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Lt. Jelcick’s SRB questions for Officer Donald

Lt. Aaron Jelcick of the Olympia Police Department’s Shooting Review Board had four pages of questions for Officer Donald similar to those raised by WIP and the Olympia community. This is a summary of that document, including Jelcick’s hand-written notes of Donald’s responses.

The document is in three sections. The first concerned Donald’s training and knowledge of policy and contained ten questions. There are no notes as to Donald’s replies. Donald is specifically asked to explain how “life-threatening behavior” is defined.

Jelcick asks about the “force tools” Donald had with him that night and his training on the use of said tools. Donald was also asked to explain “force tools, tactics and timing” as well as “tactical guidelines on high-risk field interviews.” Jelcick inquired whether Donald had ever been “given direction or instruction about engaging with high-risk suspects without a backup.”

In the next section, Jelcick had over twenty questions regarding the call at Safeway and Donald’s first contact with Chaplin and Thompson. Only three have handwritten notes indicating Donald’s answers. Jelcick starts by asking Donald about what information he had going into the situation and whether he considered waiting for backup before making initial contact. Jelcick notes that when that contact was made, Donald had not turned on his overhead lights but had shined his vehicle spotlight on them. Donald was asked if he believed the suspects knew he was a police officer and to explain why or why not.

Jelcick asked Donald why he removed his handgun from his holster. His note reads Donald thought “he might rush me.” When queried whether he knew backup was on the way, Donald said yes. Jelcick pressed further, “Did you feel, based on the information you had from the Safeway incident, the suspect’s threatening behavior with the skateboard [only one had a skateboard, true?], the fact that they were bigger than you, the low light conditions, the fact that there were back-up officers en-route, and the lack of exigency/community safety risks, was it reasonable to try to detain these suspects without a back-up officer?” No answers are recorded.

Jelcick continued to be concerned about Donald’s safety, asking, “In your statement, you mentioned that you had prior knowledge that a skateboard could be used as a weapon, and that you know people have been killed by them. Why did you re-holster your firearm, leave an area of cover, and engage suspects who have displayed assaultive behavior and are armed with a deadly weapon by yourself?”

There are three more questions about Donald’s decisions before moving on to the final section entitled “2nd contact with suspects.”  WIP is including the full text, including both questions and Jelcick’s handwritten notes recording Donald’s testimony.

Q: Why did you decide to run on foot to the area where the suspects entered the roadway instead of using your police vehicle to set a high visibility perimeter?

A: Thought I might lose sight of them when I turned my car around, I could have [note ends]

Q: What is your training on setting perimeters?

A: [space left blank]

Q: You indicated in your statement if you had another contact with the suspects that you believed they would assault you again. With this belief, why did you put yourself in a position where you might have another confrontation that would lead to deadly force, without having other officers that may be able to use less lethal force options?

A: I went to a position to set perimeter not to pursue them – thought [note ends]

Q: When you observed the subject wearing the dark shirt with the skateboard approximately 12 ft. from you why did you pull out gun and point it at him?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Did you consider any less lethal options at this point? If not, why?

A: He almost immediately stood up w/ skateboard over his head, I had no choice but deadly force.

Q: As the suspect in the dark shirt approached you with the skateboard raised, do you remember giving any verbal commands? If, so what were the commands?

A: Get on the ground, just get on the ground.

Q: How many times did you fire your weapon?

A: I don’t know.

Q: At what point did you stop firing your weapon?

A: When he fell on the ground.

Q: After the subject with the skateboard fell to the ground, did you consider him still a threat to your immediate safety?

A: No – not an immediate threat.

Q: At what point did you reload your handgun?

A: After suspect went down.

Q: At the time of the reload, did you consider transitioning to other less lethal force tools?

A: Yes – but I didn’t have time – and I wanted to be sure I would be effective.

Q: As the subject with the white shirt began to approach you, did you give verbal commands?

A: Yes. Get on ground, get on ground.

Q: Was the subject in the white shirt armed with any visible weapons?

A: No weapons.

Q: Did you consider using a less lethal force tool to stop the advance by the suspect in the white shirt? Please explain your answer.

A: Yes – but could not – not enough time – he was focused on my gun and I could not transition.

Q: Could you have retreated to a location of safety?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Why did you conclude that the suspect in the white shirt was going to try to disarm you?

A: Yes – he was focused on my gun and closing distance.

Q: Have you received training on firearms retention with assaultive suspects?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Have you had unarmed suspects advance on you with aggression before? If so, how did you respond?

A: [space left blank]

Q: Why was this advance by an unarmed suspect different from those incidents?

A: Never had a suspect get that close and continue to advance w/ gun out.

Q: Why did you use deadly force against the subject in the white shirt?

A: [space left blank]

–Candace Mercer


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