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Washington state lab will aid in shooting inquiry


The only witnesses in the shooting of a woman by a special weapons team member in September were the shooter and his target, the Clark County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday.

Evidence so far supports Deputy Mike Nolan's version of events, Mike Evans, the sheriff's chief criminal deputy, said Tuesday.

But to be doubly sure, Evans is bringing in forensic scientists from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory, who will use a sophisticated computerized, three-dimensional mapping technique to reconstruct who was where.

Debbie Porter, 42, was shot Sept. 22 by Nolan, a special weapons team member, after a three-hour standoff at a Battle Ground house.

Evans said the only other person nearby was Deputy Vince Fairhurst, who has said he could not see Porter.

The 3-D mapping technique most often is used to precisely map murder scenes. It will take about a month to finish it, Evans said.

Porter insists she was unarmed when she was hit in the arm and chest.

Nolan says he fired after Porter appeared at a bedroom window with a handgun aimed in his direction.

He will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete.

Porter does not deny that earlier that day she had displayed and fired a handgun, but she said that when she went to the window, "The gun was on the floor near the door."

She said she was lured to the window by a "nice-talking" police officer.

Evans said he was told that the gun wasn't where Porter said it was, which is another reason for the 3-D mapping. Positioning of the two participants is important because after she was shot, Porter did not collapse inside but walked outdoors under her own power.

Evans said the investigation must be thorough to protect both Porter and Nolan and to assure the public that the sheriff's inquiry is "objective, not subjective."

To further ensure an objective investigation, detectives from the King County Sheriff's Office will assess the sheriff's inquiry after it is complete. They can require more investigation if they think it is needed.

Evans said King County was contacted because its detectives have experience with such shootings and because it has no interagency agreements with Clark County, as the Portland Police Bureau does.

During the standoff, according to police radio transmissions, Porter reportedly threatened to kill herself and any police officer who entered the house. She was armed with a large handgun, according to the radio transmissions.

But if Nolan was mistaken or accidentally fired, "Well," Evans said, "that's when we'd have to start the appropriate internal department processes."

(iSyndicate; The Oregonian; Nov. 1, 2000). Terms and Conditions: Copyright(c) 2000 LEXIS-NEXIS, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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