Yakima police react to year's 3rd deadly officer-involved shooting

Yakima police react to year's 3rd deadly officer-involved shooting »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- We now know who was involved in the officer-involved shooting over the weekend. Rolando Villanueva was shot to death Saturday night during a police chase along Interstate 82. KIMA learned Villanueva mentioned in the past the idea of a "suicide by cop."

There were three patrol cars pursuing Villanueva. Police said it came down to stopping the suspect before he could hurt anyone else.

Deadly force was used for the third time in Yakima County already this year. Yakima police officers were involved in all of them.

"We can't control criminal behavior,” said Yakima Police Department spokesperson Rod Light. “The criminal element out there is going to act how they act."

Those were remarks after Rolando Villanueva's death Saturday night. A YPD officer saw him driving recklessly on South Fair Avenue and tried to pull him over. Instead, investigators said Villanueva rammed the patrol car and took off and hopped on I-82. He headed down the Nob Hill exit, but didn't stop. Ramming more patrol cars, detectives said Villanueva headed right back on the interstate.

That's when Officer Ira Cavin fired three shots.

"When we're faced with a deadly threat, we're trained to neutralize the threat,” said Light. “And, if that's up to including the use of deadly force, then that's what we do."

Villanueva's past indicates something like this had been on his mind. He was convicted for felony harassment in 2011.

A police report of the incident includes a statement from Villanueva's sister. She told detectives he owned a high-powered rifle and stated he would commit suicide by cop.

Yakima police said they can't conclude that was Villanueva's motivation Saturday, and only say the relatively high number of officer-involved shootings this year is random.

What about trying to stop Villanueva without killing him?

"So, was there any way around shooting the suspect? Maybe shooting at the tires?" KIMA asked.

"Well, we're not trained to shoot tires on cars,” said Light. “That's something you'd see on television."

Yakima County's coroner said Villanueva died after being shot in the shoulder and arm. It's too early for any final conclusions on the shooting. A decision on whether the use of deadly force was justified will be up to prosecutors.