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Haskell Declines To File Criminal Charges Against Cop Involved In Shooting

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell says he won’t charge a Spokane police officer in connection with a fatal shooting in January.

Officer Brandon Rankin fired a shot that killed David Novak during a late evening confrontation near Novak’s home in the 600 block of West Montgomery on January 7.

Credit Doug Nadvornick/SPR
Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell briefs reporters about his decision not to charge Spokane police officer Brandon Rankin.

Haskell told reporters today [Wednesday] that his office reviewed police reports that indicated Rankin believed Novak was armed and had already fired a bullet from a shotgun before police arrived.

“I find that Spokane Police Officer Brandon Rankin was justified in his use of deadly force in this incident," Haskell said. "Mr. Novak ignored multiple commands to go to the ground and drop the gun. Officer Rankin had a reasonable belief, again based on information known to him at the time, that Novak was still armed and, therefore, posed a continuing danger to officers in the community if he successfully evaded police. The law allows police to make a mistake of fact if it’s reasonable.”

And Rankin did make a mistake. Novak was carrying a baseball bat, not a gun.

Haskell says the police reports indicate Novak turned and walked toward a house. He says officers weren’t clear it was his house and they wanted to avoid a potential hostage situation. Rankin fired and hit Novak. Novak made his way into the house, collapsed and died as medical attention was administered.

Haskell today [Wednesday] released his full report for the time. That drew an angry reaction from Novak’s mother Debbie, who was in the back of the room. She hadn’t been invited to the press conference and said this is the first she’s heard from authorities since the shooting.

“Shame on you!” shouted Debbie Novak.

“The law says that it’s not public information until a decision is made," Haskell said.

“This is my son! It is our loved ones. Shame on you! You should not handle things that way,” Novak said.

An attorney for the Novak family says it will file civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits against the city.

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