A dispatch call details what happened in the two minutes before an Olympia police officer reported he shot two suspects Thursday morning.
Officers can be heard communicating while searching for two suspects who reportedly assaulted a grocery store clerk with glass beer bottles they were attempting to steal.
Then one officer, Ryan Donald, reports that he has found two suspects with skateboards. Within the next two minutes, both suspects — step brothers Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21 of Olympia — were shot and laying in the middle of Cooper Point Road.
“I got shots fired, I believe one of them is hit, both of them are running northbound on Cooper Point,” Ryan is heard saying on the recording, shortly after reporting that he spotted the suspects.
“They are in the woods,” Donald then reported. “They’re right here in the woods. I believe they are heading west through the woods.”
Seconds pass before the dispatcher asks if the suspects have a weapon.
“No,” Donald said. “He was assaulting me with his skateboard. I tried to grab his friend. They are very aggressive, just so you know.”
More seconds pass before Donald reports searching the wood line along the street.
“I got movement in the woods right here,” he said before the recording goes briefly silent again. But not for long.
“I got one at gunpoint,” he called out.
And then seconds later, “I got both of them, I need assistance.”
Ten seconds after that, Donald got on the radio again.
“Shots fired. One down,” he said.
“I got two down,” he follows. “They are shot.”
In the background, a person can be heard moaning and screaming on the recording as Donald reports to dispatch and requests for backup. The moaning can be heard throughout the rest of the recording as multiple officers report back to dispatch.
Thompson and Chaplin were taken to local hospitals; Chaplin was in critical condition Thursday. Chaplin has since been moved to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center where he remains in serious condition. Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts has said that both brothers are expected to survive.
The shooting and the issue of race
The Olympia community responded with a protest Thursday night after the shooting; many chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Officer Donald is white. Thompson and Chaplin are black.
Chief Roberts said Thursday morning that race did ‘not play a factor’ Thursday morning when a white police officer shot two unarmed young black men.
“There is no indication to me that race was a factor in this at all,” Roberts said at a news conference.
Olympia police said Thursday afternoon that both men, identified as Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, who are step-brothers from Olympia, are expected to survive. Chaplin is in critical condition and Thompson in serious condition.
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.”
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum has asked the community to hold off any reactions while an investigation into the shooting is carried out.
“This is a tragic event. It deeply saddens me that we have two young people in the hospital after a confrontation with the law … Olympia is a community that cares deeply about social justice,” Buxbaum said. “I think that with a dramatic incident like this, and it is a dramatic incident, that we stand together.”
“Let’s not be reactive. Let’s take the path of consciously addressing our questions, and seek justice,” he said. “We will learn from this and as a result, I believe we will be stronger.”
Shortly after the briefing, a small group of protesters gathered outside the Olympia City Hall. That grew to hundreds of protesters that spread into in the streets of Olympia Thursday night, chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice No Peace” and the names of the men who were shot.
Chief Roberts said the police officer, Ryan Donald, shot two suspects after they allegedly attempted to steal beer at a grocery store in Olympia.
The two suspects reportedly threw the beer at employees after being confronted at the Westside Safeway (3200 block of Harrison Avenue) and fled before 9-1-1 was called around 1 a.m. The call was for an assault involving shoplifting.
An investigation is underway
Donald found the two suspects matching the description nearby on Cooper Point Road at 1:14 a.m. By 1:16 a.m. he notified dispatch that he was assaulted by a suspect with a skateboard, and that there was a shooting. The officer shot both suspects in the chest.
“What I know is that there was a confrontation with the officer at the rear of the car and then another one across the street,” Roberts said Thursday mornging.
“What we do know is that the officer, over the air, reported being assaulted by a subject with a skateboard,” he said.
Two skateboards were later collected as evidence.
Roberts said that Donald got into a confrontation with the suspects at the rear of his patrol car and shot one of the men in the chest. The two suspects then ran into a tree line alongside the road. Donald stopped his pursuit at the edge of the road.
The two suspects then emerged back onto the road where another confrontation occurred with the officer, and the second man was shot multiple times in the chest.
“When the subjects came out of the wood line, the officer was there,” Roberts said. “And there was some sort of confrontation there, and the officer felt threatened.”
Roberts noted that police policy allows officers to defend themselves if they face threat or harm from a subject with a weapon or an object that can be used as a weapon.
The incident was witnessed by Jasmine Thompson, a sister of the two suspects. Thompson was driving by when the shooting happened and told KING 5 that her brother was just standing there.
“We thought the gunshots might come through the car,” Thompson told KING 5. “And I turned around and looked out the rear view mirror and I saw the cop shoot the guy three more times — which was my brother — and I saw my brother drop to the ground.”
“I didn’t see my other brother get shot, but I saw my brother get shot and he was just standing there,” she said.
Donald has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation by the Thurston County Critical Incident Team, a multi-agency team. He is a three-year member of the Olympia force.
Roberts said the investigation will take about three to six weeks. Witnesses are being interviewed. Investigators have spoken with Chaplin.
The City of Olympia has set up a website for residents to find information about the incident.
Roberts said that Olympia police officers do not carry body cams on them and their patrol cars do not have dash cameras.