The Kittitas police officer wounded in a shootout that killed a local deputy and a suspect was released Saturday from Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, joined by his pregnant wife and with a vow to return to the police force.
Benito “Kellyn” Chavez, 22, was shot in the leg Tuesday evening after an attempted traffic stop turned into a chase in Kittitas County. A helicopter took him that night to the Seattle hospital, which has a trauma center.
Kittitas County Sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson, 42, and suspect Juan Manuel Flores Del Toro, 29, of Ellensburg, were both killed in the shooting. It was the first fatal shooting of a law-enforcement officer in the county in 92 years, according to Kittitas County Sheriff Gene Dana.
Saturday afternoon, crews rolled Chavez on a gurney into a Kittitas ambulance, where he was driven home in a motorcade of police and fire vehicles from Seattle, Bellevue and Kittitas.
But first, he and his wife, Monica, who is 32 weeks pregnant, stopped to thank those have supported them.
“It’s been incredible,” Officer Chavez said from the back of the ambulance. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”
“I’m doing well,” he said. “My leg hurts. It’s gonna be a long recovery.”
Chief Chris Taylor, standing next to the ambulance, thanked those who have donated to funds for both Chavez and the late deputy Thompson. He said Chavez’s time as a police officer isn’t over.
“He has not balked at all about coming back to duty,” Taylor said. “He’s just as strong now as he was, if not stronger.”
His absence will be felt. The town of 1,500 people, east of Ellensburg, has a small police force — Taylor, Chavez and one other officer.