The man suspected of shooting and killing a Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputy died from multiple gunshot wounds, according to an autopsy the Cowlitz County Coroner’s Office released Wednesday.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Clark County medical examiner announced that deputy Justin DeRosier died from a gunshot wound to the chest and ruled his death a homicide.
Brian Dee Butts, 33, is said by police to have shot and killed DeRosier after the deputy responded to a vehicle blocking call late Saturday night in Kalama. Butts in turn died in an officer-involved shooting Sunday evening after a 22-hour manhunt that ended when he was seen tromping out of the woods wet and dirty on Spencer Creek Road.
For the first time Tuesday night, police indicated that Butts fired at the two Kelso police officers when they encountered him. At the Kelso City Council meeting, Kelso Police Chief Andrew Hamilton said the two Kelso officers, Rich Fletcher and Detective Tim Gower, encountered Butts around 7 p.m. Sunday. Butts was carrying a firearm, and the two officers “returned fire,” killing him, Hamilton said. The officers were not injured.
Hamilton confirmed his statements after the council meeting, but he declined to elaborate because the officers have not been interviewed by investigators.
Both officers have worked for the Kelso Police Department for 24 years and have been put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings.
Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman said Butts was armed with a handgun in he engaged with Kelso officers, though he did not know the model of the weapon.
Matthew Veatch, a Kalama resident accused with helping Butts flee from the scene of the DeRosier shooting, has told police Butts gave him a handgun, according to court documents. It was not clear whether Butts had a second handgun, somehow reclaimed it from Veatch or never gave it to Veatch in the first place.
The coroner’s office ruled Butts’ manner of death a homicide, which is only a medical finding and does not establish criminal intent. It in no way incriminates the officers involved in shooting him.
Butts was declared dead at the scene, according to Cowlitz County Sheriff Brad Thurman. Further details from the shooting have not yet been released.
The coroner’s and medical examiner’s offices declined to provide any other description of Butts’ or DeRosier’s injuries.
In a public Facebook post, Butts’ ex-girlfriend Sara Elliott wrote that after the “cold blood murder,” she wants the public to understand that the families of both DeRosier and Butts are grieving.
“No mother ever raises their children to intentionally become addicts and to intentionally kill people especially cops ... Neither man’s child will have a father. Neither man’s mother will ever hug their son. Neither man’s wives will have their husbands home,” she wrote.
“I stand with law enforcement and I am praying for the hearts everywhere,” she continued. “However I am also able to see past the b———- and see the man for who he was. I love the person but hate the sin.”
Attempts to reach her for an interview were unsuccessful.