Island County authorities on Monday released a 29-year-old man local police believe assaulted a man on November 17. The victim, 23-year-old Chris Cooper, is in a coma at Harborview Medical Center, where doctors have told family he has little chance of survival.
“We talk to him and the nurses talk to him,” said Chris’s father Terry. “There’s no response, no movement. He just lays there.”
Oak Harbor Police said Cooper and another man were leaving a bar when an altercation took place. Cooper was punched several times, according to Chief Ed Green.
“From all the evidence and information we have, it indicates he attacked (Cooper),” said Chief Green.
The key evidence is cell phone video taken by Cooper during the incident, authorities said. Chief Green said it indicates a verbal confrontation between the two men in a parking lot near City Beach and SW Pioneer Way. However, detectives think it was the other man who threw the first punch.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks saw it a different way, and the suspect was released Monday.
“He’s wrong,” Banks said, referring to Chief Green’s assessment of the evidence. “He’s telling you that, I’m telling you he’s wrong.”
Banks contends the cell phone video proves the suspect’s claim of self-defense. As tragic as the outcome may have been, Banks said, at this point the evidence does not point to a crime.
“There is not sufficient evidence to hold him,” explained Banks, “not sufficient evidence to charge him.”
KING 5 is not naming the suspect since he was not formally charged.
Chief Green said his detectives should have more information later this week which could help determine possible charges.
Cooper said his son has very little chance of survival.
“Whether he knows what he did or not,” Terry Cooper said. “I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense.”