Forensic Evidence Links Slain Man to January Robbery-Assault Incident
One of the suspects in a January 15th robbery-assault-captive situation near Richland was fatally shot during an altercation with Kennewick Police in February, but forensic evidence this week concluded he was the male suspect in the January 15th incident.
On that day a man and woman, identified as Gordon L. Whitaker and Stevie L. Trott broke into an adult woman's apartment in the 1800 block of Leslie Road. The woman had opened the door, thinking it was a friend. Upon entering Whitaker bound the victim's hands with a zip tie and put duct tape over her mouth. He also, according to police reports, reportedly held a gun to her head. Trott assaulted the woman several times, inflicting minor injuries.
The woman's 7-year-old daughter was in another room, and was able to call relatives for help on a cellphone, she apparently was undetected and not hurt. The victim was robbed of a large amount of cash before the suspects left. Trott was arrested the next day and charged with a number of felonies, then January 22nd the victim identified Whitaker as the other suspect. Richland Police began searching for him.
Then on February 9th Whitaker and another man were spotted around 11:45PM by Kennewick Police near Fruitland and Columbia Park Trail as they were conducting emphasis patrols. When they tried to contact them to ID them, Whitaker ran. He turned and displayed what police said appeared to be a gun. He was fatally shot by officers. It is not conclusively known if he was armed, but a weapon was later found nearby at the scene during the investigation.
This week, an online petition began by friends and relatives of the 45-year-old man, claiming he was "held down" by officers while another one shot him. The petition was demanding "Justice for Gordon," and sought the firing and prosecution of the four officers involved.
The State Crime lab released the forensic evidence information to Richland Police earlier this week, showing that Whitaker was the male suspect in the January incident. It is possible he ran from officers in Kennewick because had they ID'd him they would have learned Richland Police were looking for him in connection with the January incident.
Whitaker had a lengthy criminal history, with 37 arrests. The four felonies on his record were from a number of years ago, most of the recent ones had been for failure to pay fines and costs etc. until the January incident near Richland.