Deliberations to begin in Olympia police assault trial

Did two black men threaten the life of a white police officer? The officer shot both of the men, and he was cleared of wrongdoing. The men survived, but they were charged with assault. Their trial is about to go to the jury.

After nearly two months of evidence, debates, and testimony, jurors will start deliberating Friday in the trial of two men accused of assaulting an Olympia police officer.

The officer, Ryan Donald, said the two men, brothers Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson, assaulted him in May 2015, prompting Donald to shoot and wound both men.

The case prompted downtown vandalism and brought the “Black Lives Matter” issue to the streets of Olympia. Donald is white, and Chaplin and Thompson are black.

The men survived the shooting, but Chaplin remains partially paralyzed.

Donald was cleared of wrongdoing, but Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim charged the men with assault.

Neither of the brothers testified during the trial.

But Donald testified he feared for his life when he saw the skateboard being raised above him before he opened fire.

“I decided to protect myself,” testified Donald. “I was going to use deadly force to prevent myself from being harmed or severely injured by the skateboard.”

Prosecutors argued the brothers started the incident by refusing to stop for the officer. Donald said the men matched the description of two suspects who had tried to steal beer from a nearby Safeway.

“He felt his life was in jeopardy,” prosecuting attorney Scott Jackson told jurors during closing arguments Thursday.

George Trejo, defense attorney for Chaplin, argued the state does not have physical enough evidence to convict his client.

“Without Officer Donald’s testimony there’s no disputing the state doesn’t have a case,” said Trejo.

Thompson’s defense attorney, Sunni Ko, said the evidence suggests a completely different shooting scenario and raised what she considered inconsistencies in Donald’s interviews with investigators. She argued Donald fired warning shots at the men as they ran away before eventually shooting the men.

“Who do we call and ask for help if we don’t trust the police?” said Ko.

© 2017 KING-TV


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