Crime

Thurston Sheriff’s Office seeks witnesses to Olympia police shooting

The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is asking anybody with information about last week’s officer-involved shooting on Cooper Point Road to come forward and provide a statement.

Lt. Cliff Ziesemer said detectives have been canvassing neighborhoods near where the shooting occurred, looking for witnesses.

“We’re looking for people who may have seen or talked to the two young men before the shooting occurred, we’re looking for people who heard the shots,” Ziesemer said. “Obviously, the more information we have, the better.”

He said the call for information isn’t a response to criticism that the investigation isn’t been handled properly. During a Tuesday night Olympia City Council meeting, several people addressed the council, saying they were witnesses, but they had not been contacted.

“This is standard procedure,” Ziesemer said. “We’ve been out doing this canvassing for days. We didn’t know who these people were. We can’t talk to them unless they come forward.”

Meanwhile, a week after Olympia Officer Ryan Donald shot and wounded Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, people are still taking to the streets protesting the incident. The two men are suspected of attempting to steal beer from the Safeway on Olympia’s west side. They were shot nearby in a confrontation on Cooper Point Road.

In the most recent protest, about 30 protesters gathered in downtown Olympia on Wednesday night.

The protesters gathered at about 8:20 p.m. and blocked the streets at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street. The protesters walked down Fourth Avenue to Olympia City Hall, and later turned and walked toward Capitol Way.

They stood in the street at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Capitol Way for about 10 minutes, then turned and walked back to City Hall. By that time, the number of protesters had dwindled to about 20 people.

Six Olympia police officers followed them, redirecting traffic.

While walking, protesters shouted, “Whose streets? Our streets,” “Black lives matter,” “No justice, no peace, no racist police,” and “We want indictment, but these killer cops won’t like it.”

Olympia Lt. Paul Lower said the protest remained peaceful, and no arrests were made.

He explained that people could be cited for pedestrian interference when blocking the road — but people also have a right to demonstrate.

“We don’t enforce (pedestrian interference laws) very often,” Lower said. “Most of the time, we use them as an opportunity to talk to people about being safe.”

Most of the time, the Olympia Police Department tries to have a presence at protests to direct traffic and ensure they don’t get out of hand, Lower said. That’s easier to do when protests are planned.

“There’s a balance there, with a person’s right to speak and the blockage of traffic,” Lower said. “We try to accommodate that right to make their voices heard.”

Wednesday night’s protest is one of at least three since the shooting.

A Tuesday night Olympia City Council meeting drew about 100 protesters and 34 people who addressed the council. All but one of the speakers expressed concern about the shooting and the way law enforcement is handling the investigation.

Protesters gathered again about 11 p.m. Tuesday, and Lower said they appeared to be part of three groups: those protesting the May 21 shooting, people showing their support for local police and people carrying flags representing a known white supremacist group.

Lower said that although the groups argued, no physical altercations occurred and no arrests were made.

“When we see groups oppose each other like that, we do pay attention,” Lower said.

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