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Saturday, September 30, 2023
Sept. 30, 2023

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Two Vancouver police officers in fatal parking lot shooting ID’d in prior shootings

Three Vancouver police officers, sheriff’s detective in May 30 shooting of armed robbery suspect identified

By , Columbian staff reporter

Investigators on Thursday identified the three Vancouver police officers and one Clark County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a Vancouver man May 30 in a central Vancouver shopping center parking lot.

Vancouver police Detectives Colton Price and Aaron Yoder, Vancouver police Officer Brandon Riedel and Clark County sheriff’s Detective Zach Nielsen were all placed on critical incident leave last week, according to police, which is a standard practice.

Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team investigators say the four shot 43-year-old Joshua James Wilson after he reportedly ran from officers through the parking lot of the Heights Shopping Center, in the 6700 block of East Mill Plain Boulevard, and pointed a gun at them.

Price has been with Vancouver police since 2012, and he is on the department’s Neighborhood Response Team. Riedel has been with the department since 2018, and he is a patrol officer with the east precinct. Yoder has been with the department since 2015, and he is also on the Neighborhood Response Team, along with the SWAT team. Nielsen has been with the sheriff’s office since 2016, and he is with the agency’s Tactical Detectives Unit, a news release states.

Two of the officers, Price and Riedel, have been identified in prior police shootings.

Price was involved in two fatal Vancouver police shootings, including the Nov. 25, 2014, shooting of Sebastian Lewandowski, 31, and the March 7, 2019, shooting of Carlos Hunter, 43. Both of those shootings were ruled justified. Riedel was involved in the Oct. 4, 2020, fatal shooting of Andrew A. Williams, 41. Columbian archives do not indicate a ruling on that shooting.

Nielson and Yoder do not appear to have been involved in any prior local police shootings, Columbian archives show.

All four officers have been interviewed by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, which is handling the investigation, the agency said.

Shooting investigation

Vancouver police previously said Wilson was wanted for multiple armed robberies and fired at pursuing officers. In a Monday update from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, investigators said videos captured Wilson pointing a pistol at a uniformed officer; the update did not say whether he fired his weapon.

Investigators can’t confirm whether Wilson fired because they are still reviewing video, according to Troy Brightbill, the team’s commander and chief criminal deputy for the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

Here is what investigators say happened: Shortly after 5:30 p.m., the Vancouver Police Neighborhood Response Team, with help from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Detectives Unit, was attempting to take Wilson into custody as he walked out of the Safeway supermarket.

Wilson had arrest warrants, investigators say, and was identified as a suspect in a May 20 burglary at Allen’s Crosley Lanes, 2400 E. Evergreen Blvd., and May 21 and 29 armed robberies at convenience stores at 6510 E. Mill Plain Blvd., and 1901 Kauffman Ave., respectively.

“Officer safety information had previously been shared with law enforcement agencies in the region, noting that Wilson was armed and had reportedly made statements that he would shoot police rather than be taken into custody,” Monday’s update reads.

After an officer spotted Wilson going into the supermarket, more police responded and formed an arrest team in the parking lot near Wilson’s vehicle. When Wilson emerged with his groceries, the officers identified themselves and ordered him to stop. But he ran west through the parking lot, investigators said.

“Videos show Wilson reaching behind his back, and officers then call out that Wilson had a gun. Wilson is seen on video pointing a pistol directly at a uniformed police officer and is then engaged with gunfire from three officers and one deputy,” the update reads.

Officers called for paramedics and rendered first aid, but Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators said he had a pistol in his possession.

No officers or members of the public were injured.

Once the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team investigation is complete, the case will be forwarded to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review. At that point, Prosecutor Tony Golik said his office will review the report for any conflict with his office and determine who will complete the formal review.