05:37 GMT02 December 2020
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    Two unarmed black men who were shot by a Washington state police officer, one of whom was left paralyzed, were arraigned on Tuesday on felony assault charges.

    Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, who are half-brothers, pleaded not guilty at the hearing.  Both were unarmed when they were shot by Officer Ryan Donald of the Olympia Police Department on May 21.

    The brothers were suspected of attempting to steal beer from a grocery store when they threw the case back at a store clerk and fled on skateboards.

    Officer Donald claimed that Thompson tried to pull him to the ground and Chaplin had raised his skateboard “as if to strike him,” before he opened fire on the two men.

    Donald shot Thompson in the abdomen and Chaplin in the chest, neck, back and arm, causing him to become paralyzed from the waist down.

    Despite Donald never being hit with anything or injured in any way, Chaplin has been charged with two counts of felony assault against the officer as well as one count of misdemeanor assault against a Safeway clerk at whom he is accused of throwing beer.  Footage of the incident showed the worker to be unphased, and does not show them being hit.

    Thompson has been charged with two counts of felony assault against the officer.

    No charges, however, were filed against Officer Donald, as the Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim decided that the cop had “actual, good faith fear” that he may be injured by the young men.

    Olympia has seen a number of protests over the shooting, and a fundraiser for the brothers set up on YouCaring has already raised nearly $12,000.

    “I don’t feel safe in this community, based on the decision that the prosecutor made when he decided to charge these men,” public defender and Olympia resident Larry Jefferson told the News Tribune at a protest in early September. “I don’t think it reflects our community’s values.”

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    Tags:
    protest, Police Shooting, Officer Ryan Donald, Bryson Chaplin, Andre Thompson, Washington, Olympia
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