Yakima County Prosecutor Rules Deadly SWAT Shooting in Selah Was - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima County Prosecutor Rules Deadly SWAT Shooting in Selah Was Justified

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YAKIMA, WA -- What follows is a press release from the Yakima County Prosecutor's Office: 

Re: Officer Involved Shooting - SWAT shooting  - January 3, 2014 - WSP# 14-000172


Dear Detective Neustral:


The Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney's Office acknowledges receipt of the  investigative reports prepared by the Washington State Patrol concerning the above noted incident, and have now have completed our review of the investigative materials.


Relevant statutory provisions:


RCW 9A.16.040(1)(b) provides in part that the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is justified when necessarily used by a peace officer to overcome actual resistance to the execution of the legal process, mandate, or order of a court or officer, or in the discharge of a legal duty.


RCW 9A.16.040(c)(i) permits the use of deadly force necessarily used to arrest or apprehend a person the officer reasonably believes has or is committing a felony.  In such a situation, the officer must have probable cause to believe the person, if not apprehended, poses a 


threat of physical harm to officers and others.  Circumstances which are considered threats of physical harm include the situation where the person threatens the officer with a weapon or displays a weapon in a manner which could be reasonably construed as threatening.


            Relevant facts:


On January 3, 2014, at approximately 3:00 pm., law enforcement officers from the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, Selah Police Department, Yakima County Violent Crimes Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation went to 435 S. Rushmore Road, Selah, Washington, to execute a search warrant that had been obtained as part of a theft investigation.


Upon initial entry onto the property, officers encountered several individuals in various residences on the property. Officers approached a motor home on the property intending to secure and clear the motorhome.  Officers knocked and announced their presence, but received no response. Officers breached the door.  Before the officers could make entry, a male later identified as Jesse Humphrey ("Humphrey"), responded by shouting profanities and dared them to come in.  The officers backed away from the motorhome and gave commands over a PA system for anyone inside the motorhome to come out.  A female exited the motorhome, but Humphrey did not.


Humphrey then began firing rounds from multiple weapons from the inside through the walls and windows of the motorhome at the officers.  The officers retreated and took cover behind patrol and abandoned vehicles and a mobile home on the property.  Humphrey continued to fire from inside the travel trailer with multiple firearms.  The firing was directed at the location where some of the officers had taken cover, pinning them at those location.


At some point, Humphrey started the motorhome, and began to back it up towards the officers pinned down behind vehicles.  Officers were able to flatten the motorhome tires, causing Humphrey to stop his attempt to move the motorhome.  Humphrey then resumed firing at the officers.  


The SWAT team was called out and arrived approximately one to one and half hours later.  Upon arrival, SWAT positioned two snipers in a field south of the motorhome, and the others began an approach of the motorhome. While SWAT approached, Humphrey fired at the officers and the armored vehicle being used in the approach. SWAT members returned fire into the motorhome.  Communication with Humphrey was established and crisis negotiators began attempts to get Humphrey to surrender. During the negotiations, Humphrey made numerous threats to the officers and continued firing at the officers on scene.


The decision was made to deploy noise diversionary devices and gas in and around the motorhome, with the intent to rescue the pinned officers.  After deployment of the devices and gas, Humphrey was observed by the snipers emerging from the door of the motorhome with a dark object in his hands. It should be noted that the other SWAT members were on the other side of the motorhome and unable to see Humphrey.  At that time, both snipers fired, one of the rounds striking Humphrey. Humphrey fell to the ground just outside the door.  Sgt. J. Towell ("Towell") of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, who had been one of the officers pinned behind a vehicle near the motorhome, could see Humphrey and ordered Humphrey to remain on the ground and not to move.  Humphrey remained on the ground, but shouted obscenities and was observed moving around as if looking for something and saying "where's my gun."  As Humphrey attempted to sit up, Towell was afraid that SWAT members were unaware of Humphrey's presence outside the motorhome, and based on Humphrey's statement and apparent attempt to get a weapon, and fear that Humphrey was preparing to fire at the officers as they approached, Towell fired one round at Humphrey.


As SWAT officers turned the corner they observed Humphrey on the ground.  As they approached, Humphrey was told to show his hands. Humphrey responded by shouting profanities, giving officers the finger and throwing a stick at them.  Humphrey then reached down into his waistband area. Humphrey was told to stop and show his hand, but did not comply and continued to reach for his waistband as if to recover a weapon.  As a result of the action of Humphrey and concerns that he was grabbing for a weapon to be used against them, some of the SWAT officers then fired their weapons, striking Humphrey.


Humphrey was secured and first aid was started.  When Humphrey was rolled over, officers located a loaded .22 caliber pistol underneath him and a loaded .223 caliber assault rifle on the ground below the motorhome door and within 2-6 feet of where Humphrey was on the ground.  Located inside the motorhome were a 12 gauge shotgun, .22 caliber handgun and a stole .45 caliber handgun.


Conclusion:


Humphrey was in possession of multiple firearms, including an automatic assault rifle and actively engaged in shooting at multiple officers, while in the performance of their official duties, including pinning down multiple officers by firing rounds at the officers and their locations.  Despite negotiations in an effort to have Humphrey surrender, he responded by continuing  to shoot at officers with multiple weapons.   Some of the shots were aimed at and struck an armored transport vehicle being used by SWAT, and which contained SWAT members. In the end, Humphrey exited the motorhome with the assault rifle and a handgun, and showed no intent to surrender.  Despite being shot twice outside the motorhome, and despite commands to remain down and show his hands, Humphrey searched for and then reached for a weapon underneath him.  Humphrey's act of reaching for a weapon justified a reasonable belief on the part of SWAT officers, as well as other officers, under the circumstances at the time and as they appeared to the officers, that Humphrey posed an immediate threat of death and/or physical injury to the officers.  I conclude that the officers were justified in the use of deadly force.


Should anything further be need, please contact me.


                                                                                    Sincerely,


                                                                                    James P. Hagarty


                                                                                    Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney

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