By Chloe Marina Manchester
The trial for brothers Andre Thompson and Bryson Chaplin, two young black men who were both shot by white Olympia Police Officer, Ryan Donald, in May 2015, finally began Monday, April 10, almost two years after they were shot. Both Thompson and Chaplin survived the shooting but Chaplin was left partially paralyzed. Now, Thompson and Chaplin are both on trial for second degree assault in relation to their altercation with the officer who shot them.
The trial was delayed numerous times, because of a hospitalized judge with a toe injury, approaching holidays after he was released, and then the judge’s retirement. The trial is expected to continue multiple weeks, through the beginning of May, near the two year anniversary of the shooting. As of Monday April 16, Officer Donald has yet to testify.
As stated in a previous issue of the Cooper Point Journal, Thompson and Chaplin now face assault charges from an alleged attack on Donald, in which he claims they threatened him with a skateboard. At the time Prosecutor Jon Tunheim stated, “In my view, the way the skateboard was described as being used meets the definition of deadly weapon under Washington law.” Thompson is also being charged with one count of third degree theft and Chaplin is being charged with three counts of theft and an additional charge of third degree assault for allegedly attacking a supermarket employee.
They both face a second degree assault charge and Chaplin faces and additional third degree charge for allegedly throwing beer at the Safeway employee who confronted them about alleged shoplifting. Chaplin faces three counts of third degree theft and Thompson faces one related count of third degree theft.
In an article in San Francisco Bay View titled “Two sons shot in the back by police: A mother’s cry for justice,” Thompson and Chaplin’s mother, Crystal Chaplin, writes “I was afraid for André and Bryson and remain so to this day. Bryson is now a paraplegic with a bullet in his back from the Olympia police officer who opened fire on him and his brother. When I learned that he couldn’t walk and saw the x-ray that showed the bullet in his spine, my hurt turned to anger. In my heart, I knew the police had lied.” Chaplin says the police originally said her sons were shot in the chest, but this was untrue, calling into questions Officer Donalds story that the shooting was in self defense.
The officer who shot Thompson and Chaplin was put on administrative leave, but later returned to work in his full capacity. In February of 2016, Donald was one of five officers involved in the detainment of a man who died in police custody.
Court sessions take place from 8:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the evening. Monday through Thursday with a morning break, afternoon break, and lunch break. According to the court support for Andre and Bryson Facebook page, maintained by Olympia SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), the family of Andre and Bryson have requested supporters attend court to show solidarity for the brothers.
Crystal Chaplin commented on the first week of the trial, saying “Sitting in the courtroom during this trial has been overwhelming, exhausting and traumatizing all over again. To watch the Olympia Police testify and lie about the scene is terrifying to us all.”
She told us “I thank the Creator for both my sons lives” but expressed a feeling of injustice that Thompson and Chaplin are the ones in court after “they survived police brutality and attempted murder at the hands of Officer Ryan Donald that night.”