In August, Wapato, Washington Mayor Tony Guzman called an officer who shot and killed a man during a domestic violence dispute a “disgrace” in a strongly worded Facebook post. “I hope they prosecute him to the full extent of the law!” the mayor wrote.
Naturally, police officials were not happy with Guzman for naming officer Michael Campos and criticizing his actions before a full investigation could be conducted.
In October, Prosecuting Attorney Joe Brusic said that officer Campos had acted prudently.
“Officer Campos will not be charged with a crime in regards to this incident. He acted rationally and prudently as he had been trained,” Brusic wrote.
But the mayor is not backing down from his comments.
“Do I regret posting it? No,” Guzman told the Yakima-Herald. “Should I have worded it different? Yes.” The mayor is also not happy that the officer will be put back out on the street. “Let me put it this way, I spoke to [Chief of Police] Simmons last week. He told me he was bringing Campos back and I said I think that’s a big mistake,” the mayor told the Herald. “If he does, he’ll have to deal with it. And if the family shows up at my office, I will walk them across the street [to Simmons’ office] and he can deal with it.”
Here’s what happened, according to the prosecuting attorney’s report. On July 31st, two officers responded to a domestic violence call at the home of Michael Torres’ family member. Officers confronted Torres in the bathroom. A struggle ensued, and officer Campos fell backwards into a bathtub. Torres reportedly reached for the officer’s gun and grabbed his Taser, shooting the Taser at the other officer. He then allegedly aimed the Taser at Campos, at which point the officer shot him four times.
But family members dispute the account, saying that Torres never attacked the officers. And Torres’ girlfriend claims that Campos fell into the bathtub, pulling Torres down on top of him, and that when Torres tried to right his balance Campos shot him, the Herald reports.
Whether or not Torres was compliant, he was not lethally armed—which is true in 40 percent of officer-involved shootings, the Washington Post reports. He was the seventh person to die at the hands of Yakima County police since 2014, according to the Herald.
In recent years, reform-minded police departments working to lower the number of officer-involved shootings are scrambling to find ways to defuse tense situations without the use of lethal force.
In October, a Washington think tank introduced a program that would reform police training regiments to emphasize de-escalation tactics when the suspect is not armed, WaPo reports. But there’s resistance—the initiative has been denounced by the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Criticizing officer actions certainly brings out strong emotions. Here are a few of the responses to a story about the mayors’ response to the Torres shooting posted to a Blue Lives Matter website.
“Big Damn words from an ass who’s never pinned a badge on or risked his life for another,” wrote one commenter. “He must be proud of his intelligence since he can’t even spell worth a Damn. You ignorant ass. To degrade an officer for doing his job and protecting the citizens? When does the recall election start?”
“You should know by now that liberals have no use for facts,” writes I AM DEPLORABLE ✓ᵀᴿᵁᴹᴾ.