Two Shelton Police officers could face charges for using excessive force during an incident in late May that was caught on video. Both officers involved were wearing body cameras and the Shelton Police Department released the videos Wednesday. The videos show the officers going up stairs leading to the back of of St. David’s Parish/Community Lifeline in the 200 block of North 3rd Street to contact a man reported sleeping on the landing. You can hear the officers identifying themselves, commanding the man to show his hands several times before using pepper spray. The man still didn’t comply and instead started to rise. That is when the officers became physical in order to subdue him.
The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office completed an investigation into the incident. A report on that investigation says “It does not appear that this level of force was necessary…” or “reasonable”. The report goes on to conclude “Since the use of force was not necessary or reasonable, it is therefore unlawful.” Saying the officers “intentionally assaulted” the subject and “thereby recklessly inflicted substantial bodily harm, thus being Assault 2nd degree.”
The case has been turned over to the Mason County Prosecutor who will decide whether charges will be brought against the officers. Both are on paid administrative leave and both have more that 10 years experience.
The following is a news release from the police department:
On May 25, 2017 at approximately 1:40 a.m., two Shelton police officers had contact with a subject regarding a possible trespass violation on private property. A struggle ensued and the subject was then arrested.
Later that same day, the Shelton Police Chief was alerted regarding the possible use of excessive force during the arrest. This prompted a review of the reports written by the arresting officers and the body cam video. Following the review, supervisors placed both officers on administrative leave. The Thurston County Sheriff’s office was asked to conduct an external criminal investigation on the incident. This was done to ensure that a thorough and accurate investigation of the incident could be completed, and to ensure transparent accountability for all involved.
On July 5, 2017 Thurston County Detectives met with Mason County Prosecutors and the Shelton Police Department to inform them the case would be referred to the prosecutor for possible criminal charges against the officers. The officers remain on administrative leave through the completion of the internal personnel investigation.
Protecting the community is at the core of what we do. We ensure our officers undergo extensive training that emphasizes the need to understand and appreciate their authority and limitations.
Giving officers the authority to use reasonable force and protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation, and careful balancing of all interests. The department has extensive operational policies and training procedures in place to ensure that officers are prepared to protect our community in all situations. Following this incident, we are examining our policies and procedures as we are committed to ensuring the public’s trust to protect and serve.