Hundreds marched peacefully in Washington’s state capital late Thursday to protest a police shooting that wounded two unarmed stepbrothers suspected of trying to steal beer from a grocery store.
The officer reported he was being assaulted with a skateboard early Thursday before the shooting that left a 21-year-old man in critical condition and a 24-year-old man in stable condition. Both were expected to survive.
The stepbrothers are black, and the officer is white, but Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said, “There’s no indication to me that race was a factor in this case at all.”
Protesters who turned out Thursday evening disagreed, holding signs that read: “Race is a Factor” and “We Are Grieving.”
The shooting follows a string of high-profile killings of unarmed black men by police, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, which set off weeks of protests and a national “Black Lives Matter” movement that has gained momentum across the country.
The two men were identified as Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, both of Olympia.
“It was terrible,” the young men’s mother, Crystal Chaplin, told KIRO-TV. “It’s heartbreaking to see two of my babies in the hospital over something stupid.”