‘See you in court’: Family of man killed by SPD reacts to decision not to charge officer
SPOKANE, Wash. — For the last seven months, David Novak’s family has marched countless times up and down the sidewalk in front of the Spokane County Courthouse, demanding answers from the Spokane Police Department as they’ve waited to learn if the officer who shot and killed Novak Jan. 7 would face charges.
They got their answer Wednesday, but it wasn’t what they had been hoping for.
Spokane County prosecuting attorney Larry Haskell announced at a press conference the officer involved in the shooting, Ofc. Brandon Rankin, was justified in pulling the trigger and would not face charges.
Haskell said that Ofc. Rankin and several other officers were responding to reports of an active shooter that night. Officers said when they arrived on scene, they heard yelling and three loud bangs.
“Novak was holding in his hands a long skinny object that was consistent with a shotgun and/or a long gun of some kind,” Haskell said. “Just after his arrival, Officer Rankin wrote in his report that he heard three successive bangs — one, then a short pause, then two successive after that. It sounded to him through training experience as having come from a semi-automatic pistol.”
Officers reported Novak was not responding to their commands to get down and drop the gun, so when he made his way to his front porch, they shot and killed him. Police recovered a baseball bat, but no gun, at the scene.
“The law allows police to make a mistake of fact if it’s reasonable,” Haskell said.
Novak’s friends and family filled the room as Haskell explained his decision, which was an answer they said they couldn’t accept.
“It is my son! It is our loved one! Shame on you! You should not handle things that way!,” Novak’s mother yelled to Haskell.
Novak’s mother Debbie along with his sister Crystal and the rest of their family were visibly upset by the decision, along with the fact they found out about it along with the press. The Novak’s told 4 News Now the first time they heard about the press conference was when a reporter reached out, asking for comment. They said they had never been contacted by Spokane Police or the prosecutor’s office beforehand.
“My brother mattered. Every life who walks these streets matter. You treat us like garbage!,” Novak’s sister said. “See you in court. You guys have no idea what kind of family you’re up against. This system is sick.”
Chief Craig Meidl was also on hand for Wednesday’s emotional press conference, where he said Ofc. Rankin is back on duty and will remain on duty as the department now conducts its internal investigation into the shooting.
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