In the wake of last night's fatal officer-involved shooting, Spokane investigators have again converged on the scene of a deadly confrontation to determine what led to gunfire outside a North Spokane home. Law enforcement officers must often make split-second decisions under life-threatening circumstances, but many throughout the community may see an opportunity to ask how such tragedies may be avoided. In this instance, the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team (SIRR) will again handle the investigation, led by the Washington State Patrol.
Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub plans to offer a one-year update today at City Hall regarding the department's efforts to adopt new reforms recommended by the city's Use of Force Commission in February of 2013. Those recommendations include implementing officer-mounted body cameras and evaluating use of force protocols.
Last night's incident marks the fourth shooting directly involving a Spokane Police officer since the City Council approved funding last April for body cameras to record controversial encounters. Police officials expect to deploy those cameras this fall after several delays to pin down specific policies and protocols for their use. There have also been three shootings involving Spokane County Sheriff's deputies during that time.
Here is a list of Spokane area officer-involved shootings since the beginning of 2013:
• March 26, 2014: Spokane Police Department officers shoot and kill 30-year-old Steven C. Corkery* in a recent armed robbery investigation after staking out a North Spokane home most of the day. Investigators have not identified the suspect or officers involved. They say a handgun was located nearby. Early reports indicate witnesses captured aspects of the shooting on cell phone video. The Washington State Patrol is leading the investigation.
• March 4, 2014: Spokane County Sheriff's deputies shoot and injure 37-year-old Bonnie Ulrick during a standoff at a Motel 6 in Spokane Valley. Ulrick suffered a gunshot wound to her hand after allegedly making a threatening motion with a firearm. Deputy Mike McNees, a member of Spokane County SWAT, was named as the deputy who fired. The WSP continues the investigation.
• Feb. 11, 2014: Spokane County Sheriff's deputies shoot and kill 23-year-old Jedadiah Zillmer in a confrontation near the Spokane Valley Mall after Zillmer allegedly made a threatening move with a firearm. Zillmer, a former Army soldier, had led authorities on a lengthy highway pursuit. Investigators say he was armed with multiple weapons and made statements he wanted to die. Investigators say aspects of this shooting were captured by the body camera of a Liberty Lake police officer on scene. Six deputies, including Brian Hirzel, Brett Hubbell, Dale Moyer, Jeff Thurman, Ryan Walter and Randy Watts were listed as firing their weapons. The Spokane Police Department continues investigation.
• Jan. 16, 2014: Spokane Police Department officers shoot and wound 29-year-old Aaron D. Johnson outside the Truth Ministries shelter on East Sprague. Johnson, who has a history of minor crimes and schizophrenia, allegedly threatened staff at the shelter before police confronted him behind the building. Officers Christopher Conrath, Holton Widhalm, Michael Schneider and Sgt. Terry Preuninger were named in the incident. Schneider attempted to taser Johnson. Conrath and Widhalm then fired their pistols. The WSP continues the investigation.
• Aug. 22, 2013: Spokane Police Department officers shoot and kill 40-year-old Danny C. Jones in his truck outside the Salvation Army shelter on Indiana Ave. Jones had allegedly struck another vehicle while driving and officers boxed in his vehicle outside the shelter. He then allegedly rammed police vehicles before multiple officers opened fire. Records indicate aspects of this shooting were captured by nearby surveillance cameras. Officers named in the shooting include Lt. Kevin King, and Officers Robert Collins, Corey Lyons and Scott Lesser. The Spokane Sheriff's Office handled the investigation.
• June 1, 2013: Spokane County Sheriff's deputies shoot and kill 48-year-old Roy Jacobs in his living room in Spokane Valley. Jacobs had called to turn himself in on a warrant when deputies responded to his apartment. When they arrived, Jacobs was allegedly drunk and holding a long knife. When he reportedly moved toward deputies, he was shot and killed. Deputy Jerad Kiehn fired the fatal shots. The Spokane County Prosecutor's Office later cleared him of any wrongdoing.
• May 16, 2013: Spokane Police Department officers shoot and kill 21-year-old Justin Cairns during a confrontation following a separate shooting. Investigators say Cairns killed 33-year-old Cyrus Jones shortly before officers tracked him to his grandparents' home in Nine Mile Falls. We had previously written about Cairns' attempts to move beyond his juvenile criminal past. Officers Jake Jensen, Danny Lesser and Adam Valdez were named in the shooting. The Spokane County Sheriff's Office led the investigation.
• Feb. 5, 2013: A Spokane Police Department officer shoots and kills 52-year-old Jacob Dorfman in an early morning confrontation on the South Hill. Dorfman has reportedly fired a handgun into the air and fled officers in a Jeep following an argument with his girlfriend. Officer Adam Valdez says Dorfman raised his gun toward an officer and Valdez opened fire through the window of the Jeep, killing Dorfman. The Prosecutor's Office later cleared Valdez of any wrongdoing.