Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Central Basin Investigation Team, representing law enforcement agencies, gives update on shooting

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This is an update to the officer-involved shooting that took place in Chelan County on March 28. The investigation is continuing into the officer-involved shooting incident that took place in the 16000 block of the Chumstick Highway on March 28. The incident involved the arrest of Abel Wilkes for 2nd Degree Assault by members of the East Cascades SWAT Team. This team is made up of law enforcement officers from the Chelan County and Douglas County Sheriff's Offices, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Wenatchee Police Department, and the East Wenatchee Police Department. There was no injury to Wilkes, nor any of the officers on scene during the incident. 

To ensure an independent investigation, the incident is being investigated by the Central Basin Investigation Team, which consists of detectives from Grant, Adams and Kittitas Counties. To ensure transparency, there are two non-law enforcement community representatives from the Chelan County area assigned to the team who are observing the investigation and have access to all investigative records generated and information gathered. Both representatives were able to visit the incident scene last Wednesday April 5. They were briefed on the progress of the investigation and will be kept abreast of all developments moving forward. The investigation is being conducted in accordance with WAC 139-12-030. 

The officer that fired at Wilkes during the standoff has been identified as Sergeant Cory Bernaiche, with the Wenatchee Police Department. Bernaiche has been with the Wenatchee Police Department since 2014 and has been a member of the SWAT Team since 2016. Prior to his career in law enforcement, Bernaiche served on active duty with the United States Army and served in the Army Reserve. He remains on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in these cases, while the investigation continues. 

Detectives are making arrangements to collect statements from the officers that were on scene at the time of the shooting, in accordance with labor agreements, department policies and state law.

During the standoff with Wilkes, which lasted until early morning on Wednesday, March 29, the trailer in which he lived was significantly damaged. Part of this was incidental to armored vehicles moving around the property to provide cover for officers and some of it was a deliberate tactic as part of the effort to get Wilkes to surrender. More information on this is expected to be gathered as the investigation progresses. Barring new developments in the investigation, it is expected that CBIT will begin weekly press release updates as required by law. The next weekly release is scheduled for Thursday April 13.

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