Yakima police respond to recent officer-involved shootings

YAKIMA, Wash. -- An officer-involved shooting Thursday night marks the third one involving Yakima police officers in two weeks.

Officers responded to a domestic violence call on East Viola Avenue. Investigators said the 51-year-old man inside had a gun. Lorry Rabanal was shot in the arm. Police said he wouldn't put down his weapon.

Yakima police said it's a matter of self-protection. If someone has a gun and an officer feels threatened, deadly force can be used. Every officer goes through extensive training to make the right decision in these stressful scenarios.

"It's clearly coincidence," said Yakima Police Captain Jeff Schneider. "It's the same reason that in the past we've had officer-involved maybe as many as six in a year and then we go several years and have none."

If that's the case, 2014 is shaping up to be on the high side. In all of 2011, there were four officer-involved shootings in Yakima. Two of those ended in death.

"What do you say to people who think police are using their guns too much?" KIMA asked.

"We have something around 85-86,000 contacts a year with people," said Schneider. "It really isn't up to us when somebody produces a handgun and threatens the officer. That's up to the other person."

Thursday night's officer-involved shooting began with a domestic violence call. Officers rushed to the 1000 block of East Viola Avenue. A Yakima police officer said Lorry Rabanal refused to drop his 22-caliber rifle. The officer felt threatened and shot at Rabanal multiple times hitting him in the arm.

Police experts said our society is becoming more violent. Studies have shown young people are de-sensitized to violence because of video games.

"It's not just a matter of the officer using force," said International Union of Police Associations Spokesperson Rich Roberts. "It's a course of how many people use force against the officer and that has been on the increase."

When a suspect poses a threat, officers often have just moments to decide how to react.

"What do you say to people who question the police's judgment in these kinds of cases?" KIMA asked.

"Well the first thing I would say is you need to wait until you know the facts before you pronounce judgment," said Schneider.

Each of the three shootings will result in two separate investigations to determine if deadly force was justified. With all of these shootings, the officers involved are immediately put on paid administrative leave.

Rabanal was treated for his injuries and then booked into jail. He's facing felony assault charges.