Suspect to Be Charged With Murder in Trooper’s Death

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An Olympia man accused of fatally hitting a Washington State Patrol trooper with his vehicle while being pursued by law enforcement on Interstate 5 in Chehalis Tuesday will be charged with murder, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead told The Chronicle Friday. 

William D. Thompson, 39, will be charged with first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle, malicious harassment, two counts of second-degree driving with a suspended license and failing to have an ignition interlock in the vehicle, said Halstead.

Trooper Justin Schaffer, 28, an Adna graduate and the son of Chehalis Police Chief Glenn Schaffer, died Tuesday after being struck by Thompson's vehicle while he attempted to deploy spike strips. 

At Thompson’s preliminary appearance in Lewis County Superior Court on Wednesday, where he appeared in a video call due to coronavirus precautions, Judge J. Andrew Toynbee set bail at $5 million. At that point, he was not formally charged, but Toynbee found probable cause to hold Thompson in the Lewis County Jail. 

According to Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead, Thompson has a pending third-degree assault charge out of Thurston County.

Thompson briefly cut off Halstead Wednesday, saying “I hate to object, but I was victimized,” regarding the third-degree assault charge, but Thompson’s attorney for the day, Don Blair, reminded him it was not his turn to speak.

Halstead continued: “It appears from his history he has a number of cases, most of them gross misdemeanors and misdemeanors, that were dismissed due to his mental health issues. As the court can see from (the defendant case history) he has two active warrants, one from Tumwater and one from the city of Olympia — that was for unlawful display of a weapon.

“As the court knows from the probable cause statement, there was also a potential robbery charge, and that’s one of the reasons why we are asking the court to do a (probable cause) hold so we can get all of that information,” added Halstead.

Blair requested that Thompson have a mental health evaluation.

“I have asked the prosecutor to develop an evaluation order for my client to get an evaluation regarding competency,” Blair said.

Blair said he was under the impression an evaluation had been done for Thompson in a separate matter in January that found him competent to participate in his defense.

Halstead said a second evaluation was done that found he could not assist in his own defense.

“We discovered there was a second evaluation ordered that found that (Thompson) understood the proceedings but could not assist in his own defense, and that a subsequent restoration order was entered,” Halstead said.

Because of coronavirus precautions, two courtrooms were used — one where the hearing occurred and another with a live stream of the hearing.

Several law enforcement members, both in and out of uniform, showed up in addition to the heightened media presence.

Judge Toynbee scheduled Thompson’s competency review hearing for April 16.

The information and probable cause statements are below:

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