Demonstrators gathered in Olympia, Washington, on Thursday to protest a police shooting of two unarmed black men overnight.
The men survived the shooting, and the case was immediately turned over to outside investigators.
The 50 or so demonstrators, waving signs and chanting “No Justice, No Peace,” marched for about a half-hour outside at City Hall in Olympia, the state capital.
Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said there was no immediate indication that race played a factor in the confrontation near a grocery store where they had allegedly tried to steal beer about 1:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m. ET).
The men were described as local stepbrothers who are 24 and 21 years old. Roberts said one of the men assaulted the officer, Ryan Donald, 35.
In audio of Donald’s communications with a dispatcher during the incident, he is asked whether the men are armed. He replies: “No. He just assaulted me with a skateboard. I tried to, uh, grab his friend. They’re very aggressive, just so you know.”
Donald shot the man, who fled into the woods with his stepbrother, Roberts said. They then came back out of the woods, and “the officer felt threatened and discharged his firearm” again, hitting the other man multiple times in the torso, he said.
Both men were taken to hospitals, where one was in critical condition and the other was described as stable. Donald was put on administrative leave pending an internal investigation and a separate probe by the Critical Incident Team, a cooperative of investigators from five local law enforcement agencies under supervision of the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office.
Police records indicate the incident is the first officer-related shooting in Olympia in at least three years. Mayor Stephen Buxbaum called it “a tragic event” and said he had coordinated with local churches and colleges to set aside time and locations for community gatherings.
“Let’s not be reactive,” he said. “Let’s take the path of consciously addressing our questions of what happened as best we can — seek justice and healing.”