Use of deadly force found reasonable in January officer involved shooting
SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that Spokane Police Officers were justified in their use of lethal force against a man wielding knives in late January.
Around 3:36 PM on January 23, 9-1-1 received a phone call that a man had pulled a gun on the caller and his friend in the vicinity of Andy’s Market at 3004 N. Monroe St. near W. Fairview Ave., in Spokane.
The man was described as black, in his 40’s, wearing a beanie cap, black trench coat, and a maroon shirt. The gun was described as a handgun with a black barrel, but the caller said that he did not see much of it. The caller added that the gun would be in the male’s backside waistband.
When police units arrived, a male matching the description, who was later identified as Dwight D. Steward, was located on the east side of Andy’s Market. Steward had positioned himself at the market entrance, facing the parking lot.
It initially appeared as though Steward would be cooperative with police, but the situation changed abruptly when Steward proceeded to the middle of the parking lot as he drew two large knives and held one in each of his hands.
Multiple officers gave numerous commands to Steward to drop the knives, however he neither dropped them nor did he acknowledge or speak to the officers at any time. After pausing briefly while facing officers positioned at the south of the parking lot, Steward abruptly turned and walked toward officers positioned to the north.
As Steward approached, officers continued to order him to drop the knives. Yet, he continued to ignore officers’ commands.
As he got to within a few feet of Officer Fisher’s and Officer Orrell’s position, in fear of their lives, they both fired at Steward. Steward went to the ground with the knives still in his hands.
A team of officers approached Steward and, once officer safety was assured, began to render emergency medical assistance until Fire Department medics arrived. Steward was pronounced deceased at the scene.
In the subsequent investigation, it was learned that Steward was in possession of numerous additional knives, but no gun was found.
Under these circumstances, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office found that it was reasonable for the officers to use deadly force.
The involved officers had both a subjective and an objective good faith belief in the correctness of their actions. Therefore, no criminal liability was attached and no criminal charges will be filed in the matter.
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