‘Innocent people shouldn’t have to pay the price’: Thurston Co. Sheriff speaks on pre-trial release

The Thurston County Sheriff told us on Tuesday that releasing people accused of violent crimes without bail is putting us all in serious danger.

Sheriff Derek Sanders wrote an open letter on social media on Tuesday saying he supports releasing non-violent suspects but he says there’s one glaring example of a violent suspect who was released after he called 911, threatening to kill people, and was shot while pointing a replica pistol at deputies.

This shooting happened in Lacey on the Fourth of July after the homeowner called 911 threatening to kill someone.

The man’s wife and kids were inside, and the man was shot when he came to the door carrying a replica pistol. Sheriff Sanders says this man was released by a judge without bail as soon as he was released from the hospital even though he had been convicted 14 times, including multiple assaults, multiple domestic violence assaults, tampering with witnesses, burglary, and violation of protection orders.

Sheriff Sanders says he’s also failed to appear in court 21 times. He adds, that ordering reasonable cash bail for violent suspects is just common sense for safety.

“We’re so focused on giving people who commit violent crimes a second chance, we’re not really taking into account their victims may not get the same opportunity. Even if an order’s put in place, orders are just a piece of paper and this is a person who off the top of my head has three prior convictions and a felony case for violating an order. I mean there’s no evidence to suggest this is a person who will comply with conditions. They have a founded history of not complying,” said Sheriff Sanders.

Sheriff Sanders says judges have a difficult job weighing constitutional rights versus public safety, but he says innocent people should not have to pay the price.