The white police officer who shot two unarmed Black youths in May in Thurston County, Washington state, will not face criminal charges, the Thurston County Prosecutor announced on September 2, because the youths’ skateboards were said to be “threatening” the officer.
Prosecutor Jon Tunheim said that rather than charging the cop, whose bullets left one of the young men paralysed from the waist down, assault charges would be filed against the two men, Bryson Chaplin, 21, and Andre Thompson, 24.
Tunheim added that officer Ryan Donald was “acting without malice” and had a “good faith fear” when he shot the two men.
Chaplin and Thompson were suspected of trying to steal beer from a grocery store.
Police said that race was not a factor in the shooting, a claim viewed with intense scepticism by protesters of police brutality.
The shooting sparked a series of protests against racist police brutality, which in turn led to counter demonstrations and clashes with local white supremacists.
Donald claimed that the young unarmed men had threatened the police officers with a skateboard before the shooting.
“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.
Social media users immediately took issue with Tunheim’s statements, expressing anger and disbelief at the lack of charges against the officer.
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]