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Ron Upshaw: Don’t dismiss race so quickly in Olympia shooting

Olympia's chief of police quickly announced that race was not a factor in a shooting that sent two black men to the hospital on Thursday. But was it might have been too quick, KIRO Radio's Ron Upshaw said.

Olympia’s chief of police quickly announced that race was not a factor in a shooting that sent two black men to the hospital on Thursday.

But was it too quick?

Chief Ronnie Roberts told reporters that race didn’t play a part in the shooting of Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, who are step-brothers from Olympia. However, he wouldn’t comment on the officer involved.

For the chief to say he can’t speak about the officer involved and then speculate on another question does not seem like a well thought-out process, KIRO Radio’s Ron Upshaw said.

“He needs to have the presence of mind that it’s a white officer and two black guys who were shot,” Ron said. “You have to have awareness.

Related: Olympia officer shoots two men suspected of shoplifting beer

“You can’t say race didn’t play a factor.”

The chief was later asked, in an afternoon news conference, how it could be determined so quickly that race wasn’t a factor.

“I was asked, I believe, related to whether race was an issue in this situation,” Roberts explained. “What I said was, I have no indication that that was. Whether that is or not, that will be determined by the investigation. I have nothing that leads me to believe that it was a factor. There may be something that could come up that could change that.”

Instead of saying all that, the chief should say something like: “I’m going to need more information. If race was a factor, we’ll look into it,” Ron suggested.

The step-brothers were carrying skateboards at the time of the shooting. The officer involved was allegedly assault with a skateboard.

“Is it appropriate to shoot someone with a skateboard?” Ron asked.

Skateboards can be used as weapons, KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill pointed out.

“If you’re beating me with a skateboard, I’m probably using my gun,” Don said. Especially if it is two versus one; a stun gun is not going to win that fight.

If the officer was injured with a skateboard, now would probably be a good time to prove it, Ron said. However, assault doesn’t mean it left a mark, Don responded. Spitting on someone, for example, is assault.

There were no body cams or dash cams at the scene of the shooting. There’s a possibility the public will never know if the officer was assaulted with a skateboard, Don said.

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