Statement from Olympia Chapter of Showing up for Racial Justice on the death of Timothy Green and letter to CMITT

Olympia SURJ is part of a national network of groups and individuals educating, mobilizing and organizing white people within a multi-racial movement for racial justice:

“Through community organizing, mobilizing and education, SURJ moves white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change. We envision a society where we struggle together with love, for justice, human dignity and a sustainable world.”

It has issued the following in response to the killing of Timothy Green by an Olympia Police Department officer on August 22, 2022.

The Olympia Chapter of SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice) sends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Black, disabled, loved one, Timothy Green. Timothy Green was a whole person, a son, father of two, a musician, a poet, an artist, a friend and a well loved member of our community. Timothy was killed August 22, 2022 at approximately 10:35am by Olympia Police Officers. He was shot three times while walking and holding a book. Timothy should still be alive today. We are mourning for yet another community member unjustly murdered due to a racist system of policing. We see this happen nationwide, we see this happen locally. We are not immune here in our supposedly safe and progressive town. It’s time we hold each other accountable and make some real changes. Let’s begin by fighting for Justice for Timothy Green. 

We failed Timothy Green before he was even murdered by the police. Timothy should have been housed and receiving support for his mental health. Police knew that he was disabled and needed care and ended up killing him. This is a direct attack on Black people, disabled people, poor people, people with mental illnesses, and members of the unhoused community. In the statement put out by Timothy’s family, they shared “As a family, we have dreaded the possibility that Tim would meet this very outcome. We have read the accounts of other individuals in mental health crises.  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.  We have lived with the fear and a deep understanding of the vulnerability of Tim and others like Tim. We have supported reforms to police training and accountability that should protect the lives of people like our son, Tim.” What a devastating loss for our whole community that Timothy was unjustly murdered at only 37 years old. He deserved better. We deserve better. Let’s work together to build the world we want to see.

We think back to the racist shooting of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin (they survived!) by OPD officer Ryan Donald in 2015, and the suspicious death and mishandling of the investigation of Black loved one Yvonne McDonald that has continued to be swept under the rug. We see time and again that our city’s primary goal is to keep up its good image, not to uncover the truth. Mayor Selby even stated publicly that the shooting of Andre and Bryson by Olympia Police officer Ryan Donald was due to racism during her press conference on June 5, 2022 in response to the murder of George Floyd. Stating that this was a racist shooting, yet still employing the same officer, is unethical and outrageous. This time it must be different. We join Timothy’s family in calling for full transparency and independence in the investigation into his death.

In the cases of Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, and Yvonne McDonald, the city misused taxpayer dollars to cover up the actions of their police and employees. The public made demands for independent investigations, and in both cases the city did not comply. Black lives are still being taken and until police officers are held to the same letter of law that private citizens are, this violence will not stop. If we believe that Black Lives Matter then we must not back down until Timothy Green’s family and the others get justice. 

Timothy’s murder is being investigated by Capital Metro Independent Investigations Team (CMII), a group comprised primarily of detectives and sergeants from Lacey, Tumwater, and Yelm Police Department. Investigations into misconduct conducted by police in surrounding jurisdictions are by nature not impartial. Washington State has acknowledged this by creating the new Office of Independent Investigations (OII), which takes use-of-force investigations out of the hands of law enforcement officers. Because this office is not yet ready to take on investigations, we as a community need to keep the CMII accountable.

We are asking our community to step up. Please join us for a community gathering with Love & Justice for Timothy Green this Saturday, September 10th at 4:30 PM. We will gather in solidarity with other community members and organizations on the corner of Sleater Kinney and Martin Way for conversation and learning. We hope to see you there.

Sincerely,

Olympia Showing Up for Racial Justice

Letter to CMITT

September 10th, 2022

Dear Capitol Metro Independent Investigations Team,

A group of core organizers and members of the Olympia Chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) are writing in response to the death investigation of Timothy Green. Unfortunately, there is little trust that this investigation will be truly independent, given that most of the investigators are police officers from neighboring jurisdictions. 

Within minutes of the shooting, police were already misleading the public with a tweet stating that “officers were injured” during the incident. This statement was found to be a complete fabrication. At this point when our institutions are caught spreading lies, they lose any claim of legitimacy and have tainted the investigation from the start. It will take transparency and accountability on your part to regain trust from the public. 

We are tracking this case very closely and expect that you consider the following while conducting your investigation. We expect that at minimum, these questions and concerns be addressed in your reports regarding the death of Mr. Timothy Green:

• We demand that there be an accounting of the exact time sequence of the events of that entire incident.

• HB1310 and State Laws state that officers are required to use the minimal force/de-escalation tactics. 

• Did the officers use all possible de-escalation tactics prior to using force? What were the tactics used?

• What de-escalation tactics were not or considered used and why?

• What less lethal uses of force were used prior to use of a firearm? They claim the tasers did not work. What were the reasons they did not work? What less lethal alternatives were available not used and why? 

• Officers also have a duty to render aid at the scene. Did they render aid? How has this been confirmed?

• RCW 10.120.020 requires deescalation, which is defined at 10.120.010 to include requesting available resources such as the Crisis Response Unit (CRU) when they know an individual is having a mental health crisis or under the influence. OPD was aware that Mr. Green struggled with psychiatric disorders. Did they call the CRU for help?

• Which officer was in charge among the responding officers? Was there authorization to use deadly force? If so, who authorized the use of deadly force?

• What is the background of the officers at the scene? Did they have training in de-escalation, anti-bias, and the history of race and policing?

• Were the officers wearing body cams or using dash cams, and if not why not? 

• Sleater-Kinney/Martin Way is an extremely busy intersection with many cars and businesses. There were likely dozens of witnesses, in cars alone. How many witnesses have you interviewed? What are you doing to find and interview all possible witnesses? We expect that these witness statements will be made available to the public.

• Well after the fact, reports stated that at the time Mr. Green was shot 3 times, officers were attempting to arrest him for Disorderly Conduct, which is a misdemeanor charge. Did he know that he was under arrest, and when did officers inform Mr. Green that he was under arrest? Officers state that they had probable cause to arrest Mr. Green for a misdemeanor. Mr. Green was not actively committing a crime and was never interviewed. How did they justify probable cause? 

At minimum, addressing the above issues and questions will potentially help to gain the trust of the public. If these questions and concerns are not addressed, this case must be handed over to the state or federal government investigative agency for a truly impartial investigation. 

Sincerely,

Olympia Showing Up for Racial Justice

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