Deputies want criminal charges brought against a car prowl victim

YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA is learning more about why deputies want criminal charges brought against a car prowl victim. Deputies say he should not have shot the man breaking into his car.
KIMA found out why investigators want him charged with assault and what the community thinks about it.

Janice English was shocked to hear a young man could face criminal charges for shooting a man suspected of breaking into his car.

"I think it's wrong. It's wrong. He was just protecting the rest of the neighborhood because he didn't know where these guys were going to go," said Janice English.

Janice lives in the Terrace Heights neighborhood where it happened. After weeks of investigation, deputies recommended 18-year-old Jared Smith be charged with assault.

Janice and other neighbors don't agree.

"I think his actions were justified because he was trying to protect his property," said Neil Knight.

Deputies say two people were ransacking Smith's car as it was parked outside a home on Santa Roza Drive. Smith spotted the men and grabbed a rifle. The suspected prowlers took off running. Deputies say Smith shot a 17 year old in the leg as he ran away.

"I don't think he should have used the gun. I mean, first place it could have killed him and for what he was doing, which wasn't worth death," said June Lobb.

The teenager was flown to Seattle for treatment. He's still there now. Investigators say there was no evidence the teen put Smith's life in danger. Meaning he should not have used lethal force.

"How would Smith know if the car prowler wouldn't come back with say a gun?" asked KIMA.

"We could reasonably use that argument against anyone. So if somebody walks up to me and flips me off can I reasonably assume they'll come back with a gun? No," said Mike Russell, Yakima County Sheriff's spokesperson.

It's now up to prosecutors to decide whether the assault charge is filed.

Deputies never found the second car prowling suspect who was with the teenager.