Anger flares at meeting, protest over Olympia police shooting

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Anger flared as two sides clashed Tuesday evening over the controversial police shooting of two half-brothers in Olympia, and about 100 people demonstrated outside the Olympia City Hall in response to the recent shooting.

Several people spoke out about the shooting at a City Council meeting, and the council expanded its public comment period to allow them to do so. Speakers expressed concerns about the shooting and about "bullets flying" in their neighborhood.

Some also openly challenged Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts' contention that the shooting was not racist, saying he had no right to rule out racism before the investigation played out.

"For you to claim racism did not play a role in this incident of extreme violence establishes an embarassingly nave stance that has already compromised the integrity of any investigation," said one woman, Heather Stewart.

The officer who fired the shots, Ryan Donald, was responding to a call about two suspects assaulting a Safeway employee when the shooting happened. He said he opened fire after one of the suspects attacked him with a skateboard.

There were also those at the meeting who spoke in support of the officer.

"I'm not a lone voice," said one man. "There are a lot of people in the community that really appreciate the risk he took and what he did."

After the meeting, about 100 people protested outside Olympia City Hall, holding signs and banners with messages such as "Black lives matter" and "Black youth is not disposable," while other demonstrators supported police.

The officer reported he was being assaulted with a skateboard before the May 21 shooting that injured 21-year-old Bryson Chaplin, and 24-year-old Andre Thompson. The two half-brothers are black; the officer is white.

Demonstrator Gary Clover openly showed support for Olympia police and said the officer seemed to do the right thing considering the situation, The Olympian reported. "I believe the police are doing their job and need to defend themselves," he said.

As Clover stood in front of City Hall, a woman stood next to him holding a sign with an arrow that pointed to Clover. It read: "This is what white supremacy looks like."

Officer Donald was interviewed Tuesday, Thurston County sheriff's Chief Deputy Brad Watkins said earlier, adding a final report into the shooting is weeks away. The sheriff's office is leading the investigation with other law enforcement agencies.

Detectives interviewed Thompson last week. Watkins said they would like to interview Chaplin but his family has hired a lawyer and it wasn't clear whether Chaplin would provide a statement.

The investigation is in its final stages but it could take a few weeks for evidence to be tested by the state crime lab, Watkins said. A final report will be sent to the Thurston County prosecutor for review and potential charges.
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