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No Charges Against Officer In Olympia Skateboard Shooting

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim announces that he will not charge Olympia police officer Ryan Donald for shooting two African-American brothers in May. The brothers will be charged with assault.

The Olympia police officer who shot two African-American brothers during a confrontation in May will not be criminally charged.

That was the announcement Wednesday afternoon from Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim. He is charging the two brothers with assault on the officer.

On the evening of May 21, Officer Ryan Donald shot brothers Bryson Chaplin and Andre Thompson. Donald said Chaplin came at him with a skateboard raised over his head. Donald shot him. The officer said he shot Thompson after Thompson became enraged and came after him.

The shooting sparked protests, but Tunheim said he does not believe race was a factor in the shooting. Tunheim said Officer Donald, who is white, acted without malice and in good faith and rejected the idea that Donald shot two unarmed men.

“I really do take issue with the phrase unarmed because the skateboard as it was used in this case very much was a deadly weapon,” Tunheim said.

Tunheim is charging both brothers with two counts each of second degree assault against the officer. A lawyer for the brothers did not have an immediate comment.

The Olympia Police Department has formed a five-member team to review the shooting and determine if Officer Donald violated department policies or procedures. The team includes the executive director of the state commission on African-American Affairs.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."