UPDATE: Officials Release Name and Official Account of Events in Officer Involved Shooting Wednesday Night

 YAKIMA, WA - The Yakima County Prosecutor has made a ruling about a fatal officer involved shooting last November.  The Prosecutor says Yakima County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Steadman was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed Anthony La Violette.  During a chase with deputies, La Violette drove a stolen car off the road near the intersection of Highway 12 and Ackley road, then drove at Deputy Steadman standing near the car with his gun drawn.  The prosecutor says a witness inside the car testified that La Violette tried to run the deputy over and told the deputy to shoot him.  Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Brusic's entire letter to the Yakima County Sheriff's Office and Washington State Patrol explaining his decision is posted below.  

Yakima County Sheriff Brian Winter

Yakima County Sheriff's Office

1822 S. 1st Street

PO Box 1388

Yakima, WA 98907

WSP Detective S.E. Reeves #1033

Washington State Patrol

2715 Rudkin Road

Union Gap, W A 98903

Joseph A. Brusic

Prosecuting Attorney

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

128 North Second Street, Room 329

Yakima, W A 98901

Phone: (509) 574-1210 Fax: (509) 574-1211

joseph.brusic@co.yakima.wa.us

April21, 2015

RE.: Officer Involved Shooting

YCSO Deputy Matthew Steadman

November 5, 2014

WSP Case No. 14-019839

The following decision regarding the officer involved shooting as indicated above is based upon

the reports and documents that I have received from the Washington State Patrol and the Yakima

County Sheriff's Office after completion of their full investigation surrounding this shooting of

Anthony D. LaViolette. The Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has now completed

its review of the reports, videos, recordings and various statements created during that

investigation.

The relevant statute pertaining to an officer involved shooting is RCW 9A.16.040- Justifiable

homicide or use of deadly force by public officer, peace officer, person aiding. The specific

sections in the Revised Code ofWashington are RCW 9A.l6.040(l)(b) and RCW

9A.16.040(1)(c)(i). In addition, RCW 9A.16.040(2) delineates how deadly force is to be used

under subsection (1 )(c). RCW 9A.l6.040(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(1)(c)(i) permits the use of deadly force if necessarily used by a peace officer to

arrest or apprehend a person who the officer reasonably believes has committed, has attempted

to commit, is committing, or is attempting to commit a felony. In such a situation, the officer

must have probable cause to believe the suspect, if not apprehended, poses a threat of serious

physical harm to the officer or a threat of serious physical harm to others. Circumstances which

may be considered by peace officers as a "threat of serious physical harm" include the situation

where the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or displays a weapon in a manner that

could be reasonably construed as threatening or there is probable cause to believe that the

suspect has committed any crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious

physical harm. Under these circumstances deadly force may also be used ~f necessary to prevent

escape from the officer, where, if feasible, some warning is given.

Finally, the key statutory provision involving a justifiable homicide by a law enforcement officer

is RCW 9A.16.040(3) which states the following:

A public officer or peace officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force

without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable pursuant to this section.

The following facts are relevant to my decision determining whether this homicide was

justifiable or not based upon the investigation performed by law enforcement.

On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, Anthony La Violette, Angela Johnson and a juvenile (DOB

04-11-1998) were involved in the theft of a bicycle in the Gleed area of Yakima County. The

victim of this theft called 9-1-1 at approximately 4:10pm that afternoon and reported this theft

and indicated he was following the suspect vehicle. The vehicle being driven was a green 1993

Honda Civic hatchback. This vehicle had been reported stolen to the Yakima Police Department

the day before, November 4, 2014. The suspects were initially headed towards Naches, WA on

State Route 12. Three Yakima County Sheriff deputies responded to the report, Matthew

Steadman, Eric Wolfe and Dan Cypher. The suspects shortly thereafter turned around and

headed back towards Yakima. Both Deputy Wolfe and Steadman then pursued the vehicle

which was traveling at a high rate of speed, estimates being given of over 100 m.p.h. Wolfe was

behind the car with his lights and siren activated and Deputy Steadman was following as well.

This pursuit continued until the suspect vehicle lost control at the intersection of State Route 12

and Ackley Road. The vehicle attempted to tum onto Ackley Road off of State Route 12, lost

control and went down an embankment. It came to rest southbound perpendicular to a barbed

wire fence.

Deputy Wolfe pulled his vehicle onto Ackley and faced north. Deputy Steadman stopped his

vehicle on Highway 12 near the intersection with Ackley Road. Deputy Steadman started

heading towards the car in which the occupants remained. The driver, Mr. La Violette, was

actively attempting to get the vehicle unstuck from the fence and drive it. Deputy Wolfe

observed Deputy Steadman approach the car with his duty weapon drawn. The suspect vehicle

moved approximately 6 feet in reverse before making a turning movement towards State Route

12. At this point, the vehicle was clearly turned towards SR12 and the driver was continually

revving the engine and attempting to get back onto the highway. This was clearly the conclusion

of the male eyewitness stopped on Ackley who observed the incident. Deputy Steadman was

now in front of the car and it was headed at him in the attempt to enter the highway.

The officers were in full uniform and they were driving marked patrol vehicles. They also had

utilized their lights and siren in pursuit of the car. Deputy Steadman was yelling at the driver of

the car to stop and tum the car off. Both Ms. Johnson and the male juvenile indicated in

statements that the police officer at the front of the car was yelling to stop and get out of the car.

The two independent male eyewitnesses at the scene also indicated that they heard the officer

yell stop to the driver before any shots were fired. Deputy Steadman then yelled to the driver to

stop or he would shoot. The driver then accelerated rapidly towards Steadman. The car had

gained traction. Deputy Steadman, with gun drawn, based upon his perception at that moment,

believed he was going to be run over by the vehicle. At no time did the decedent attempt to stop

the car and heed the officers' commands. The suspect's car traveled approximately 37 feet

towards Deputy Steadman and the highway before coming to rest once it had become parallel

with the fence. The juvenile male in the car with the decedent indicated that Mr. La Violette was

"pretending" to run the officer over and that he did drive towards the officer, hitting him. The

juvenile male also indicated that once La Violette heard the officer say he was going to shoot, he

heard him say" ... well then shoot me." Then, per the juvenile, he "tried to run him over."

Deputy Steadman feared that he would be seriously injured or killed at that point unless he fired

upon the driver. Steadman fired his .40 caliber Glock at the driver, striking him four times, as he

backpedaled to get out of the car's way. The vehicle slowly rolled to a stop but struck Steadman

before it came to rest, knocking him to the ground. Deputy Wolfe then kicked the driver's side

window out and both he and Steadman pulled the driver out ofthe vehicle and administered aid

until further support arrived at the scene. Mr. La Violette was later pronounced dead at the scene.

This was an excellent investigation by the various police department personnel involved,

especially the Washington State Patrol. I conclude that based upon the facts as I know them

from the complete investigation that was made and presented to me, Yakima County Sheriffs

Deputy Matthew Steadman was justified in his use of deadly force under the circumstances as

they appeared to him at the scene of State Route 12 and Ackley Road on November 5, 2014.

Anthony La Violette was involved in the theft of a bicycle which was in the stolen car he was

driving that afternoon. He attempted to elude the pursuing officers who utilized lights and siren

at speeds over 100 m.p.h. The vehicle left the roadway and became initially stuck against a

fence until being freed and turned back up to the highway. Deputy Steadman attempted to stop

the driver using verbal commands which went unheeded. The decedent made no effort to stop

and, in fact, drove straight at the officer who was in full uniform with his gun drawn. But for the

officer firing at the suspect, he would have been run over by the car. I conclude that the officer,

under these facts, had probable cause to believe that the suspect, if not apprehended, posed a

threat of serious physical harm to the officer or serious physical harm to others by reentering the

highway. Mr. LaViolette was using the vehicle he was driving as a "deadly weapon" as defined

under RCW 9A.04.110 which states the following:

"Deadly weapon" means any explosive or loaded or unloaded ftrearm, and shall include any other weapon, device,

instrument, article, or substance, including a "vehicle" as deftned in this section, which under the circumstances in

which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing death or substantial

bodily harm. "

Deputy Steadman also was attempting to prevent escape after he had given clear commands to

stop.

Finally, I find no evidence to show that Steadman used deadly force with malice which is

manifested through an "evil intent, wish or design to ... injure another person." Additionally,

Deputy Steadman acted in good faith and with lawfulness of purpose. The evidence is clear that

Deputy Steadman had probable cause to believe there existed a very real threat of serious

physical harm to him or others and, thus, the deadly force used by him was reasonable and

necessary considering all the circumstances presented at that time.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience if there is additional evidence that comes to light

or if anything else is needed.

Sincerely,

Joseph Brusic

Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney

Yakima, WA

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