The name of a Cowlitz County sheriff’s deputy killed in April will be engraved on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C., joining the names of more than 20,000 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout American history.
Justin DeRosier, 29, was shot April 13 while investigating reports of a motor home blocking a road in Kalama. He died the following morning, marking the first line-of-duty death in Cowlitz County in 70 years.
The Law Enforcement Memorial, opened in 1991, sits just a few blocks north of the National Mall, flanked by the National Building Museum.
DeRosier joins three other lawmen in The Daily News circulation area who have died in the line of duty. They are Kelso police officer Frank Konen and Rainier Police Chief Ralph Painter.
Konen was shot and killed at the age of 33 in March 1948 by Oscar Rogers, an intoxicated man who had just torn apart a hotel room.
Konen and two other officers were attempting to arrest Rogers that night, according to TDN records. Konen told his fellow officers to go back to the station, and that he would stick around to make sure things quieted down.
But Rogers was able to grab Konen’s revolver and shoot him in the arm and lower chest. Even with the injuries that would quickly claim his life, Konen was able to pin his killer long enough for the other officers to run back and help handcuff the man. Konen, who left a wife and 18-month-old son, was awarded the Washington State Law Enforcement Medal of Honor in 1998.
Painter was shot and killed while responding to a car theft at Rainier Sound Authority in January 2011.
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Police said Painter struggled briefly with Daniel Butts, who muscled away the chief’s handgun and used it to fatally shoot Painter. Eight years of courtroom battles over Butts’ psychological health ensued, until he reversed his plea to guilty in March and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 48 years and nine months. He will be nearly 70 at his earliest opportunity for release.
Brian Butts, the man believed by authorities to be DeRosier’s killer, is the half-brother of Daniel Butts. Brian Butts was shot and killed in a shootout with two Kelso officers who confronted him during the manhunt for DeRosier’s killer, according to investigators.
Kalama police Chief Randy Gibson died in January 2017 after a long battle with cancer at the age of 59. He died after going into respiratory distress that was brought on by a high-stress arrest. Gibson drove himself to the hospital and was later discharged to his home at his own request, where died later in the day.
The memorial is a part of the National Law Enforcement Museum, which maintains an online database of information on the officers featured at its memorial. This can be found at: https://nleomf.org/memorial.
Also engraved is the name of Vernonia, Ore., Police Chief Raymond Garcia, who was shot and killed at the age of 26 in October 1971 while making a traffic stop near the police station. The driver opened fire with a .22 caliber pistol, prompting Garcia to return fire. Both men died from the shootout. Eugene Bolstad, a Washington State patrolman, is also engraved; He died at the age of 29 in September 1957 while trying to rescue a teenage boy being washed out to the sea at Longbeach. Both were caught in an undertow.
James Saunders, a Washington State Patrol trooper, was shot and killed in October 1999 in Pasco during a routine traffic stop at the age of 31. His mother and maternal grandparents came from Longview, and Jimmer Place off 34th Avenue is named for him. His name also appears on the memorial.
According to the memorial, 43 U.S. officers have died in the line of duty so far this year. Roughly half of those deaths are firearms-related. Kittitas County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Thompson is the other Washington State lawman who died in the line of duty this year. He was shot and killed in March by a road rage suspect who also injured another officer during the shooting.
This article has been updated to include the death of Kalama police Chief Randy Gibson.