YAKIMA, Wash. — Although the incidents remain under investigation, officers involved in three separate Yakima Valley shootings earlier this month have either returned to work or have been cleared to do so next week.
Two Yakima police officers, who have been on paid administrative leave after shootings at a car wash and at an east Yakima home, will return to duty next Friday, said Capt. Rod Light, a police department spokesman.
Officer Casey Gillette fatally shot Rocendo Arias, 23, in the early hours of Jan. 4 while investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle at an East Nob Hill Boulevard car wash. According to police, Gillette saw Arias sitting in the car with what appeared to be a gun in his hand. The gun turned out to be a replica that shot soft plastic pellets.
Light said there was no dashboard video of the shooting because Gillette’s car was not angled to show what happened. He said there is no policy requiring officers to position their cars so the camera can see what the officer is doing.
An audio recording of the incident is not available because the body microphone Gillette was wearing activates only when a car’s emergency lights are on. Gillette did not turn on the lights, Light said.
The incident remains under investigation by the Yakima Police Department.
Light previously said Gillette had, through an attorney, provided investigators with a written statement regarding what happened at the car wash. Officers have the same right as anyone being questioned and are not required to submit to an interview, Light said.
Gillette had been with the department for 14 months, and previously worked nearly three years for the Toppenish Police Department.
Officer Bryan Elliott shot Lorry J. Rabanal, 51, when police were called to a report of a domestic dispute on East Viola Avenue on Jan. 16. Police said Rabanal was holding a rifle and refused orders to drop the weapon. Elliott shot several times, striking Rabanal once in the arm. Rabanal was treated at a local hospital and taken to the Yakima County jail, where he remains facing assault charges.
Elliot has been with the department for 2 1/2 years.
Yakima police are also investigating this shooting, but both men were cleared to return to work by a psychiatrist, Light said.
He said the officers were returned to duty per department policy that doesn’t require those investigations to be completed.
In the case of a third police shooting, authorities said six Yakima city police officers and seven personnel with the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office involved in a Jan. 3 standoff in Selah that ended in the fatal shooting of Jesse Humphrey have since returned to active duty. Light did not give dates for the return of the Yakima officers, noting that they came back at different times in the month.
Capt. Jeff Schneider, head of the patrol division, identified the six city police officers as Lt. Jay Seely, Sgt. Shawn Boyle, Detective Erik Hampton and officers Joe Deccio, Scott Grant and Rico Reyes. They are members of the city’s SWAT team.
Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin said six deputies and a dispatcher involved in that incident returned to active duty Jan. 17 after being given the opportunity to hire an attorney and talk with a psychologist. He said they have also gone through two critical-incident-stress debriefings.
The incident began when deputies investigating a West Valley theft went to a Selah home, where Humphrey, 30, opened fire on them from a motor home. After a standoff that lasted more than three hours, Humphrey came out of the motor home and was fatally shot by Yakima SWAT officers.
That shooting is being investigated by the Washington State Patrol.