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Cause of Deputy's Death Could Take Weeks to Find

Cause of Deputy's Death Could Take Weeks to Find

The Seattle Times via YellowBrix

March 05, 2011

PIERCE COUNTY, WA – It could take at least six weeks to determine whether the death Thursday of a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy was related to an injury he suffered last year in the line of duty.

Shandon Wright, 29, was at home recovering from surgery to repair a shoulder injury when he died, said Sgt. Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

According to Troyer, Wright was at home with his wife and 2-year-old daughter when he began to have trouble breathing. Paramedics sent to his South Hill home were unable to save him, Troyer said.

“We lost an excellent young deputy,” said Troyer on Friday. “Shandon Wright served with us for only five years, but he served this community with strength and intelligence and heart.”

Wright, a five-year veteran of the department, was injured Aug. 19 when he responded to a report of an unwanted party guest at a home in the 1700 block of 5th Avenue East in Spanaway, police and prosecutors say. During a struggle with the suspect, Wright’s shoulder was injured, Troyer said.

The suspect, Erik Michael Blake, 31, was arrested for investigation of obstruction, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana, prosecutors said.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction in Pierce County District Court, according to court documents.

An autopsy Friday did not reveal the cause of death. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office is awaiting the results of further tests, including toxicology, which could take at least six weeks.

If the cause is directly related to the injury he suffered last year, prosecutors will consider whether charges could be filed against Blake in connection with the deputy’s death, said Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindquist.

He said prosecutors would have to prove Wright’s death was a direct and foreseeable result of the injury he suffered during the struggle with Blake.

“The question will be whether the defendant’s actions were proximate cause of deputy’s death and whether the chain of causation was broken by a new independent cause,” Lindquist said.

At this point, new charges appear unlikely, he added.


Troyer said Wright’s death — after the Dec. 21, 2009, slaying of Pierce County sheriff’s Deputy Kent Mundell and the murders of four Lakewood police officers in November 2009 — has delivered a deep “sense of loss” in the law-enforcement community.

“In the last two years, our law-enforcement family has seen far too much loss,” Troyer said.

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