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News / Clark County News

Officers fired 20 times at armed robbery suspect in fatal shooting at Vancouver shopping center

New investigation video includes other angles on Joshua James Wilson as he ran from police

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 13, 2023, 12:28pm

Investigators say the four officers who fatally shot Joshua James Wilson on May 30 in a central Vancouver shopping center parking lot had fired 20 shots, striking Wilson an estimated six times, according to a video update released Monday night.

The footage is comprised of audio of radio traffic leading up to the shooting, surveillance video from nearby businesses, graphics of the route Wilson took into the parking lot and running from officers, and body camera footage previously released by the Vancouver Police Department.

The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team, led by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation, released the latest video.

The video update identifies body camera footage from Vancouver police Officer Brandon Riedel and Vancouver police Detectives Colton Price and Aaron Yoder, who investigators say each fired their guns. Monday’s video also includes body camera footage from Vancouver police Sgt. Spencer Harris, who was part of the arrest team but did not fire his weapon.

Editor's note: This video contains graphic content from security cameras and police body-worm cameras. It may be disturbing to some readers. Video summary from the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team investigation of the fatal police shooting at the Heights Shopping Center in on Mill Plain Boulevard in central Vancouver on May 30. Video

Clark County sheriff’s Detective Zach Nielsen also was present and shot Wilson, investigators said, but the sheriff’s office has not yet implemented a body camera program. All officers were placed on critical incident leave after the shooting, according to police, which is standard practice.

Wilson was armed with a Hi-Point Model C9 9 mm handgun, according to investigators. The magazine was loaded with five unspent rounds. The origin of the gun is still under investigation. The handgun could be seen on the ground a distance from where Wilson fell when he was shot. Police video also notes a gun holster attached to Wilson’s belt.

Investigators estimated 1 minute and 55 seconds elapsed from when the first shot was fired to when officers began medically evaluating Wilson, the video update states. Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene. He appeared to have received gunshot wounds to his torso and legs.

The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office has not yet released its findings.

No officers or members of the public were injured.

Riedel fired seven shots from his duty handgun, Nielsen fired six rounds from his duty rifle, Yoder fired four rounds from his duty rifle and Price fired three rounds from his duty rifle, according to investigators.

In an interview with investigators, Riedel said he saw Wilson point a gun and shoot in his direction. He said he believed his life was in imminent danger, and he fired at Wilson, according to the video update.

Nielsen told investigators he saw Wilson point the gun at Riedel and shoot. Yoder said he saw Wilson point a gun at Riedel and heard gunfire. Price also said he saw Wilson point a gun at Riedel. Yoder said he believed an officer and members of the public were in imminent danger, the video update states.

Investigators have not said if Wilson fired at Riedel.

Police response

On the morning of the shooting, Vancouver Neighborhood Response Team detectives, including Price and Yoder, attended a briefing. The detectives received information about Wilson, including the alleged crimes he was wanted for, his physical description and a description of his vehicle. They were told Wilson was considered armed and dangerous, and he had made statements about having a shootout with police rather than going to prison, according to the video update.

Wilson was wanted for first-degree robbery and second-degree burglary, in addition to a Department of Corrections warrant and a federal warrant for firearms charges, the video update states.

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After the briefing, detectives searched for Wilson for hours but couldn’t find him, investigators said.

At 5:28 p.m., Yoder saw the 2005 Mercedes C3 Kompressor associated with Wilson on Northeast Andresen Road at Fourth Plain Boulevard. He said he believed the driver was Wilson and alerted other officers over the radio. Yoder followed the Mercedes until it entered the parking lot for the Safeway supermarket, 6701 E. Mill Plain Blvd., the video update states.

Wilson then went inside Safeway, and officers began setting up an arrest team and containment. Detectives also requested more resources, including a K-9 and air unit, investigators said.

The arrest team, including Yoder, Price and Nielsen, along with Harris, staged with an unmarked minivan just north of Wilson’s Mercedes. Riedel arrived and parked his patrol vehicle in the northwest corner of the parking lot to act as containment, according to the video update.

At 5:47 p.m., Wilson exited the Safeway with a bag of groceries. When he noticed the detectives, he could be seen on store surveillance footage dropping his bag and running to the northwest, toward Riedel.

A few seconds after Wilson started running, Harris could be heard shouting over the radio, “He’s got something in his hands! He’s got a gun! He’s got a gun!” according to the video update.

Riedel had moved his patrol car to cut off Wilson’s path. Wilson could be seen pointing a gun at Riedel before gunfire erupts. The video notes Wilson’s finger appeared to be on the trigger of his handgun as he pointed it at Riedel.

Surveillance video from a car wash across the street and a nearby cannabis dispensary also captured the shooting. A bystander could be seen near a vehicle outside of the dispensary.

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.