Thurston County prosecutor rules officer-involved shooting of William Abbe was justified


Three Vancouver Police officers shot Abbe on April 28 after the 50-year-old Vancouver resident committed ‘several felony assaults’

A Thurston County prosecutor has ruled that the officer-involved shooting that took the life of 50-year-old William Abbe on April 28 in Vancouver was justified.

William Abbe was shot and killed by three Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers who responded to a report of a physical fight between Abbe and another man in the area of NE Stapleton Rd. and E. Fourth Plain Blvd. According to police reports, Abbe refused commands to drop sharpened objects he was holding. Photo by Mike Schultz
William Abbe was shot and killed by three Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers who responded to a report of a physical fight between Abbe and another man in the area of NE Stapleton Rd. and E. Fourth Plain Blvd. According to police reports, Abbe refused commands to drop sharpened objects he was holding. Photo by Mike Schultz

Abbe was shot and killed by three Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officers who responded to a report of a physical fight between Abbe and another man in the area of NE Stapleton Rd. and E. Fourth Plain Blvd. According to police reports, Abbe refused commands to drop sharpened objects he was holding.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office finalized its investigation, which included members of an Independent Investigative Team, of the shooting and forwarded it to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office on May 28. 

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Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik
Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik

Seeking a thorough, independent review, Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik made the decision in June that he was sending the investigation to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s office for review. That review was completed by Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Scott Jackson and the report was made public Wednesday.

“I think that it’s clear that this is a very professional review by a highly experienced criminal prosecutor that was done at complete arms length and completely independent, which I think is the best practice in these cases,” Golik told Clark County Today. “I think it was a very thorough report. I think they addressed all of the relevant issues. I very much appreciate them agreeing to take the important work.’’

Golik said the investigation review by the Thurston County prosecutor completes his office’s review of this incident.

“This is the same function our office would have engaged in,’’ Golik said. “Thurston County acted as a special deputy for Clark County so this concludes the criminal review in this case.’’ 

Golik also continued to express his belief that his decision to seek an independent review was the appropriate path to a resolution of the investigation.

“I think that this is the best process for the community, for surviving victims’ families and for the officers involved,’’ Golik said. “These cases should be, in my opinion, reviewed professionally and in a manner that is unquestionably at arm’s length and that was done in this case. And, because, in my opinion, independence can’t reasonably be questioned, I expect there will not be any further review of this case. I do think that asking for a professional, totally outside review is the best method for everybody who looks at this to have confidence in the outcome.’’ 

In his report, Jackson said the actions of VPD officers Sgt. Jay Alie and officers Sammy Abdala and Sean Suarez “was lawful and justified.’’ Jackson’s report detailed “several felony assaults’’ committed by Abbe prior to the officers’ decision to fire their weapons. Jackson also wrote in his report that the officers “feared for their own safety and the safety of others.’’ The report indicated that evidence demonstrated the officers’ belief was “reasonable.’’

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About The Author

Ken Vance got his start in the newspaper industry in 1987 as a reporter at The Columbian Newspaper in Vancouver. Vance graduated from Stevenson High School in Stevenson, WA, and attended Clark College in Vancouver. He worked for The Columbian from 1987-2001. He was most recently a staff member of The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground, where he served as editor since 2010 and reporter since 2007. Vance’s work in the newspaper industry has won him multiple awards, including a first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for in-depth reporting.

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