The PoLice Terror of Olympia's Ryan Donald

Tiny - Posted on 06 May 2019

Lisa Ganser/PoorNewsNetwork - Idriss Stelley Foundation

May 21, 2019 marks the four year anniversary of the police shooting of two Black brothers, André Thompson and Bryson Chaplin. Ryan Donald is the white police officer that tried to kill both André and Bryson, who survived. Anniversaries of police terror incidents are always difficult for families and communities directly impacted by the trauma. For the Chaplin-Thompson family, that means both surviving and struggling. André and Bryson have become permanently disabled as a result of the shooting, both with PTSD, other health complications, and Bryson is now a wheelchair user, since a bullet Donald shot is still lodged in his back. Officer Ryan Donald was never held accountable for his abuse of force, and it was André and Bryson who had to spend time in jail.


[image: a wheat pasted poster on a light post in downtown Olympia is of poLice officer Ryan Donald, who is portrayed as pinocchio with a long nose and the word LIAR across his chest. Donald is wearing a tie and has the courtroom microphone in front of his face.] #ryandonald

During the trial that led to the incarceration of André and Bryson, Ryan Donald was caught lying many times which is referred to as testilying (instead of testifying) in police accountability community. One of the most obvious fallacies was his claim that skateboards were used as weapons during the incident. Donald could not even get the length of the skateboards correct, while holding one dramatically over his head, claiming the skateboard to be four feet long. The people in the courtroom audibly laughed at that, as the skateboard was clearly closer to two feet long. During the trial, one of many racist memes that had been posted to Ryan Donald’s facebook page was submitted as evidence of his anti-Black racism.  The meme was of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, only this image had an ice cream photoshopped into King’s hand, and the caption said “I have a dreamsicle.” In court, Donald claimed that image was funny and said it was a “play on words,” and not racist. “I just like ice cream,” he said, playing up his charade of innocence.

[poLice officer Ryan Donald on the stand with microphones in front of him, testilying, in his red tie with his notes of his “statement” in front of him, so he knew what to say.]

During the jury selection process leading up to André and Bryson’s trial, one of the potential jurors shared a story about Ryan Donald’s racist behavior, having been asked to elaborate on a question from his written questionnaire. The elder white man said he had been having a problem with mail getting stolen from his mailbox. He called the Olympia police to report it. It took a long time for the police to show up, and when they did, it was Ryan Donald. Donald immediately started questioning the potential juror’s roommate, who is an Indigenous Woman, as if she were a “suspect,” when she was actually a crime victim. The potential juror said involving the police and Officer Donald was more harmful than helpful. He, of course, did not make the final cut to get onto the jury.

Other examples of Ryan Donald’s racist violence were suppressed in the courtroom. One year before the shooting of André and Bryson, in the early hours of May 28, 2014, officer Ryan Donald assaulted CenturyLink employee Tyrone Johnson. Tyrone had been called in to tend to a power outage. He was in his CenturyLink uniform, returning a CenturyLink work vehicle. Donald drove past the CenturyLink building on Martin Way, “noticed an open garage door and a dim light,” and saw Tyrone. He quickly asserted that “burglars were inside” and called for back-up. Tyrone Johnson filed a million dollar civil suit against the City of Olympia naming officers Ryan Donald, George Clark, Jonathan Hazen, Eric Henrichsen and Matthew Henschler, for assault, battery and unlawful imprisonment. Tyrone now has PTSD from being thrown to the ground, and having five police officers pointing guns, including AR-15 assault rifles, at him while merely being Black and at work.

Another deadly “use of force incident” occurred in the ramp-up to André and Bryson’s trial, which actually delayed the court proceedings because Donald was put on paid administrative leave. On February 28, 2016, white, 44-year-old, father of two and loved one, Jeffrey McGaugh, was in a mental health crisis in downtown Olympia at the transit center, and needed de-escalating. Instead of helping, police officers Sgt. Dan Duncan, Rob Beckwell, Jonathan Leavitt, Javier Sola Del Vigo and Ryan Donald intervened, and Jeff McGaugh died. The police investigated themselves after Jeffrey’s violent death, supported by their co-workers at the coroner’s office, and unsurprisingly found the cause of death to be “inconclusive,” and not caused by police use of force.    

[image: make sure you are able to recognize your local killer cop.  photo of Olympia police officer Ryan Donald provided by Olympia Copwatch, a white man in street clothes, he has short brown hair.]

Jeffrey McGaugh is not the only “inconclusive” Olympia death at which Ryan Donald was present. On February 7, 2018, white loved one and trauma survivor Vaneesa Hopson was in a mental health crisis in a West Olympia apartment building, where she lived with her young son. The fire alarm was pulled, a neighbor called 911, and fire fighters, EMTs and police were dispatched. Bystander videos show Vaneesa outside her apartment being wrestled to the pavement, with three police officers on top of her, while she screamed in terror. Vaneesa pleaded for help saying “don’t drug me,” and “they’re going to kill me!” as she was given a “chemical restraint,” an injected dose of Versed, which killed her. When her family came to the hospital to say goodbye to Vaneesa, her face and body were covered with wounds, evidence of the violence that led to her death. Documentation from that night has recently surfaced that names Ryan Donald as one of those three police officers who terrorized Vaneesa Hopson.    

[A heart is drawn in pink chalk on the sidewalk outside the Olympia Police Department and city hall on the one year anniversary of Vaneesa Hopson’s death on February 7, 2019.  It is dark outside and there are candles inside the heart with Vaneesa’s name. Next to that are the words written by Vaneesa’s 9 year old Son, Q, “LOVE YOU.” It has not been acknowledged publicly that Ryan Donald was one of Vaneesa’s killers.]

Ryan Donald is a menace, and has no place on the public payroll. His behavior, along with that of his enabling co-workers, constitutes gang violence. Police officer Ryan Donald makes Olympia a more dangerous place, especially for Black, Indigenous and People of Color, Poor people, Disabled people and UNhoused people.

As the anniversary of the shooting of André Thompson and Bryson Chaplin comes around again, closeby as always to Mother’s Day, the Chaplin-Thompson family plans to spend both days together, out of the public eye, and in celebration of life. They are currently engaged in a retraumatizing civil suit which stipulates “no public comment at this time.” The local chapter of SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice, is doing direct support of the Chaplin-Thompson family, and donations can be made at    

[image: yellow chalk on a curb outside a building called The Martin in downtown Olympia reads FIRE OFFICER RYAN DONALD.]


Lisa Ganser is a white, Poor, Disabled, Non Binary, artist and organizer living in Olympia on stolen Squaxin, Chehalis and Nisqually land. They are a sidewalk chalker, a copwatcher, a dog walker and the Daughter of a Momma named Sam.


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