Aaron Thompson, a detective with Washington’s King County Sheriff’s Office, says he and his parents were helping check in guests at a hotel for his brother’s memorial service when a staff member approached them and said how upset she was.
It turned out that, when that woman’s brother had died, Aaron’s sibling Ryan -- a deputy sheriff with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office – was the one who showed up at her home to deliver the death notification.
“She told us Ryan spent a couple of hours consoling her mother,” Aaron said, discussing just one example of the compassion and character Ryan demonstrated as a police officer.
On March 19, Ryan Thompson, 42, was gunned down after he and a colleague responded to a driving complaint and attempted to stop a vehicle.
After his death – which was the first fatal shooting of a law enforcement officer in the rural county in 92 years -- it emerged that the suspect had managed to live in Washington State past the expiration date of his temporary worker visa.
“I still feel strongly that I don’t understand why our state government and our local government continue to try to thwart the immigration laws,” Thompson told Fox News, in reference to Washington’s sanctuary protections for illegal immigrants.
Ryan Thompson came from a family with a law enforcement background. His father and uncle, Aaron said, served as police officers in Walla Walla and Franklin County, respectively.
At one point in his career, Thompson served as a police officer at Central Washington University -- his alma mater. During another stop, he worked as a corrections officer with the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office.
All throughout his 12-year career in law enforcement, Aaron said, his brother developed a reputation for being someone who “cared about people” and was easy to approach.
“People liked to talk to him because he was good guy,” Aaron Thompson said. “There were a lot of times he had come across people that had been in jail… while he was working the road, and he treated them with respect and kindness. They were always happy to talk to him, even if they were in trouble, he was the kind of guy everyone wanted to talk to."
Off the job, Ryan had a passion for the outdoors, taking up activities such as hiking, fly-fishing and gardening. He also liked cooking – particularly grilling for his friends and family.
“He had the biggest Weber barbecue grill I have ever seen,” Aaron said.
And every year when winter would roll around, Ryan ventured into the woods with his wife and three children to cut down the family’s Christmas tree.
“He is just a fun-loving guy, always had a smile on his face,” said Kittitas County Deputy Ben Corbett, who knew Thompson for more than a decade.
Ryan is survived by his wife, children, three brothers, parents and, in the words of his obituary, “far too many friends to count.”