FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
No Criminal Charges in May 2017 Police Shooting
SPOKANE COUNTY, July 14, 2017 – The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that Spokane Police Officers Ronald Van Tassel, Julian Cedeno, and Lt. Dave McCabe were justified in their use of deadly force while attempting to contact/arrest Terrance Wallette near North Perry St. and East Dalton Ave. in Spokane.
On May 7th, 2017, at approximately 4:17 PM, Wallette had checked in at the Emergency Room at Holy Family Hospital as a possible overdose. While there, Wallette became agitated, pulled a knife in front of an ER worker (who then backed away), and left the hospital in a blue Dodge Intrepid. In the vicinity of North Cincinnati and East Lacrosse, Wallette narrowly avoided striking a pedestrian with the vehicle.
Just after 6:00 PM, Spokane Police Lieutenant Dave McCabe observed the Dodge go through a stop sign. A short pursuit ensued that was quickly terminated for safety reasons by Lt. McCabe. Soon thereafter, McCabe was driving south on Perry and observed the Dodge stopped in the road just south of Dalton. McCabe recognized the driver, who was now out of the vehicle and dressed in a hospital gown with pants underneath. McCabe yelled at Wallette to come to him. Wallette ignored the command and ran away. A foot chase ensued during which McCabe observed Wallette threaten two persons at a residence at1327 East Dalton.
Wallette was advised numerous times to stop and get on the ground. Additional officers soon arrived on scene. Wallette continued to disobey commands, stated that he was not going back to prison, and began to cut himself in the stomach and left wrist. Officer John Yen deployed his taser in attempt to get Wallette to stop. The taser was ineffective and Wallette kept running. As Yen attempted a taser reload, Officer Van Tassel observed Wallette raise the knife and move toward Yen. Van Tassel fired a single shot at Wallette. Wallette then turned toward Van Tassel and McCabe, again, with the knife raised. Additional shots were then fired by McCabe and Officer Cedeno.
Wallette went to the ground, at which time officers moved in to perform medical aid. Medics arrived and treated Wallette, as well. Wallette was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center where he was treated. He survived his injuries.
Under these circumstances, it was reasonable for Officers Van Tassel, Cedeno, and Lt McCabe to use deadly force. Wallette presented a serious and immediate threat to officers as he moved toward them and to the safety of others if he escaped from the immediate vicinity and had an opportunity to confront other citizens with the knife. Wallette ignored numerous requests to drop the knife and go to the ground in an effort to defuse the situation. He had been stabbing himself with the knife and had threatened both citizens and police with it. Less lethal force was tried and failed. There is no indication any of the officers acted out of malice or lacked a good faith belief in the correctness of their actions. Therefore, no criminal liability attaches and no criminal charges will be filed against Officers VanTassel, Cedeno, and Lt. McCabe.