Councilman Jim Cooper portrays Olympia Police as racist by hiding terrifying facts

Video shows the missing part of the Talking Points about that night

On May 21, 2015, an Olympia Safeway employee came to work like it was any other day.

Before her shift was over, she had a thirty pound case of beer thrown at her during a crazed fit of theft and vandalism.   She told the 911 operator that her assailant had already robbed the store earlier.

Miraculously, she wasn’t badly hurt.  She managed to smack down the thirty pound weapon.   Glass shattered.

She could have easily been knocked back and seriously injured.  The case of beer could have landed on her.  She could have suffered cuts, broken bones and internal injuries.

If she had fallen back and hit her head, she could have died.

Actress Natasha Richardson died in 2009 from a simple fall and head bump, during a beginner’s ski lesson.

Closer to home, Rochester community activist Pierre DuBois died in 2015, from falling and hitting his head at home.

Pierre was a dedicated volunteer for Stone Soup Ministries.   At Christmastime, he was the Ministry’s Santa and bell ringer, raising hundreds of dollars.  He had just finished making home deliveries of free meals before his accident.

Tragedies like this happen in the blink of an eye.  Life can turn on a dime.

Prior to the attack on the Safeway employee, the assailant had wildly swung his skateboard around and around until he fell down, just a few feet outside the store entrance.  Visibility was partially blocked by large bin displays.  It was dark outside.

People were still going in and out of the store.  They could have easily been knocked over by the swinging skateboard.

The assailant’s step-brother laughed and played along.

They both were acting like they were high as kites.

Here is the video from that night (video title wrongly states that suspect was killed) –

After fleeing the attempted robbery and attack on the Safeway employee, the step-brothers were confronted by Olympia Police Officer Ryan Donald, who attempted to apprehend them for the attack.

Officer Donald was then attacked with a skateboard.  After the attack on Officer Donald, the suspects fled.

He shot them as they fled.  They both survived.   The one who attacked the Safeway employee is now in a wheelchair.

They are now going on trial for their attacks, nearly two years later.

The suspects are black; the officer is white.  The predictable chanting of hate-filled slogans followed the shootings.  Protesters demanded that Officer Donald be fired.

Throughout the commotion, nobody mentioned the attack on the female Safeway employee.  The facts of that crime were censored from the discussion.

Little concern was shown for the victim.  There was an outpouring of sympathy, though, for her attackers.

Little attention is paid to what could have happened next if Officer Donald hadn’t stopped the attackers.

But here in our little rural community of Rochester, we know what can happen.

All jacked up…and life threatening insanity

A few years back, our friend and neighbor Don Tapio survived an unbelievably long and savage beating on his farm, by a stranger who was high on drugs.

After Don got out of the hospital, he told my husband Steve that, throughout the attack, he thought that he was going to die.  It was a miracle that he survived.

Don Tapio is a lifelong Rochester resident and Christmas tree farmer, and a longtime WSU extension agent.  He knows everything about plants and farming, and our community.    He is a kind and gentle soul, and he doesn’t have an enemy in this world.

Don’s farm is surrounded by other family farms, including ours.  We are surrounded by the Mennonite community, and we are close to their church and school.  It is a lovely, peaceful area.

On that horrific day, I was puttering around alone in our greenhouse. The fans were whirring at full speed.  I had the radio cranked up, and I belted out classic rock songs while I watered and re-potted.  If the dogs had barked, I wouldn’t have heard them.

Steve was at our restaurant, and I was alone on the farm.  Our woods separate us from the outside world.

Nearby, Don Tapio was tending his Christmas trees that were growing in tidy rows along our wooded stretch of Highway 12, near the Grays Harbor County border.

A man high on drugs–a tweaker–had engine trouble.  He pulled his vehicle over to the side of the road.

He saw Don peacefully tending his trees.  Alone.

He dragged Don to a secluded spot, shackled him with his own clothes, then robbed him, and savagely beat him.  Over and over.  Then he fled.

Our community reeled with the news.  Don was surrounded by love and support during his long recovery.

As terrifying as Don’s nightmare attack had been, and as horrible as his injuries were–it could have been worse.  The angels were watching over him that day.

Two hit-and-runs in November

Four months ago, our quiet community was twice rocked by hit and run tragedies.  The first time, the assailants’ car was abandoned, loaded with illegal drugs.

Twelve days later, a pedestrian was killed.  We don’t know if drugs were involved, because the driver fled the scene, and has yet to be found.

I heard the first hit-and-run collision, from inside our house.  It sounded like an explosion.

West of Rochester, someone speeding down Forstrom Road hadn’t bothered to stop at the intersection of Highway 12.  They flew through the intersection and smashed right into a small car driving west, toward the nearby Chehalis reservation.  That car was driven by a woman from the Chehalis Tribe.

Her car was flipped onto its top from the impact.  It landed, crumpled, in the woods along the highway.

Steve arrived at the scene soon after.  Seeing the victim’s crushed car upside down in the woods, he couldn’t believe anyone could have survived.  Miraculously, her injuries weren’t serious.

The man and the woman in the hit-and-run car fled on foot, abandoning their car and their stash.  They disappeared into the dense woods.

The Sheriff’s K9 unit responded, along with many other emergency vehicles.

The K9 dog picked up their trail, then lost it.

I posted the accident in The Real Rochester facebook page, and posted updates as I got more information from Steve.  Our neighbors were understandably afraid of two drugged-out fugitives running loose in the woods, with so many secluded homes.

We remembered what had happened to Don Tapio.

From the looks of the victim’s car, the fugitives could have thought that they had killed someone.  It was safe to assume that they wouldn’t care much what happened to the next person.

Steve set out going door to door, telling our neighbors what had happened.  He told them that two fugitives were nearby, probably under the influence.

Our first priority was the nearby Mennonite church and school, and the surrounding Mennonite families.

After checking on people, Steve climbed fences to check on horses belonging to frightened neighbors who couldn’t leave work.

Here is one of my update posts to my community from that day –

The fugitives have yet to be found.

Just twelve days later, our rural community’s fear returned as tragedy and loss.

And again, The Real Rochester facebook page was filled with horror.

The Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, a driver on Highway 12 saw someone lying on the ground, seventy-five feet from the road.  He had been a pedestrian.  The impact had thrown him that far.

This time, it was too late.

All day long, our community waited to find out his name.

Terrified families kept posting on facebook and asking if people had seen male relatives or friends who they couldn’t get on the phone.

Then finally, after an agonizing day –

Ken Rose’s family said he liked to go out walking.

The driver never stopped.

And just like the hit and run fugitives from twelve days earlier, we still don’t know who hit Ken Rose and left him on the side of the road on Thanksgiving Sunday morning.

Photo from Ken Rose’s sister, Rhonda Sincleir

Jim Cooper’s 2016 video interviews about the May 2015 shootings

Last year, Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper ran for Thurston County Commissioner.  Despite multiple endorsements and big money, he lost to political newcomer John Hutchings.

Cooper is currently facing claims by the Washington Attorney General for violating campaign finance laws in that race.

Jim Cooper also has multiple connections to felony drug dealer and investment scammer Joe Hyer.  In 2015, Cooper pitched Hyer’s securities fraud in the local media.  The following year, Hyer was Cooper’s campaign finance chair.

Last September 15, Jim Cooper was a guest on two youtube videos by “Project Sanity,” discussing his campaign for Thurston County Commissioner.

In the first video, Jim Cooper allowed the interviewer to portray the 2015 Safeway events in a completely different light by leaving out much of the story, including the thirty pounds of beer being thrown at a woman.

Cooper never corrected the interviewer’s account of what happened that night.  He just smirked and nodded along in agreement.

Neither of them mentioned the crime–the dangerous assault on a woman–that caused the police to be called.

As a result, Cooper allowed the Olympia Police Department to appear racist, incompetent and uncaring.

Adding insult to injury, Cooper went on to explain that, as a result of the Safeway incident, the Olympia City Council quickly added a half a million dollars to the police training budget.

Cooper believed that the Safeway incident played out the way it did because of poorly trained police.  He didn’t discuss what could have happened to others in the community, if the fleeing suspects hadn’t been stopped by Officer Donald.

Cooper went on to explain that Officer Donald should have let the suspects run away.  Then he should have patiently waited for other officers to arrive on the scene, before he did anything to protect the community from the suspects’ crazed rampage.

Cooper stated that if other police officers had been there, they could have “checked each others’ behaviors, and checked each others’ biases a little more.”

So “behaviors and biases” is the new put-down phrase for police who are simply protecting innocent and vulnerable people in the community.

“Behaviors and biases” is the new term for police officers using their professional judgment to prevent more crimes from spinning out of the situation.

Like what happened to Don Tapio while he was tending his tree farm, alone.  Suddenly beaten within an inch of his life.

Like what happened to a woman who was just driving home last November, and found herself pinned in her car, upside down–miraculously still alive.

Like what happened twelve days later to Ken Rose, who was just walking along a country road.

Who is to say what would have happened if these two crazed Safeway suspects had taken off in a car?  If Officer Donald had patiently waited for someone else to come along to check his behaviors and biases, before doing anything?

What if tragedy had occurred, if Officer Donald had not pursued the suspects, as Jim Cooper would have preferred?

Would Cooper be the one to explain to a grieving family that it had been more important for Officer Donald to take the time to search his soul for inner demons, rather than stopping dangerous criminals before they hurt someone else?

Here is the first September 15, 2016 “Project Sanity” video –

In the second “Project Sanity” video, the discussion of the 2015 Safeway incident continues with a second interviewer.  Not only does Cooper continue to back up the false account of what happened that night, but he apologizes for all of America, when the interviewer said he was afraid of police racism.

Again, they both leave out the crime against the Safeway employee. The erratic behavior that preceded it.

In this video, Cooper goes all out on his views on police racism and the “police culture.”  He wants police to examine their own bias.

Cooper states,

“I’ve heard people say that police are trained for weeks and weeks on how to use their weapons and guns, but very little time on how they think, and how they interact, and how they make decisions based on their own internal bias.  
I have a lot of training on communication, and all of this comes down to communication and the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to some extent, and trying to understand where they are coming from.”  


So to summarize Jim Cooper’s viewpoint:

For the average person, like store employees or shoppers–if a criminal “of color” swings something dangerous at you, or throws a potentially deadly object at you…

You are on your own.  As it should be.  It’s a sign of progress.

Later in the video, Cooper smirks and shakes his head again at the “mentality” that people of color could pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and do things for themselves.

But what could be more racist than thinking that people of color wouldn’t be able to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, and do things for themselves?

Jim Cooper is free to believe that white people are superior to other races.  He is free to believe that we should expect more out of white people than what we expect out of other races.  He is even free to express his racist beliefs on video.

But whether Cooper should use his political power to force his own white supremacist beliefs onto the Olympia Police Department is another issue.  Especially when those beliefs could result in the injury and death of innocent people.

Jim Cooper lives in a predominantly white, safe, well-to-do neighborhood, along with many other politicians and high ranking government officials.

He lives in the kind of neighborhood that is well protected by the police.

From his safe world, Jim Cooper doesn’t appear interested in whether people in rural, low income, or minority communities might welcome a stronger police presence.  After all, people in those communities are much more likely to be victims of crime, than people in Jim’s neighborhood.

The more likely you are to be a victim of crime, the more likely you are to want the police to chase down the bad guys.

But from Jim Cooper’s pleasant neighborhood, he doesn’t seem to feel the need to show compassion and connection to those outside his sheltered world.  Those who have the greatest reason to feel afraid of criminals.

Maybe it’s not the Olympia Police who need to examine their inner bias and racism.

Maybe it’s the Olympia City Council who needs to do some soul searching.

Here is the second video –

–By Melissa Genson


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