Man shot by Bainbridge police found not guilty of first-degree assault

The man accused of assaulting a Bainbridge police officer before leading police on a frantic chase through downtown Winslow last year was found not guilty of first-degree assault at the close of his trial last week in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Brandon Thomas Roberts was ordered released from jail without bail following the jury’s decision.

Roberts, 43, of Port Orchard, was found guilty on two other charges: possession of drugs and attempting to elude a police vehicle. His sentencing on those charges has been set for April 12.

Roberts had been charged with two counts of first-degree assault following his arrest in February 2018 at the end of a police pursuit that culminated in a dramatic showdown in downtown Winslow, where Roberts was shot twice in the chest by a Bainbridge officer after police said he lunged at an officer with a knife as he tried to get out of his car.

One assault count was based on his attempt to leave the scene of a 911 call outside Ordway Elementary in the early afternoon of Feb. 7, after a witness reported a woman on the ground in the school’s parking lot.

Police arrived to find a woman on the pavement next to the passenger side door of Roberts’ 2010 Ford Mustang, with Roberts leaning over the woman and trying to give CPR.

Roberts allegedly told police the woman had overdosed on heroin. One Bainbridge officer took over CPR while another officer gave the woman two doses of Narcan to revive her. Authorities said Roberts began pacing back and forth, but they asked him to move to get out of the way of an EMS unit that had arrived on the scene.

Instead, Roberts jumped in his Mustang and started it.

Police said Roberts started arguing with the officer who told him not to move his car, and when Roberts reached between the driver’s seat and the center console of the car, police were worried that he was reaching for a weapon.

One of the Bainbridge officers pulled his service weapon out, pointed it at Roberts, and told him to turn off the car and show his hands. But Roberts refused, and struck the left knee of the nearby police officer with his vehicle as he escaped.

Police chased Roberts through the streets around downtown Winslow, finally trapping his Ford Mustang on Winslow Way after Roberts tried to make a U-turn near Winslow Green and police rammed his car.

According to court records, Roberts locked himself inside his Mustang and refused to come out. He allegedly shouted obscenities at police and yelled “Lemme do this!” as police tried to get him out of his car. Roberts continued to yell obscenities as police as he pulled out a syringe and began to inject himself in his left forearm.

A sheriff deputy tried to break a passenger window of the car, and moments later saw Roberts grab a knife with a 6-inch blade.

Authorities said Roberts was still holding the knife when he tried to get out of the Mustang through the passenger side of the vehicle.

The Bainbridge officer later said he feared for his safety, as well as the safety of his fellow officers and the public, when he shot Roberts twice in the chest “to stop the armed suspect’s attack.”

Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney Tina R. Robinson reviewed the Feb. 7 shooting, and determined police were justified in shooting Roberts and said the use of deadly force against Roberts was “both lawful and justified.”

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