YAKIMA, Wash. — A small protest was organized outside the Yakima Police Department on Saturday afternoon to draw attention to two officer-involved fatal shootings earlier this year.
Ten people, most of whom had personal relationships with a Selah man who was shot and killed by police after a violent standoff in January, participated in the rally.
Their friend, Jesse Humphrey, 30, was in his motor home in Selah on Jan. 3 when Yakima County sheriff’s deputies approached with a search warrant for two separate theft investigations linked to the address. Deputies said they asked Humphrey to exit the motor home, and instead he opened fire, leading to an hourslong standoff.
Humphrey, a convicted sex offender, eventually came out of the motor home and was fatally shot by Yakima police SWAT officers. A security video later showed Humphrey was on the ground when officers shot him, which his friends say made his killing unjustified.
“It wasn’t justified. None of it was,” Crystal Lakey, Humphrey’s roommate in the motor home, said.
Protesters also said the fatal shooting of Rocendo Arias the next day by a Yakima police officer also was unjustified.
Officer Casey Gillette fatally shot 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 officer said he fired when Arias lunged at him with the gun.
The gun turned out to be a replica designed to shoot soft plastic pellets.
“Even if he had a real gun, he wasn’t shooting at anything,” Selah resident Brian Hayman, 34, said.
Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty ruled the shooting of Arias justifiable after reviewing a Yakima police investigation of the incident.
Editor’s note: This story has been revised to correct information on Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty’s ruling. Hagarty has issued a ruling on the Yakima shooting, but he has not yet reviewed the Selah case.