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Surveillance video shows officers justified in use of force

Surveillance video shows officers justified in use of force

SPOKANE, Wash. - New Spokane Police body cam video released Wednesday paints a better picture of a fatal shooting officer-involved shooting from this past May.

In that incident, a man pointed a gun at Spokane police officers the second he pushed open his front door. It's another incident of what police say is someone trying to commit suicide by cop.

It was actually the second time police had used deadly force against this man, 32-year-old Aaron Johnson. Officers also shot the mentally ill man outside a homeless shelter back in 2014. In both cases, Johnson survived.

During the shooting at the West Wynn Motel on May 2, 2016, Johnson was armed with a BB gun, but the officer who took cover behind a brick wall didn't know that. From his position, he could only see that Johnson was chasing him down a long motel balcony targeting him with what looked like a semi-automatic pistol.

Officers Stephen Anderson and Shane Phillips responded to Johnson's motel room after he called 911 to report he had been threatened by his roommate.

Phillips had just peeked inside the door only to find the suspect pointing a gun at him.

At that point, the officers already suspected this was a suicide by cop set up, so they took cover and tried to deescalate the situation.

"Aaron, put your hands up, buddy, hands up," you can hear one of the officers say on the video. "Aaron, put your hands up."

Motel surveillance video shows Ofc. Phillips running down the hallway looking for cover, in case Aaron steps outside the door.

Phillips wrote in his report that's exactly what happened next.

"Instead of avenues of escape, it appeared Mr. Johnson was actually looking for us or tracking us," said Spokane Police Dept. Capt. Tracy Meidl.

The surveillance camera then shows Johnson running after Ofc.Phillips, aiming the pistol at the officer's position.

Ofc. Anderson runs downstairs trying to get a better angle on Johnson when Ofc. Phillips opens fire.

Phillips' body cam wasn't rolling when he opened fire. Fortunately, the surveillance camera was, and it shows Johnson gun in hand, taken down by the officer's bullets.

There were no additional shots fired in this incident.

Johnson recovered from his injuries and once again is doing time in the Spokane County Jail.

Our prosecutor has determined the officer's use of force in this case to be justified.