Nearly six months after an Olympia Police Department officer shot and killed Timothy Green near a busy intersection on the outskirts of the city, an investigation into the incident is complete.
The Capital Metro Independent Investigation Team (CMIIT) will brief the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on its findings on January 12, said Lacey Police Sgt. Shannon Barnes, a spokeswoman for the CMIIT. It will be up to Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik to determine what, if any, further action will occur.
The briefing, which is not open to the public, will take place at the Prosecutor’s Office. Green’s family will be briefed at a date to be determined, said Lacey Police Sgt. Shannon Barnes, a spokesperson for the CMIIT, said Friday afternoon.
The investigation documents will be a matter of public record once the briefing is complete, Barnes said.
The CMIIT was activated after Green, a 37-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by an Olympia Police Department officer on August 22, 2022, on an asphalt driveway near a coffee shop drive-through at Sleater Kinney Road and Martin Way during an apparent mental health crisis.
Green’s mother, Millie, has questioned why police didn’t attempt to de-escalate the situation or call in “less-lethal backup,” as required by state law, before firing the shots that killed her son.
In a statement issued about a week after the shooting, the family called for “full transparency and independence in the investigation into the death of Tim Green. We also want a full accounting for the laws and policies that are required. Only until then can we inch closer towards a measure of justice.”
In that statement, the family also said they “dreaded the possibility that Tim would meet this very outcome … We know that people who have mental health issues are at a higher risk of being killed by police, and this is even more so for Black men like Tim.”
The law requires law enforcement officers to consider a person’s mental, behavioral, or physical impairments or disabilities and impairments related to the use of alcohol or drugs when determining whether to use force.
Green was among the 40 people shot and killed by a law enforcement officer in Washington state in 2022, according to the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability, nearly double the 21 shooting deaths by police in the state in 2021. Nationwide, police shot and killed 1,090 people in 2022, according to a database compiled by The Washington Post, compared to 1,047 in 2021.
A police report obtained through a records request by The Tribune clearly shows that Green was in crisis on August 20th (two days before his death) when his mother called the police from their family home.
The report shows that two of the four officers (Jordan Anderson and Acting Sgt. Joseph Bellamy) involved in the incident resulting in Green’s death had responded to the August 20 call. The report states: “Tim was not happy with LE, but he left the property without incident.” This is evidence that the officers knew that he needed help when they encountered him on August 22, and should have called in OPD’s Crisis Response Unit, instead of using deadly force, as mandated by law.
Two days later, an officer who the Olympia Police Department and the CMIIT have refused to name shot Green three times in the chest.
Before a lid was put on information-sharing about the incident, police said Green threatened them with a knife, and when he refused to drop it, they tasered him, but when he kept advancing, he was shot. Green died at Providence St. Peter Hospital from what the Thurston County Coroner described as “multiple gunshot wounds.”
The case was referred to the Clark County prosecutor by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. This is a common practice designed to prevent conflict of interest in a use of force investigation.
Olympia Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is one of the local organizations questioning the independence of the investigation, given that it is, as they put it, “police investigating police.”
In September, SURJ sent a letter to the CMIIT asking it to specifically determine, among other things, whether the city of Olympia’s Crisis Response Unit was called to the scene, and if not, why not; what de-escalation techniques were employed before the firearm was used; and what assistance officers rendered to Green at the scene.
The Police Department and the CMIIT have refused to name the officer who fired the fatal shots, but Olympia Police Chief Rich Allen has identified those involved in the incident: Bellamy, officer Caleb Shaffer, Jordan Anderson, and officer Brenda Anderson. Records for all four show they received use-of-force training in 2022.
Bellamy returned to work on August 26. Shaffer returned to work on September 8. Jordan Anderson and Brenda Anderson remain on paid leave, Allen said.
The CMIIT is composed of detectives from the Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm police departments, Washington State Patrol crime scene technicians, and community members. Through an agreement among the cities, the team is called together to investigate police use of force incidents. Law enforcement officers from the jurisdiction where the incident occurred are not part of the investigative team.
As has been the case with previous CMIIT investigations, the team releases almost no information about what it is doing. Nearly all of its weekly news releases, posted to its website, are limited to one paragraph ending with the same eight words: “No other information is available at this time.”
Meanwhile, the Olympia Police Department has filed its police use of force policy with the state Attorney General’s Office as required by a state law enacted in 2021. The Attorney General’s Office webpage notes the department believes its policy is consistent with the AG’s model policy, developed in 2022 after meetings with community members, law enforcement officers, and use of force policies around the country.
The Lacey, Tumwater, and Evergreen State College police departments along with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office also have filed policies with the AG’s office.
Voters created independent investigations teams when they approved Initiative 940 in 2018; 17 are in operation statewide. In addition, the state Criminal Justice Commission has adopted rules that require police use of deadly force investigations to meet four key principles:
- Independence: The involved agency cannot have undue influence or the appearance of undue influence on the investigation.
- Transparency: Community members are able to assess whether the investigation was conducted in a trustworthy manner and complies with state laws and rules.
- Communication: The investigating team must communicate the investigation’s progress to the public and family of the person killed or harmed by police use of force.
- Credibility: Use of deadly force investigations must follow best practices for criminal investigations, and investigators must meet training requirements and demonstrate ethical behavior and impartiality.
Allen said the Olympia PD “will conduct a thorough internal review of the incident … The review board has the authority to recommend training and policy changes. Any recommendations will be evaluated after our internal review process.
At some point, the city of Olympia police, staff, and council members will be briefed on the findings, but no date has been set.
What role if any has the social justice and equity commission played in this investigation?