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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: August 3, 2017

Prosecutor finds deputies’ use of deadly force lawful

 

TACOMA, WA - Independent and concurrent investigations by the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office, regarding the shooting death of Charles Shands have been completed. Shands died from multiple gunshot wounds inflicted by Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputies Brent Tulloch, Nickolas Jankens, Brad Crawford, and Colby Edwards. Several Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs shot and killed Charles Shands, 33, after he drove a carjacked vehicle toward the deputies.

Pierce County Medical Examiner Doctor Thomas Clark determined Shands was high on ethanol and cocaine at the time of his death.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist concluded the deputies acted lawfully.

“This appears to be a case of suicide-by-cop fueled by drugs,” Said Prosecutor Lindquist. “The deputies acted to defend themselves and the community.”

On April 14, 2017, at approximately 4:40 in the morning, Shands returned home after drinking at a bar with a coworker. Shands, a JBLM Airman, carried a .45 caliber handgun to the bar and had the gun with him when he arrived home. His coworker left on foot to walk to his home leaving Shands standing alone in his driveway. After his coworker left, Shands began ranting and raving and waving around the gun in the middle of the street. He threatened a neighbor while the neighbor sat in a vehicle getting ready to go to work. The neighbor fled in the vehicle and called 911. A short time later, Shands approached another neighbor couple who was also getting ready to go to work. He threatened these neighbors and pointed the gun at them. They got out of their vehicle and ran, leaving the vehicle running in their driveway.

Six Pierce County deputies responded to the incident. They knew Shands had taken the neighbors’ vehicle at gunpoint and was sitting in the vehicle with the engine running. As deputies arrived and got closer to the vehicle, they started giving Shands verbal commands to get out of the vehicle. Shands did not respond to the deputies’ commands and instead drove off at a high rate of speed past the deputies.

Shands eventually turned into a dead-end cul-de-sac and positioned the vehicle facing the pursuing deputies. Deputies positioned their vehicles in an attempt to block the exit from the cul-de-sac.

Shands suddenly accelerated toward Deputy Jankens’s vehicle while Jankens was still behind the wheel. The other deputies feared that Shands was going to ram into Deputy Jankens’s vehicle and feared for Jankens’s safety. They shot at Shands as he drove towards Jankens’s vehicle at a high rate of speed in an attempt to stop Shands from ramming Jankens’s vehicle. Shands vehicle swerved at the last minute narrowly missing Deputy Janken’s vehicle. Shands lost control and the vehicle jumped the curb and went airborne before coming to rest on a large electrical junction box. The vehicle immediately caught fire and was quickly engulfed in flames. Deputies positioned themselves a short distance away to observe the vehicle and ordered Shands to get out. Shands initially refused to exit the vehicle and remained in the driver’s seat despite the vehicle being engulfed in flames.

When Shands exited the vehicle, deputies ordered him to show them his hands. Shands appeared to reach for something in his waistband. All deputies fired their guns at Shands. He was struck multiple times.

Dr. Clark performed an autopsy and determined Shands had 15 gunshot wounds, 5 of which had the potential to be fatal.

 For more information, please contact James Lynch at (253) 798-6265, jlynch@co.pierce.wa.us.

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