Detectives investigating officers' actions in deadly shooting

SPOKANE, Wash. - When officers are involved in a shooting, like the one that happened on the South Hill Tuesday morning, investigators from around the county are called to determine exactly what happened.

The shooting scene was located right off Monroe Street, which meant the road had to be closed for more than 10 hours Tuesday, so investigators could tag and document every piece of evidence to ensure the shooting investigation is thorough.

That meant drivers had to be diverted until early afternoon as Washington State Patrol investigators independently work to determine what happened early Tuesday morning.

When bullets are fired by officers -- especially in fatal situations like the one Tuesday morning -- the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team (SIRRT) is called to the scene.

"You bring a group of investigators together, from multiple agencies," WSP Trooper Troy Briggs said.

Monroe shooting sidebar

The state patrol is managing the investigation, which includes detectives from the Spokane County Sheriff's Office and the Spokane Police Department. Briggs said it's important to have third parties investigate because these shootings often happen in a split second.

"Everybody's point of view is different; even officers standing directly next to each other. They perceive different things, they see different things," he said.

Detectives spent the morning verifying witness statements and measuring the distance between bullet casings. Tire marks were traced through the chases' path that covered the neighborhood west of Huckleberry's, everything precise and accurate enough to stand up in court.

"To tell exactly what happened, if there's evidence on the vehicles, that sort of thing. The shell casings, make sure what weapons they came from," Briggs.

Monroe was closed through the afternoon as patrol cars were towed from the scene to a storage facility. They'll be held there as evidence until the case is completed. That way the response team can sift through it all and hand it to the prosecutor for review.       

"It's a total package of exactly what the evidence shows us, plus the witnesses, plus what the officers statements are," Briggs said.

The officers involved, who are on paid administrative leave, which is standard after an officer-involved shooting, must give their statement to investigators within 72 hours. They will remain on administrative leave until investigators determine they did nothing illegal and did not violate departmental policy.

It could take them several days -- or weeks -- though there have been a few situations where a shooting investigation has taken months to complete.