The Grays Harbor County Prosecutor has found the use of force lawful in the case of all seven officers who fired their weapons during a standoff in Hoquiam last August.
Officers and Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home on the Chenois Valley Road on August 31st after a 47-year-old mother told 911 operators that her son and his father were fighting over a gun. Investigators determined an 18-year-old male was shot in the finger while struggling over a gun with his 56-year-old father. The son fled the home as officers arrived and the Aberdeen Regional Crisis Response Unit was set up with members from Aberdeen Police Department, Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office, Hoquiam Police Department, Montesano Police Department, and the Cosmopolis Police Department.
During negotiations it is believed the man was responsible for blowing up the house and firing numerous rounds towards officers. None were hurt, Two Grays Harbor County sheriff’s deputies, two Hoquiam officers and three Aberdeen officers returned fire.
The house caught fire and eventually burned to the ground. The remains of the male suspect and female victim were later recovered by investigators. After the shooting occurred the sheriff’s office requested the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigation Team (CIIT) to conduct an independent investigation of the incident. The CIIT is called to investigate any deadly force incidents involving the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office. The CIIT consists of detectives from the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office, Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, Pacific County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Office was the lead agency in the investigation. The case was presented to Grays Harbor Prosecutor Katie Svoboda for review. Prosecutor Svoboda said in a letter to the sheriff’s office that the use of force by all seven officers who fired their weapons was lawful. She also found sufficient evidence to charge the male suspect with several felony crimes if he was not deceased. Autopsies were conducted on the suspect and victim. No bullet fragments were recovered from the remains of either person. Only partial remains of the female were located. Investigators recovered approximately 75 % of the male suspects’ remains. There was no evidence of a gunshot wound in the remains. No further action will be taken in this case unless new information arises.
We are thankful the 18-year-old male victim survived this tragic event and we give our condolences to him and his family for their losses. We are extremely grateful that no law enforcement was injured or killed in the explosions or gunfire that erupted at this scene. This is a frank reminder of the dangers officers can face at any moment. We are thankful for all those that responded from law enforcement and fire and rescue. These strong partnerships help us provide safe and professional service to our community.