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Jan. 24, 2022

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Vancouver police officers in Sunday’s fatal shooting weren’t wearing bodycams

Agency decided to seek other vendor and sent equipment back on Dec. 29

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
6 Photos
Police tape blocks off the area where Vancouver police officers fatally shot a man they say was armed with a knife Sunday morning. The shooting was at the Sky Ridge Estates mobile home park in Vancouver's North Image neighborhood.
Police tape blocks off the area where Vancouver police officers fatally shot a man they say was armed with a knife Sunday morning. The shooting was at the Sky Ridge Estates mobile home park in Vancouver's North Image neighborhood. (Photo contributed by Rogelio Martinez) Photo Gallery

None of the four Vancouver police officers involved in the Sunday fatal shooting of a man in the North Image neighborhood were wearing body cameras, according to the police department.

Ten officers and six patrol vehicles were equipped with body-worn and dash cameras Dec. 8 when the agency began a 60-day trial period for a camera vendor.

However, the police department said in a Monday news release that on Dec. 29, the committee that evaluated the proposals the city received from vendors decided to end the trial period and reissue a request for proposals. The department sent the equipment back to the vendor that day.

“We recognize that proposal and testing processes take time, but these are vitally important steps to help the city of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department identify and implement the right camera platform with the necessary features, functionalities and support to meet the needs and expectations of the department and community,” Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said in the news release. “Although we are eager to get a system in place as soon as possible, we need to ensure that we are making the right choice and not just the fast choice.”

Police shooting

Early Sunday morning, Rogelio Martinez awoke to the sound of shouting outside of his house at the Sky Ridge Estates mobile home park, near Northeast 59th Street and 131st Avenue. He initially thought someone had broken into his house, he said, but the yelling was quickly followed by a burst of gunshots.

Vancouver police were called at 12:25 a.m. for a reported disturbance with a weapon at the mobile home park, in the 13200 block of Northeast 59th Street. The resident said a male acquaintance was inside the home armed with knives, according to a police department news release.

The caller and several others in the home, including two children, had locked themselves inside their bedrooms, the news release states.

As police responded, it was believed the man had started a fire inside the house. The people inside were able to safely climb through windows to escape as officers arrived. Police said they could smell something burning, according to the news release.

The suspect was also outside the home and confronted officers with a knife, police said. Officers shot the man after he could not be subdued with a less-lethal 40 mm device, according to the department.

The man was taken to a local hospital where he died. Authorities have not yet identified him.

A neighbor’s home security camera captured audio of the shooting. A woman can be heard shouting, “Put it down,” before a burst of about a dozen gunshots.

Martinez said he poked his head outside to see what was going on and saw a body lying at the end of his driveway. Police told him to go back inside before he could see who had been shot.

He called the shooting scary and said it took him a long time to fall back to sleep.

Throughout the morning, residents’ cars were wrapped with crime tape, Martinez said, and they weren’t allowed to move them to go to work. He said a family member picked him up and took him to work.

The four officers, including the one who used the less-lethal device, were placed on critical incident leave, which is standard protocol. They have not yet been identified.

The police department did not say whether all four officers fired their guns or how many shots were fired.

The SW Washington Independent Investigative Response Team, led by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the police shooting.

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