WASHINGTON, USA – A month ago, body camera footage of a police shooting in Vancouver became public, showing a man shot dead after fleeing authorities in the parking lot of a Safeway department store. The guy was seen grabbing a gun and shooting an officer who responded. According to the footage, Vancouver resident and father of three, Joshua James Willson, 43, was shot multiple times on May 30 and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wilson was allegedly involved in multiple armed robberies, according to police. After Vancouver police officers were given body cameras in February, last month’s shooting was the first such incident since then. Vancouver police officers Brandon Riedel, Colton Price and Aaron Yoder all wore body cameras and contributed footage. Detective Zach Nielsen of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office also fired bullets; however, the department has yet to provide body cameras to its officers.
Vancouver police said around 5:30 p.m., a detective from the department’s Neighborhood Response Team spotted Wilson driving west on the 6700 block of E. Mill Plain Blvd. and immediately recognized him as a suspect in numerous prior armed robberies. A rescue unit was dispatched and the detective followed the vehicle to the Safeway at East Mill Plain Boulevard and Andresen Road. According to public records, Wilson’s most recent residence was an apartment on East Mill Plain Boulevard.
According to the investigation, authorities were tipped off that Wilson was armed and had threatened to shoot officers if they tried to arrest him. When Wilson saw police, he allegedly dropped a bag he was carrying, produced a gun and fled through the parking lot, according to the police report.
Video captured by the officers’ body cameras shows them charging into the crowded supermarket parking lot while brandishing guns and shouting orders like “Come on! Go! Go!” and “Police!” They were after Wilson when someone shouted, “Get out or you’ll get shot!” A second police cruiser approached Wilson after he was spotted sprinting past the Northwest Medical Supply store in a Vancouver mall.
After stepping out of his patrol cruiser, the officer shouted twice, “Drop the gun!” while holding his weapon. The officer fired several rounds as Wilson continued to flee, and a slower, zoomed-in version of his body camera footage shows Wilson turning to the officer and firing at least one shot. After Wilson fell to the ground, several cops rushed to his side, applying chest patches to his chest, back and legs while one began CPR compressions in preparation for the arrival of paramedics . On the ground next to him was a gun.
Wilson had a swastika tattooed on his back, which was shown when an officer removed his shirt. “He was shooting at me…” Officer: “I think I’m fine”, heard by other officers. The Vancouver Police Department released body camera footage of three officers without revealing which officer the footage was shared of. The shooting is still being investigated by the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team led by the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.