The Vancouver Police Department has identified the officer who shot and killed a 16-year-old boy while investigating a disturbance late Tuesday night outside a Southeast Ellsworth Road apartment complex.
A police statement said Cpl. Roger Evans was the officer who shot Clayton Joseph. The teen was taken to a hospital and later pronounced dead. A family friend, Conner Bloxham, identified Joseph as the deceased Wednesday.
The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday said Joseph died of a gunshot wound to the chest. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action. The ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability.
Evans, 48, is a 21-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department whose duties have included work in special operations, as a K-9 handler and as a patrol officer. He was promoted to corporal in December and is currently assigned to West Precinct patrol.
Evans previously worked as a police officer for the Gatlinburg, Tenn., Police Department from May 1995 to May 1998.
His service record with the Vancouver Police Department includes a Meritorious Service Award in January 2008, as well as a reprimand for an incident in December 2007 for which he was placed on paid administrative leave for several months following an off-duty incident. Evans drew his weapon during an argument with a shopkeeper, according to Columbian archives.
In the incident, Evans had gone to Top Choice Meat Market in Orchards to retrieve a small deer he brought to the shop for processing. During an exchange with the shop owner, Mike Brannan, the officer became angry that pepper flakes hadn’t been applied to the jerky.
Later, Brannan walked outside to give the box of meat to Evans. The two men gave differing accounts of the attempted exchange, with Evans saying the box was shoved at him, causing him to fall back. Brannan, however, said that Evans did not take the box when it was handed to him, causing the butcher to stumble.
Either way, Evans pulled out a gun, prompting a number of customers inside the shop to duck and call 911.
In a letter of reprimand, then-Vancouver Police Acting Cmdr. Dave King wrote, “While you state your 13 years of law enforcement experience led you to realize you were being assaulted and in a nondefensible position that required you pulling your firearm, that law enforcement experience should have first led you to attempt to de-escalate the argument inside the store. Part of your training and experience involves defusing potentially explosive and confrontational situations so they do not deteriorate to the point they reached.”
In October 2007, a man shot and killed a police K-9 handled by Evans. Ronald J. Chenette, who was described to officers as being mentally ill, was threatening to kill police. While searching for him in dense woods behind Bethel Cemetery in Brush Prairie, Evans released the dog, Dakota, to find him. Chenette shot the dog when he was found, according to Columbian archives.
Chenette was convicted for killing the dog and was sentenced in May 2009 to life in prison. The conviction was Chenette’s “third strike” offense, which triggered the life sentence.
The Dakota Memorial Dog Park at Pacific Community Park, near Northeast 162nd Avenue and 18th Street, is named for Evans’ former partner.
The shooting Tuesday occurred just after 11 p.m., after police were dispatched to a report of a disturbance between a male and female at an apartment complex in the 1200 block of Southeast Ellsworth Road. Witnesses reported that two males, both possibly armed, had then become involved in an altercation in the parking lot.
Police said that Joseph brandished a knife when approached by officers and refused commands to drop the weapon before he was shot.
Evans, who was uninjured, has been placed on critical incident leave, standard department protocol in an officer-involved shooting.
Bloxham, who spoke on behalf of Joseph’s family, said the teen was trying to prevent another male from beating up his girlfriend when he was shot.
Joseph moved to Vancouver last year from the Chuuk state of the Federated States of Micronesia for a better education, Bloxham said. He was enrolled at Evergreen High School, according to district spokeswoman Gail Spolar.
The Regional Major Crimes Team is investigating the shooting.