Crime

Officers cleared in killing

Two Tacoma police officers did nothing wrong when they killed 22-year-old Neil Triana in May, a jury said Thursday.

The five men and one woman hearing a coroner's inquest into Triana's May 28 death deliberated for about an hour before deciding that officers Ryan Lane and Chris Karl were justified in fatally shooting Triana.

Three jurors who talked to the News Tribune said they had no trouble reaching their verdict, and that the law made their decision easy.

"The suspect - what he did was very dangerous, " said juror Paul Peltier, who lives near Spanaway. "The officers had every right to shoot back."

The incident started as a traffic stop in the 4700 block of South Cushman Street. Lane pulled over the car Triana was riding in because it had an expired registration sticker.

Lane testified he was going to search the car and that after he asked Triana to get out and tried to pat him down, Triana pulled a gun and threatened to shoot him. Lane shot Triana, and then Triana shot Lane in the leg, the officer testified.

Karl responded to Lane's radio calls for help, and shot Triana after the bleeding man raised his gun at him, he testified.

Triana was shot 13 times and died of internal injuries and blood loss.

Under department policy, officers are allowed to use deadly force when they perceive an immediate threat to their lives or someone else's.

"These are naturally very tough situations for officers to go through, " Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell said after the hearing. "They acted appropriately for the situation. The big message is, this was the right conclusion."

Jurors, asked whether a crime had been committed in relation to Triana's death, said Triana had resisted arrest and assaulted a police officer.

Pierce County Medical Examiner John Howard had called the inquest - rare in this county - after Lane and Karl had decided not to talk to independent investigators. Their attorney had advised them not to talk without immunity from prosecution.

Prosecutor Gerry Horne said Thursday afternoon that the matter was concluded.

"The death of that young man was justifiable, " he said, "and of course we would not be proceeding with charges. But I'm pleased there was a full and public airing of it. And I'm pleased that the officers told publicly what had taken place.

Throughout the hearing, several of Triana's friends and family members wore T-shirts with his photograph on them.

"They could have wounded him, " Triana's friend, Stephen Brown, said before the jury had reached its verdict. "They could have arrested him instead of killing him."

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660

karen.hucks@thenewstribune.com

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