When Andrea Cameron went for an evening run on Feb.1, she didn’t expect to find herself within yards of a police shooting. Just a short time after she reached Duportail Road running north, Richland Police Officer Christian Jabri shot Charles Suarez on the trail ahead of her..
“Do police consider the safety of others?” Cameron asked. “I was on a very well-used pedestrian trail. It’s hard to stop thinking about it. In just a few seconds I could have been in the line of fire.”
Cameron described running at around 7 p.m. with headphones and a headlight to see her path in the dark. When she saw a police car with lights flashing, she realized people were running just ahead of her. She said, “I panicked and froze when I realized that it was some kind of chase.”
Cameron said that she had no idea how many shots were fired, probably because of her headphones.
She stayed at the scene as more and more police cars came. When she was sure it was safe to leave, she went home.
Cameron learned from newspaper accounts the next day that Suarez had wrecked his car, left the scene, and run from police. She said, “Unless he pulled a gun or killed somebody, I can’t imagine why the police would shoot at him on a pedestrian trail adjacent to a residential neighborhood.”
She responded to the request for witnesses to contact police that was at the end of the newspaper story.
She told the police interviewer, Detective Ryan Sauve of the Washington State Patrol, she was shocked at how easily she inadvertently ran into danger.
He responded, “You didn’t match the description.”
She said she wondered, “Did the police presence increase my safety that night or put me more at risk?”
She added that in the future she would leave her headphones at home when she runs.
Cameron recalls that he asked if she would feel threatened seeing someone running toward her on the path. She replied, “I see others running and walking on the path with me regularly.”
The Tri-City Herald reported that after treatment at a hospital, Suarez was released without charges.
Independent team will investigate
Kennewick Commander Randy Maynard is the incident commander for the Independent Investigation Team made up of local officers who are not connected to the involved agency. The team will investigate the shooting and provide their report to County Prosecutor Andy Miller and the Richland Police Department.
Miller will decide whether there is a basis for filing charges against the police officers involved. Based on the investigations that were completed in 2020, the process could take three to six months.
A new police reform law that went into effect January 5, 2020 also requires two community representatives. The police chiefs picked the representatives for their jurisdictions. In a telephone conversation that The Observer had with Maynard, he declined to say which community representatives had been chosen.
Numbers on the pavement
Cameron returned to the path the day after the shooting. She saw nine numbered marks on the pavement in two clusters, one on each path. While she wasn’t sure what the marks meant, she did know that one cluster with numbers 7, 8 and 9 was exactly where she would have been had she not frozen on the side of the road when she did.