Two men shot by officer expected to survive injuries


OLYMPIA, Wash. - An Olympia police officer shot two men early Thursday morning suspected of assaulting employees after trying to steal beer.  The men attacked the officer with at least one skateboard, investigators said.

Quick Facts:

  • Police were called to Olympia Safeway for report of assault and attempted theft
  • Officer found suspects, altercation occurred at back of patrol car, 1 man shot
  • Both men then fled to the treeline, then back out into road
  • Second suspect shot several times in torso

Police said that 12:52 a.m. Thursday, officers were called to the Westside Safeway store at 3215 Harrison Avenue West for a report of an assault.

Click here for photos from the scene. 

Store employees reported that two stepbrothers -- Andre Thompson, 23, and Bryson Chaplin, 21 -- tried to steal a case of beer, and when confronted by employees, threw the beer at them then fled.  Employees provided a description of the men, described in part as two young black men with tattoos. At least one advanced with a skateboard, investigators said, and two skateboards were recovered as evidence.

An officer saw two men matching the description of the suspects near Cooper Point Road Northwest and 14th Avenue Northwest at 1:14 a.m. and made contact. Two minutes later, the officer, identified as Ryan Donald, radioed dispatch saying shots had been fired.  Olympia police Chief Ronnie Roberts says the officer reported being assaulted by the men.

Olympia police said that the two men then fled across the road into the treeline, then came back into the road shortly after, where the second suspect was shot several times in the torso area.  The officer was not hurt.

The officer called medics and began to administer first aid. Both men are from the Olympia area.

Chaplin was at St. Peter's in Olympia and moved to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in critical but stable condition. Thompson was at Tacoma General Hospital in stable condition. 

<br>Police, mayor speak about "tragic event"

At a news conference, the Olympia police chief spoke for more than a half hour late Thursday morning in an effort, he says, to be as open and transparent as possible.

Late Thursday morning, a few dozen people showed up outside the Olympia Police Department with signs, chanting and criticizing police for the shooting. Olympia police put this webpage together with ongoing updates.

The two suspects in the shooting are black men. The officer is white. Chief Roberts says the investigation will be about justice, not race. 

"All lives matter," he said. "It's unfortunate that an officer was involved in a situation where he believed he had to use deadly force. Now, the investigation will determine whether or not that was an appropriate use of force. I won't be able to do that today for you.".

City of Olympia mayor Stephen H. Buxbaum calls it a tragic event. He released the following statement. 

"This is a tragic event. It deeply saddens me that we have two young people in the hospital as the result of an altercation with an officer of the law. Let’s come together to support their needs, the officer’s needs, the needs of the families and our community’s needs. Let’s not be reactive. Let’s take the path of consciously addressing our questions of what happened as best we can, seek justice and healing.

Our community is a strong, caring and compassionate community. We deeply value non-violence and justice that is restorative. This is a challenging time that I know we will move through together, learn from and be stronger as a result.

I have personally spoken with the Presidents of The Evergreen State College and South Puget Sound Community College, as well as members of our Faith Community.  They have all agreed to set up places where members of our community can gather.

<center><div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href=""><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1001098753243211/"><a href="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1001098753243211/"></a><p>&quot;I have nothing that leads me to believe that it [race] was a factor.&quot; - Police chief Ronnie Roberts on the #OlympiaShooting&gt;&gt; two men suspected in a grocery store theft are expected to recover from their wounds -- after being shot by a police officer.  Team coverage on #KIRO7 at 5 p.m.</p>Posted by <a href="">KIRO 7 Eyewitness News</a> on Thursday, May 21, 2015</blockquote></div></div></center>

<br>The officer 

Officer Ryan Donald was not injured during the incident. 

He will be formally interviewed, according to a Thursday afternoon news conference. 

The shooting investigation will likely take several weeks. 

Donald, who has been an officer for three years, has been put on administrative leave while the incident is investigated by the  Thurston County Critical Incident Team. That is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.  

The Critical Incident Team is composed of detectives from five local agencies. The team investigates independently of the Olympia Police Department.

"An investigation of the event is underway," Roberts said in a statement. "While the Department receives some general details, the precise facts of the event cannot be known until the investigation is completed. It is essential that an investigation into this kind of event is fair, thorough, and timely for everyone involved. I appreciate the community’s patience as the investigation moves forward." 

<br> The men shot

Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, are stepbrothers. 

Thompson is in serious, but stable condition, and Chaplin remains in critical condition. Both are expected to survive their injuries. 

Chaplin has a criminal history that includes convictions three felonies: robbery in 2010, theft in 2009 and taking a motor vehicle without permission in 2012. Court records show those were juvenile cases.

Thompson’s criminal background check form the State Patrol shows convictions for three gross misdemeanors: supplying liquor to minors in 2013, being a minor in possession of liquor that same year, and obstructing a law enforcement officer in 2012. His criminal history from the State Patrol also includes a misdemeanor bail jumping case in 2013.

Records show both were born in Rhode Island.

“It was terrible,” their mother, Crystal Chaplin, said after returning home. “It’s heartbreaking to see two of my babies in the hospital over something stupid.”

She called the incident was unnecessary, and declined further comment on the advice of her lawyer.

<div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href=""><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1001187916567628/"><a href="/KIRO7Seattle/videos/1001187916567628/"></a><p>The mother of the two men shot by an #Olympia officer talked to Alison Grande when she got home from the hospital, where her sons are recovering. &gt;&gt; were not armed with guns or knives, but police say they attacked the officer with a skateboard.</p>Posted by <a href="">KIRO 7 Eyewitness News</a> on Thursday, May 21, 2015</blockquote></div></div>

<br>Community reacts to shooting 

After the morning news conference, a couple dozen demonstrators gathered outside Olympia police headquarters with signs and shouting for justic. 

<center><div id="fb-root"></div><script>(function(d, s, id) {  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;  js = d.createElement(s); = id;  js.src = "//";  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="" data-width="500"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite=""><p>Protesters have focused on race in this morning&#039;s shooting. The officer is white, and the two suspects are black. The...</p>Posted by <a href="">KIRO 7 Eyewitness News</a> on <a href="">Thursday, May 21, 2015</a></blockquote></div></div></center>

Jessica and Michelle Reeson live nearby and were surprised to hear of an officer-involved shooting so close to home.

"It's happening so much.  It is.  And I don't know if it's a whole race thing," said Michelle Reeson.   It was a topic the police chief couldn't avoid at his morning news conference.

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