Prosecutor agrees shooting justified
Last updated 6/18/2020 at 12:47pm
COLVILLE — The Stevens County prosecuting attorney is concurring with local investigators who determined the April 11 shooting death of a traveler was justified.
Prosecuting Attorney Tim Rasmussen reviewed the case and issued his findings June 11.
According to the review, Ritzville policeman Jeffrey Lane acted in good faith when he shot and killed Shaw Lee, 48, of Susanville, Calif., in the parking lot of Love’s Country Stores and Travel Stop on April 11.
“It is the finding of this office that officer Jeffrey Lane acted within the law when he shot and killed Shawn Lee. No charges will be filed in this matter,” Rasmussen wrote in the review. “The law does not require a peace officer to await the tragedy of a blade striking a fellow officer before he acts with lethal force. To do so would go against their training, experience, and their duty to protect the public at large.”
Lee was approaching Lane and another law enforcement officer swinging a machete over his head when Lane fired his Taser at Lee, records show. The Taser probes struck the outside of Lee’s coat and had no effect.
Lane then drew his service weapon, a Smith and Wesson 9 mm, reports show.
Washington State Patrol trooper Nate Romaneschi ordered Lee to drop the machete, at which point Lee refused and asked Romaneschi to shoot him, patrol video footage shows.
“And, it was in that moment, when Shawn Lee was aggressively moving towards trooper Romaneschi with the machete raised over his head and he was within seven to 10 feet of Romaneschi, that officer Lane fired three shots into Shawn Lee,” the report states.
“At that time, I felt I had no other viable option but to use lethal force to stop trooper Romaneschi from being injured or killed,” Lane reported. He said he had no doubt in his mind that “when Mr. Lee advanced aggressively towards trooper Romaneschi, his goal was to use the machete on him to cause bodily injury or harm.”
Lane and Romaneschi performed CPR on Lee after calling 911, reports show. Lee was pronounced dead on arrival at East Adams Rural Healthcare.
According to the report, Lee had recently attempted suicide by self-immolation and had ideas of suicide-by-cop on a somewhat frequent basis. Lee had used methamphetamine just days before the shooting occurred, according to the report.
Lee was passing through Ritzville with his son, Darin Bonine, when his vehicle broke down April 10, and they were stranded in town.
Lane and Romaneschi were dispatched to Love’s Travel Stop just before 11:30 p.m. April 11, after Bonine called 911 and stated his father was “suicidal again.”
Lane, a full-time deputy with Adams County Sheriff’s Office, was serving as a reserve officer for Ritzville Police Department when he took the call. He has 17 years experience as a peace officer, and has worked part-time for city the past four years.