officers.

Spokane NAACP President Kurtis Robinson said in a release on Jan. 24 that he had spoken with the Spokane Police Department about the incident and that the group is waiting for more details.

"Our understanding is that: yes, it is a fatal shooting; yes it was a black male; and, that according to the officers, they made several attempts to talk him down as the individual continued to approach officers while brandishing a knife," Robinson wrote. "Our organization and our community partners will continue to monitor the situation."

Assistant Spokane Police Chief Justin Lundgren said the department received a call at 3:35 p.m. on Jan. 23 about a man threatening people with a gun. When officers arrived on scene, they were unable to locate the suspect and began searching the area.

Shortly after they arrived on scene, officers got another call saying the man had returned to the location. 

Lundgren said officers contacted the man, who was armed with a knife, and started giving him verbal commands. 

Authorities said the officers tried to de-escalate the situation but the man began walking toward the officers. Lundgren said that is when shots were fired. 

Officers immediately began life-saving treatment but the man later died. 

Witness Justin Miller said he heard the shooting from his home nearby.

"I was just in the window... talking to my daughters on the phone. And all the sudden I saw the cop car coming around the corner in pursuit and I went outside, and I heard, 'Drop it, drop it. And I heard about four gunshots, maybe. Maybe five," he said. 

Miller watched as police tried to save the man's life. He shared video with KREM showing officers performing CPR.

"When I got there he was on the ground, wasn't moving," Miller said.

Lundgren said the officers on scene were equipped with body cameras, which were reviewed by investigators. 

None of the officers were injured. 

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