Shooting by deputy in Tacoma alley ruled justified

A Pierce County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a 39-year-old man in an alley more than three months ago was justified because the man threatened to shoot deputies, Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist announced Tuesday.

Deputy Chad Helligso shot Aaron Michael Westby once in the head Oct. 22 while investigating a stolen truck in an alley in the 1900 block of South M Street.

“Mr. Westby repeatedly claimed to have a gun, threatened the officers and refused to cooperate,” Lindquist said. “This created a situation where Deputy Helligso resorted to deadly force to protect himself and his partner.”

Prosecutors gave this account of the shooting:

Helligso and his partner, deputy Chris Olson, were looking for a Ford pickup stolen from Puyallup and received information that Westby, who was wanted on a felony warrant for assault and escaping from community custody, had the truck.

After spotting the pickup in the alley and seeing Westby walking toward the driver’s door, deputies yelled for him to get on the ground, but Westby got inside and locked the door.

Helligso broke out the driver’s side window and struggled to get Westby out. Westby repeatedly yelled that he had a gun and was going to shoot the deputies. When Westby reached down, shouted he was going to shoot them and then rose up quickly, Helligso shot him once in the head.

Westby died at the scene. The Medical Examiner’s Office found he had methamphetamine in his system.

No gun was found.

Stacia Glenn: