It was “nothing short of a miracle” that no one was killed when a Pasco man opened fire on five policemen in his basement.
One bullet pierced an officer’s pants, but missed him. The other rounds struck a washing machine, the dryer, a bottle of laundry softener and a playpen.
Officer Matt Griffin testified Friday that he was thankful his wife wasn’t left a widow and his four children fatherless.
Yet, he said the man convicted of trying to kill him can still make something of his life.
“His life was spared for a reason,” Griffin said.
Edwin Espejo, 32, was sentenced Friday to 70 years in prison for trying to kill three officers who responded to a domestic violence call at his house in 2017.
Pasco officers tried and failed to calm him down but he fired seven bullets from a .45 caliber Ruger at them and the officers returned 21 shots, seriously wounding him.
Last month, a Franklin County jury convicted Espejo of three counts of first-degree attempted murder and one charge of illegal gun possession.
Nothing to lose
On Friday, the father of six was alternately contrite and argumentative during his sentencing hearing, where his family sat behind him, separated by a glass partition.
He questioned why he was being punished for defending himself and his kids inside his own home when officers came in with guns drawn.
“I’m going to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have nothing to look forward to,” he said before Judge Alex Ekstrom threatened to remove him from the courtroom if he didn’t quiet down.
He faced 62 to 78 years under state sentencing guidelines.
Two of the officers asked the judge for the maximum.
Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant recommended the middle of the range and said he won’t seek a retrial on two deadlock charges of domestic violence and assault, citing the preferences of the families involved.
Espejo attorney asked for mercy and said Espejo will appeal his convictions.
While awaiting trial for the shooting, Espejo also was convicted and sentenced to eight months for his role in an attack on a fellow inmate at the Franklin County jail.
Committed to law enforcement
Officer Griffin called it a life-changing experience, but affirmed his commitment to law enforcement.
“I will continue to choose to put on the uniform,” he told the judge.
A court official read a statement from Officer David Dillsworth, who said the basement encounter convinced him to commit to a career in law enforcement.
Dillsworth was a volunteer reserve officer when police were called to the Espejo home in September 2017.
He wrote that he was awed by the professionalism of his colleagues. Griffin tried to calm Espejo down, told him that his children needed their father and repeatedly advised him not to touch the gun.
When Espejo wouldn’t listen, they tried to shock him with a Taser but the probes did not make a good connection.
Dillsworth recalled Espejo then grabbed the gun and sprayed the tiny, dimly-lit basement.
Officers returned fire, striking Espejo six times. Officers then rushed to treat him, placing tourniquets that medical officials later said saved his life.
They checked for their own injuries after Espejo had been taken care of, he said.
“We tried. We tried to calm him down. We tried to work with him,” Dillsworth said in his statement. “I could have died.”
Dillsworth was recently hired as a full-time police officer in Pasco. He couldn’t attend the hearing because he is in training at the police academy.