Olympia, WA – Criminals who wear body armor during the commission of an offense could face sentencing enhancements in Washington, due to a new bill introduced by State Senator Steve O’Ban on Friday.
“The legislature finds that during the commission of crimes some criminals wear body armor which presents an enhanced degree of danger for the public and especially law enforcement because it may significantly reduce their ability to use deadly force to eliminate the threat posed by the criminal,” the proposed bill read. “The legislature finds that greater penalties are necessary in order to deter the use of body armor in the commission of a crime.”
According to O’Ban’s legislative page, the bill would add “five years for a class A felony, or maximum sentence of at least 20 years, or both.”
For a class B felony, an additional penalty of three years would apply, “or a maximum sentence for 10 years, or both.”
Lastly, class C felony offenders would face an enhancement of 18 months, or a “maximum sentence of five years, or both.”
Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney, 34, was shot just before midnight on Jan. 7, and died at the hospital on Jan. 8.
He shot his killer five times, but the man was wearing body armor.
Deputy McCartney responded to a call for a home invasion, and began chasing the suspects as soon as he arrived on scene. He was shot within minutes of initiating the pursuit.
Deputy McCartney was able to return fire, police said.
“He ran toward trouble. He ran to protect somebody whose house was being actively broken into,” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told KING.
“He is a young deputy who signed up to watch over other people,” Sheriff Pastor said. “He had an ethic, an ethic in his heart for doing something for other people. Know that. People in the community need to know that.”
Henry Carden, 35, was found dead near the home where the burglary took place.
Carden was wearing body armor, and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, The News Tribune reported.
Samantha Jones, 29, Frank Pawul, 32, and his girlfriend, 52-year-old Brenda Troyer, have all been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping.
According to the News Tribune, investigators later learned that Troyer and Jones dropped Pawul and Carden off at a residence, after Jones got into a dispute with the homeowner over a drug deal.
The armed men held three adults and two toddlers at gunpoint, but one of the residents was able to escape out of a window and contacted police, which resulted in Deputy McCartney’s response to the scene.
He had been with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) for three years, and was a Hoquiam police officer for six years before he joined Pierce County.
“Dan was a good guy and a good police officer,” Hoquiam Police Sergeant Jeff Salstrom told KXRO. “More importantly, he was an extremely devoted dad.”
“This bill is essential for public safety,” O’Ban said on his legislative page. “Criminals wear body armor because they are engaging in violent activity and this bill would discourage that. This will protect our officers, and save lives.”