Three fatal officer involved shootings in 30 days

TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Tuesday's events marks the third time in just a month that a run-in with police has lead to a dead suspect. Many of you were concerned there have been so many. KEPR took your questions to law enforcement, to see just why these incidents deserved deadly force.

Hundreds of hours of training. Thousands of repetitions. Every law enforcement officer practices what to do when faced with an imminent threat.

"In all three, the subjects were armed, in all three, they presented an imminent threat, and in all three, the officers had to use lethal force," said Richland Police Department Captain Mike Cobb.

Officers are quick to say there is no connection to these three incidents. And no change of pattern for an officer's decision to fire a weapon. The first came the last week of June when police shot and killed Aaron Wright in Kennewick. He had pointed a gun at them. It was later found to be fake.

About two weeks later, officers killed Richard Howard at his west Pasco home. Howard spent hours holding police at bay and randomly shooting his gun in the neighborhood before deadly force was used. And then early Tuesday morning Brad Jensen was killed after threatening officers with a knife.

Three incidents, in just about 30 days. One in Kennewick and two in Pasco.

"Three in a month is incredibly rare," said Captain Cobb.

Many of you are wondering why these incidents needed to turn fatal.
Like in the most recent case, did officers need to shoot a man with a knife? I asked Captain Mike Cobb if there are other options.

Reporter: "What would you say to someone who says, why can't you use rubber bullets?

Captain Cobb: "I'd say the person probably doesn't understand how force is used against another. So rubber bullets are great if the subject is unarmed if the opportunity presents itself. (But) that doesn't stop a person's imminent actions so we have to stop the person's actions now or there's a high likelihood that someone else will lose their life."

Reporter: "Someone might say why not shoot just one bullet in the arm and see if they go down. That's not good enough?"

Captain Cobb: "No, you've got about a tenth of a second to make sure an individuals action's are stopped and so an officer will fire until the threat is no longer present. And however many rounds that takes until the threat stops, that's how many rounds they use."

"When officers perceive threats, they have to react to them," said Pasco Police Department Captain Jim Raymond.

All three shootings are still under investigation as to whether or not the officers' actions were justified.

The three officers involved in the Kennewick shooting are back on desk jobs. We were unable to confirm the status of the Benton County Deputy who was put on leave after the Pasco standoff. And the two officers from Tuesday are on administrative leave.