By Steve Guntli
The Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office has cleared a United States Border Patrol agent who was involved in a fatal shooting near the Sumas border on March 19.
Whatcom County Prosecutor David McEachran released the findings on May 19. The study concluded that the shooting was “reasonable and justified,” due to the aggressive and erratic behavior of the subject.
“This case is illustrative of the danger that officers face each and every day in Whatcom County,” McEachran wrote. “[Agents confront] people who may be running from authorities in other areas for very serious crimes and present a very real danger for all who encounter them.”
McEachran’s report withheld the names of the officers involved in the shooting.
According to the report, the incident began on March 19 at around 2:30 p.m. A border patrol agent responded to a border sensor going off on Arthurs Way near the crossing. The young man who tripped the sensor, later identified as Jamison Edward Childress, 20, of British Columbia, appeared frightened and disheveled. After the agent flashed the lights on his vehicle and identified himself as border patrol, Childress began backing up and fished a can of bear spray out of his blue backpack. The agent ordered Childress to drop it, but Childress ran, cutting through an embankment at the side of the road and through thick blackberry bushes.
The border patrol agent then radioed for help. Sumas Police Department chief Chris Haugen and an officer responded to the call and moved to intercept Childress. Haugen located Childress emerging from the bushes onto Kneuman Road, his face bloody and still holding the bear spray. The officer pulled his vehicle alongside Haugen’s, and another border patrol agent pulled his vehicle in behind the subject to box him in. The officers repeatedly asked Childress to drop the bear spray and come quietly.
Childress began brandishing the bear spray threateningly, shouting, “You’d better (expletive) kill me, pig!” The Sumas officers backed their cars away from Childress, who proceeded to advance on the lone border patrol agent.
The agent backed up as far as he was able, and repeatedly warned Childress that if he didn’t put down the spray he would be shot. Childress continued to advance aggressively, and finally lunged and sprayed at the agent.
The agent fired his gun twice. One of the shots hit Childress in the head. He died at the scene. The bear spray struck the agent, making it difficult for him to breathe and affecting
Whatcom County medical examiner Dr. Gary Goldfogel conducted an autopsy on Childress on March 20. A toxicology screen came back positive for THC, an ingredient in marijuana. During the investigation into the shooting, law enforcement officials learned Childress was wanted in connection to the March 7 murder of 18-year-old Brando Walker in Calgary, Alberta.
McEachran’s report closes the investigation into the shooting.