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Federal Way police officer who struck suspect with vehicle back on duty
A Federal Way police officer who was placed on administrative leave after he struck an armed robbery suspect with his vehicle in July has returned to duty.
According to documents the Mirror obtained of the police department’s internal investigation, officer Justin Wilson reacted appropriately when he hit the suspect.
An administrative memorandum from Commander Steve Neal stated Wilson’s force against the suspect was “within the accepted practices and in compliance with Federal Way policy and procedures.”
“It is impossible to predict all circumstances that an officer might encounter in the field at any given time,” the memorandum states. “Officers are trained to react to circumstances and behaviors and to make decisions that will accomplish the mission of the police department and earn the public’s trust.”
The memorandum states the main lesson learned in the incident is that officers should better communicate with each other.
“Responding officers are able to be more efficient if they have valuable information to front load them prior to their arrival,” the memorandum continues.
The two suspects were recently charged with first-degree robbery and a third suspect faces the same charge in the July 14 incident, when Wilson happened to be in the area by coincidence and stopped the drug-deal-gone-bad.
According to court documents, Wilson saw a man wearing a black mask crossing the road at the Dumas Bay Centre. He said the man dropped a handgun out of his hand and Wilson struck him with his vehicle.
The suspect, later identified as 18-year-old Antonio Godfrey, of Federal Way, was transported to Tacoma General Hospital with minor injuries.
Godfrey later told police his friends asked him if he wanted to go pick up an ounce of marijuana with them. He said one of his friends drove the three to the Dumas Bay Centre area to buy the pot. Godfrey said his friends supplied him with the mask and a handgun, which he said fell out of his pocket onto the roadway before Wilson’s vehicle struck him.
He told police the trio didn’t rob the victim as they had enough money to buy the marijuana from him.
However, the victim told police that Godfrey, whom he knows, wore a mask and pointed a gun at him, demanding the three half-ounce bags of marijuana, according to court documents. The victim said Godfrey took the marijuana and ran, and 15 seconds later was hit by the police car.
Officers subsequently located Champell Johnson, 19, after a short foot pursuit. He denied involvement in the robbery.
Godfrey pleaded not guilty to the charge on Aug. 13 and his bail was set at $50,000. He has one prior conviction for assault and is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Johnson’s arraignment is set for Aug. 27 in King County Superior Court.