OLYMPIA, Wash. — New details are emerging about a police shooting that wounded two stepbrothers. The men have hired an attorney who claims the officer shot his clients from behind, and may have left one of the brothers paralyzed.
“What we’re doing now with our investigation is trying to figure out how this got to a point where two boys were shot in the back multiple times,” said David Beninger, a personal injury lawyer in Seattle who agreed to represent the brothers.
Andre Thompson, 24, and his stepbrother Bryson Chaplin, 21, tried to steal beer from a Safeway in Olympia last month, according to investigators.
Officer Ryan Donald caught up to the suspects at Cooper Point Road. Donald told investigators when one of them threatened him with a skateboard, he opened fire.
Beninger insists there was no assault with a skateboard and that his clients were shot from behind.
“They actually were shot in the back multiple times,” Beninger said. “Obviously they weren’t assaulting the police officer at the time with their back to them, so why was it necessary to shoot them in the back.”
Chaplin has two gunshot wounds to his back, but investigators said both are from the same bullet entering and exiting his side. Investigators said it would be misleading to describe it as being shot in the back – as if Chaplin was running away.
Chaplin was hit a total of five times, with one bullet lodged against his spine. Beninger said it has left Chaplin “paraplegic at this point.” Thompson is recovering at home after being shot once in the side.
As far as whether a skateboard was used to attack the officer, investigators said there are no witnesses, and neither brother has been willing to give a statement.
Beninger will be looking at the evidence and testimony to see if the officer used excessive force against his clients, and whether anyone is civilly liable.