Walla Walla dog park shooting won't draw charges

The prosecutor says he couldn't prove it wasn't self defense.

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WALLA WALLA -- A man involved in a shooting at Fort Walla Walla Park last month will not face criminal charges.

Walla Walla County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Nagle said today he is declining to file assault charges against Tyler B. Larson, 22, of College Place, "because the prosecution would be unable to prove the absence of self defense beyond a reasonable doubt."

According to Walla Walla Police, Larson shot Terry E. Bickford, 59, Walla Walla, in the right thigh with a handgun on the evening of Oct. 16 after the two men left the dog park.

Nagle said Larson and witnesses clearly indicated Bickford had been acting aggressively toward a woman in the dog park and then acted aggressively toward Larson. Police said in October that witnesses said Bickford was threatening physical harm to others, including Larson.

"Despite some minor inconsistent statements, (Larson) could easily establish a defense of self-defense and defense of others and would have no trouble creating a reasonable doubt in the jury's mind," Nagle wrote in a letter to the officer investigating the case.

Nagle also noted that "not only is the state required to prove the absence of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, the state (or municipality) is required to pay all of the defendant's costs, including reasonable attorney fees and time loss, if the jury finds the defendant acted in self-defense."

Larson, who has a permit to carry a concealed weapon, was interviewed by police after the shooting but not arrested. Bickford was taken to Providence St. Mary Medical Center for treatment of his wound. Further information on his condition was not available.

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