VANCOUVER, Washington — The Clark County prosecutor said he has determined that a Vancouver police officer acted lawfully when he shot and killed a 16-year-old boy in February.
Vancouver Police Cpl. Roger Evans fatally shot Clayton Joseph while responding to multiple 911 calls about a domestic violence disturbance and assault at an apartment complex in the Ellsworth Springs neighborhood on Feb. 19.
Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik wrote in his report on the officer’s use of deadly force that Evans clearly stated in an interview with detectives that at the moment he fired his gun, he believed Clayton Joseph was an adult man who’d just threatened people with a knife, and that he, Evans, was about to be stabbed himself.
“The physical evidence in this case supports the facts as explained by Officer Evans,” Golik wrote.
“Although the loss of Clayton Joseph’s life was tragic, the conduct of Officer Evans was reasonable, justified and lawful in this case,” Golik concluded.
According to police, witnesses reported that S. Mate Joseph, 22, assaulted a pregnant female in the parking lot of an apartment complex before the shooting. S. Mate Joseph is Clayton’s older brother.
While waiting outside for police to arrive, two adult residents of the apartment complex who reported the incident were confronted by the younger Joseph. Clayton Joseph, angry that they had called 911, slashed at them and threatened them with a knife, forcing one of them to jump out of the way to avoid being stabbed, police said.
Arriving officers tried to detain S. Mate Joseph, and one of them eventually deployed a stun gun, according to police reports.
Clayton Joseph was approaching those officers from behind when Evans spotted and confronted him, according to the use-of-force report. The teenager brandished a knife at Evans and refused to drop it when ordered. Police reports say Clayton Joseph lunged at Evans, who responded by shooting Joseph once in the chest.