Police shoot armed man
driving on suspended license
[Union Gap, WA]

PoliceOne Staff Report
(UNION GAP, Wash.) -- Police shot and killed a gun-wielding man caught driving on a suspended license who had told friends that he would not go back to jail.

Mark Edward Bess was shot five times through the torso on Dec. 23, according to a Yakima County Autopsy report. Coroner Maury Rice told the Yakima Herald that he died almost instantly.

Bess's family denounced the shooting as an excessive use of force, but police are standing behind their actions.

"We don't have any indication ... that this is not a justifiable shooting," Sgt. Mike Merryman, a detective with the Yakima Police Department, told the Herald.

"The officers used extreme caution and a good measure of restraint -- probably more than anybody would have expected."

About 12:30 p.m. Bess fled police as they attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation. The man lost control of the car and ran off the road.

"He told his oldest boy, 'I love you. I'll be waiting for you in heaven. Go home.' " Bess's brother-in-law, Ron Burns, told the Herald. The 13-year-old was a passenger in the car.

Bess then ran home, grabbed his 9mm handgun and returned to the scene of the accident.

According to reports the man then pointed the gun at police and at one point fired a round into the ground.

"The officers just slaughtered him -- gunned the man down in front of his son. ... Shot five times is overboard," Burns told the Herald. Burns said that he had never heard his brother-in-law mention suicide, " But I know Mark repeatedly said he wasn't going back to jail."

The officers, whose names have not been released, have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.


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