Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prosecutors clear SPD officer in fatal South Hill shooting from February

Posted By on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 3:46 PM

The Spokane County Prosecutor's Office has cleared a Spokane Police officer in the fatal shooting of 52-year-old Jacob Dorfman during a Feb. 5 confrontation on the South Hill.

Officer Adam Valdez has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting after the Prosecutor's Office found his use of deadly force was justified. The Prosecutor's Office reports Dorfman had raised a handgun toward a nearby officer moments before the shooting.

"Officer Valdez had probable cause to believe that Mr. Dorfman posed a threat of serious physical harm," the report states.

In his incident review report, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll writes Dorfman had been acting erratically, firing off multiple shots, before he encountered officers shortly before 1:30 a.m. near the intersection of 8th and Adams streets.

"Mr. Dorfman, apparently having previously ingested both methamphetamine and oxycodone," Driscoll writes, "and not having slept in four or five days since being released from jail, armed himself with a gun after his girlfriend told him it was over between them and he needed to leave."

Investigators say Dorfman fired at least one shot inside his girlfriend's apartment before heading outside, armed with a .40-caliber Glock and shirtless.

Neighbors told investigators Dorfman started screaming for help and calling his girlfriend's name out in the street. He continued to carry the handgun and reportedly fired shots into the air.

When police arrived, they ordered Dorfman to drop the weapon, but he fled. Investigators say Dorfman jumped into a Jeep and sped away. He soon crashed into the Ace Hardware store along the 900 block of South Monroe Street.

Officer Shawn Kendall and Valdez converged on the crashed Jeep. Valdez told investigators he saw Dorfman raise his handgun toward Kendall and shouted for him to drop the weapon.

Valdez says he then fired five shots through the passenger-side window, killing Dorfman. Investigators recovered a handgun from the floor of the Jeep.

An autopsy and toxicology report later found methamphetamine and oxycodone in Dorfman's system. 

In his report, Driscoll writes Valdez feared for his fellow officer's safety as well as the safety of the general public.

"Additionally, there is no indication that Officer Valdez was acting with malice, or evil intent, towards Mr. Dorfman," Driscoll writes, "but that he was acting with a good faith belief that his actions were justified."

The multi-agency Spokane Investigation Regional Response Team, led by the Washington State Patrol, oversaw the investigation into the shooting. With the review finalized, they announced the case closed.

The SIRR Team continues to investigate the May 16 fatal officer-involved shooting of 21-year-old Justin Cairns. Valdez was also named in that shooting alongside two other officers.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub announced the department will still conduct an Internal Affairs investigation and convene a Deadly Force Review Board on the matter.

"The actions taken by our officers on February 5, 2013 demonstrate the bravery of the men and women of the Spokane Police Department," Straub says in a statement, "and their commitment to protect our community from those who threaten its safety."

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About The Author

Jacob Jones

Staff writer Jacob Jones covers criminal justice, natural resources, military issues and organized labor for the Inlander.