Kennewick, WA – The Benton County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) released bodycam video of an incident that involved sheriff’s deputies, Kennewick police officers, and an armed suspect found asleep in his car a gas pump (video below).
BCSO Lieutenant Jason Erickson said the incident occurred at about 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 22 when Kennewick police responded to the Circle K in the 7700-block of West Deschutes Avenue for a welfare check, KEPR reported.
BCSO deputies also responded to the Circle K to assist the Kennewick police.
Bodycam video showed that when officers arrived at the gas station, the suspect – later identified as James West – was asleep in the driver’s seat of his vehicle that was parked in front of the gas pump.
Deputies and officers had to try multiple times to wake up West, whose driver’s side window was open.
“Kennewick police! Hello, Kennewick police,” the officer called at the driver. “Hello, Kennewick police.”
West opened his eyes at that point and appeared totally confused, the video showed.
The officer told him that he’d been passed out at the pump and instructed him to turn his car off.
But West said he wouldn’t turn his car off, the video showed.
“Okay, you’re just going to take off?” the officer asked.
“I have to, bro,” West replied.
“Why?” the officer asked.
West mumbled an unintelligible response and then began digging around in his car for a screwdriver, that he then attempted to use to start the vehicle, the video showed.
“No, just turn the car off right now,” the officer ordered West.
West replied that he wouldn’t turn off his vehicle and the officer opened the car door and began pulling the driver out, the video showed.
Bodycam from the officer on the other side of the suspect’s vehicle showed West had a gun concealed at his waist.
The video showed West reached for his waist and the deputy called out that the suspect had a gun.
West fled the area on foot and led officers on a foot chase north on Columbia Center Boulevard and through the intersection at Deschutes Avenue, KEPR reported.
An officer deployed a Taser to try and stop West, but it appeared to have no effect on the suspect who fled toward an apartment complex.
Lt. Erickson said that as West ran down the sidewalk, he pulled a gun from his waist, KEPR reported.
Officers and Deputies yelled at the suspect to drop the gun, but he ignored them and fired a shot.
Then West ran into an apartment complex parking lot and raised his weapon to his head, KEPR reported.
Officers yelled at the suspect to drop his weapon, but he failed to comply.
A deputy fired a shot at West and he fell to the ground, the video showed.
He complied with orders to roll away from his gun, and when deputies and officers moved in to assist him, they discovered he had not been shot, KEPR reported.
West was transported to a local hospital for an evaluation and released for booking into the Benton County Corrections Center.
He has been charged with illegal gun possession and being in control of a car while intoxicated, the Tri-City Herald reported.
He was held in jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.
The Tri-Cities Regional Special Investigations Unit is investigating the officer-involved shooting to determine whether Benton County Sheriff’s Deputy JP Benitez acted within policy and the law in firing his weapon, the Tri-City Herald reported.
The Benton County prosecutor will ultimately determine whether Deputy Benitez should face charges in connection with the incident.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. WARNING – Obscene Language: