Investigators Rule OPD Justified in Not Calling Crisis Response Unit Prior to Timothy Green Shooting Death

The Crisis Response Unit is a division of OPD that was created to respond to and deescalate situations in which an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis.

The report (posted in full at the bottom of this page) issued by the Capital Metro Independent Investigations Team concludes that Olympia Police Department officers were justified in not calling crisis responders to the scene where officer Jordan Anderson shot and killed Timothy Green last August. 

“The officers recognized the scene was not safe for a crisis responder due to Green being violent and threatening,” Lacey police Detective Mike Caranto wrote in his investigation report for the Capital Metro Independent Investigations Team, which reviewed the circumstances of the shooting. 

The report now is in the hands of the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, which has been asked to determine if the officer who fired the fatal shots has a legal defense for Green’s death under state law. Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim referred the case to the Clark County office under a practice developed by prosecutors to avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The Olympia Tribune, through a public records request, recently received the report and other documents that identify the officer who fired the fatal shots as Jordan Anderson, who joined the Olympia Police Department on August 1, 2019. He remains on paid leave, Police Chief Rich Allen said last week. Anderson had received police use of force training as recently as the July before the shooting, according to records provided by OPD.

Anderson shot Green, 37, a Black man, in the late morning of August 22 near a coffee shop drive-through at the corner of Sleater Kinney Road and Martin Way on the outskirts of Olympia. Green later died of chest wounds at St. Peter Hospital.   

Officers who provided written statements stated that Anderson fired the shots after the tasers they used to subdue Green were not effective and he charged Anderson with a knife and refused to drop it. 

Whether the officers called crisis responders to the scene, and if not, why not, is at the top of a list of questions raised by Green’s family and by community members, given that he was in a mental health crisis.  

In fact, OPD officers, including Jordan Anderson, had been at the family’s home two days before the shooting, responding to a call from the family.  

In his written statement, Bellamy said: 

“Prior 8-20-2022 Contact: I recognized the name Timothy Green because Officer Jordan Anderson and another officer contacted Green at his parent’s house 2 days ago. Green was outside his parent’s residence and Green placed items in front of the front door trying to barricade their door. I responded to the prior call as well but right at the end of the call. Officer Jordan Anderson told me Green’s parents wanted Green removed and trespassed from their property. Officer Jordan Anderson warned me that Green was verbally hostile with officers. I saw Green taking items from the front door of the residence and then walked away from the residence.”

Tunheim, the Thurston County Prosecutor, also said Green “appears to have been in a mental health crisis at the time of the shooting. 

Green’s family has been outspoken about his long-time mental health issues. In a statement shortly after the killing, the family said they had “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.”

Green was among the 39 people shot and killed by police officers in 2022, and one of more than 1,900 nationwide, according to a database maintained by The Washington Post. 

In addition to the investigative report, the 61 pages of documents include transcripts of interviews with witnesses and paramedics who responded to the scene, and written statements from three of the officers present when the shooting occurred: Joseph Bellamy, Caleb Shaffer and Brenda Anderson (no relation to Jordan Anderson). 

They do not contain a written statement from Jordan Anderson. “I was advised from their attorney that Officer J. Anderson would not be providing a voluntary statement,” Caranto wrote in the report.

The Tribune first requested the records in January and is expecting another batch of documents in late April from the CMIIT, which investigates deadly police use of force incidents through an agreement among the Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm police departments. Its members are officers from those departments, Washington State Patrol crime scene technicians, and community members. Law enforcement officers from the jurisdiction where the incident occurred are not part of the investigative team.

Other information in the documents includes:

  • Officers handcuffed Green while he lay bleeding on the ground after he had been shot.

“The male fell to the ground and Officer Shaffer and I ran to the male to secure him in handcuffs. As I ran forward, I advised Radio, “Shots Fire, shots fired, One down.” Officer Shaffer pulled his handcuffs and we turned Green onto his stomach to secure him in handcuffs. We then turned him back over (facing up) and began administering First Aid. Officer J. Anderson joined us to assist,” Brenda Anderson said in a written statement.

  • Officers did call for paramedics and did use life-saving measures on Green while they waited for them to arrive. 
  • The shooting apparently occurred while Bellamy was going to his patrol vehicle to get a 40 mm less-lethal launcher. The launcher fires low-velocity, foam tipped rounds and typically is used to de-escalate situations and for crowd control.
  • An autopsy report stated Green had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system.

Of note is Caranto’s narrative on officers’ decision to not contact OPD’s Crisis Response Unit. It says: 

“After reviewing the written statements from Officer B. Anderson, Officer Shaffer, and Sergeant Bellamy, the topic of requesting Olympia PD CRU (Crisis Response Unit) or a designated crisis responder was not addressed. I contacted the involved officers’ attorney, Lisa Elliott by email and requested the following questions be answered: 

  • Was there a discussion about requesting Olympia CRU or a DCR (designated crisis responder) to the scene prior to the use of force?
  • Do you believe that a CRU or DCR response to the scene have been appropriate based on the facts and circumstances known to you on scene?
  • Why was CRU or a DCR not requested prior to the use of force? 

“I received the officers’ written responses to the above questions from their attorney Lisa Elliott on 12/6/22. Their responses to the questions are as follows: 

  • Officer Caleb Shaffer: ‘CRU and DCR are not called when a scene is not secure and there is a violent and threatening individual.’
  • Officer Brenda Anderson: ‘We do not call civilians out to a scene where there is a violent individual and the scene has not been secured.’ 
  • Sergeant Joe Bellamy: ‘No discussion because it was not appropriate. The suspect was violent and the scene was not safe or secure for civilian intervention.”

Continued Caranto: “I reviewed Olympia PD calls for the time frame of the incident involving Green and OPD officers at (the coffee shop). According to CAD logs, it appeared that Olympia PD CRU responders were dispatched to other calls and not available during this time.”

Here is the full, verbatim text of Caranto’s investigation summary:

“The Olympia Police Department demonstrated their legal authority to initiate contact with Green. Green made threats to kill the officers and other citizens, and caused multiple disturbances at local area businesses.

“Probable Cause was established to arrest Green for Disorderly Conduct and Pedestrian Interference. Officers made de-escalation attempts to include making attempts to converse with Green, giving verbal commands, creating distance, and implementing less lethal options. The officers recognized the scene was not safe for a crisis responder due to Green being violent and threatening. 

“The Officers created a plan to attempt to mitigate the threat and safely detain Green. They developed an arrest team with assigned roles. Sgt. Bellamy -40mm launcher, Ofc. Brenda Anderson –Taser, Ofc. Shaffer and Ofc. Jordan Anderson –lethal cover and handcuffing. 

“The Officers utilized reasonable position and movement while attempting to effect the arrest.

“As the arrest plan was being discussed, Ofc. Jordan Anderson monitored Green from a distance as he was walking in the drive through lane of Starbucks where multiple customers were waiting in line. Before the officers’ arrest plan could be implemented, Green armed himself with a knife and was not cooperative with Officers’ commands to drop the knife. 

“Ofc. Brenda Anderson and Ofc. Shaffer deployed their Tasers on Green, who was armed with a knife, but both Taser deployments were ineffective. With the knife raised up, Green ran at Ofc. Jordan Anderson. Ofc. Jordan Anderson backpedaled away from Green who was closing the distance. Ofc. Jordan Anderson fired his handgun three times, striking Mr. Green three times in the torso.

“Officers immediately provided first aid to Green and called for Advanced Life Support to come into the scene. Mr. Green was transported by medics to St. Peter’s Hospital where he died from his injuries. 

“Case Status: Refer to Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Date: 1/19/23”

The CMIIT briefed the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office on the investigation in mid-January in a meeting that was not open to the public.

A spokesperson for the Clark County prosecutor said in an email last week the office was waiting for more information and does not have a timeline for completion of its work. A phone call from a reporter requesting details on what it is waiting for and from whom was not returned. 

Tara Tsehlana, a spokesperson for the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, has said if Clark County decides the officer’s use of force was not justified, “the case would be referred to our office for consideration of criminal charges. We would then treat it as any other case with the standard review process.” 

Initiative 940, passed by voters in November 2018 and a state law making amendments to it, enacted in February 2019, changed the legal defense for law enforcement officers using deadly
force. Prior to the change, an officer was subject to the “malice and good faith clause,” which for all practical purposes was immunity from prosecution. In the long history of that law, the only officer ever charged was acquitted.

Now, the law says that an officer is not subject to criminal liability if the use of deadly force by a peace officer was in good faith, where “good faith” is “an objective standard which shall consider all the facts, circumstances, and information known to the officer at the time to determine whether a similarly situated reasonable officer would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual.”

This now is situated against the backdrop of a state law that took effect on July 25, 2021. The law states officers should use all possible de-escalation techniques before employing physical force, and should use only the “least amount of physical force necessary to overcome resistance under the circumstances,” including whether the individual is a vulnerable adult, has a mental, behavioral or physical impairment, or is impaired due to alcohol and/or drug use. When considering deadly force, an officer must use reasonable care, and “when possible, use less lethal alternatives that are available and appropriate under the circumstances before using deadly force.”

Green’s family has been briefed on the CMIIT’s findings. They have been keeping a close eye on whether the investigation finds officers followed state and local laws and policies, which they say “are in place to protect people like Tim.”

 A statement issued by the family seeks answers to these questions: 

  • Why didn’t the officers call for the Olympia Crisis Response Unit?
  • Did the officers take all possible steps to avoid the use of force?
  • Given that two of the four officers at the scene had just recently encountered Tim, how did the officers at the scene communicate this?
  • Was this prior knowledge given proper weight and recognized when looking at “all the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time”?
  • Did the Olympia Police Department follow its policies, training, and (state law) RCW 10.120.020, which requires that the least amount of physical force be used, that deadly force be necessary and limited to an immediate threat of death or serious injury? 
  • Did the officers render first aid at the scene as required by state law?

Says the family, “We believe officers at the scene overlooked the fact that Tim’s life had meaning and his life was sacred. As the prosecutor reviews the investigation, we ask the community to stand with us patiently and to keep Tim’s life at the forefront of your prayers.”

By Mindy Chambers

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