Late Kittitas County deputy & responding officers receive WA medal of honor

Kittitas Co. Deputy Ryan Thompson
Deputy Ryan Thompson

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Three Kittitas County law enforcement officers, including the late Deputy Ryan Thompson, were honored with the Washington State Medal of Honor at the state Capitol building on Friday for their heroic response to a March 2019 road rage shooting incident.

Deputy Thompson was honored along with Corporal Jason Goeman and Deputy Benito Chavez of the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Department. They joined 11 other law enforcement officers who were recognized during the ceremony.

The Medal of Honor was accepted on the behalf of Deputy Thompson by his father and brother—Terry and Brandon Thompson. Corporal Goeman and Deputy Chavez, who attended the in-person, were joined by their wives.

“We remember Ryan every single day, and we know we are fortunate to have deputies like Jason and Benito,” Kittitas Co. Sheriff Clayton Myers said. “We’re glad to see Washington State recognize what we already know; that these are courageous public servants who assume terrible risks to do what is necessary to protect our community.”

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On March 19, 2019, Deputy Thompson responded to a road rage incident south of Kittitas near Ellensburg, He pursued the suspect, who fled in a vehicle and drove into a dead-end at a trailer park.

The driver immediately hopped out of his vehicle and began firing gunshots at the responding law enforcement. Deputy Thompson was struck in the shoulder and Officer Chavez’s femur was shattered by one of the gunshots. Corporal Goeman returned fire and struck the suspect, ending the gunfight.

However, Deputy Thompson died from injuries he suffered in that incident and Officer Chavez underwent months of surgeries and rehabilitation before returning to duty. It was a tragic incident that sent shockwaves through communities across Kittitas County and the state of Washington as a whole.

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The event was held on Friday, October 8 at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial. The Medal of Honor is awarded to law enforcement agents who lost their lives protecting their community in the line of duty. Additionally, law enforcement officers who distinguish themselves with honorable conduct are eligible to receive the medal of honor.

This year’s event honored individuals who set themselves apart in both 2019 and 2020. Pandemic restrictions forced last year’s in-person ceremony to be postponed.

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