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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for January 2013

Coeur d’Alene Police release SpongeBob robbery footage

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The Coeur d'Alene Police Department has released the surveilance footage of a robber wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants mask Wednesday evening at Lean Bean Espresso, 1207 Sherman Ave.

Police said the robbery left with an undisclosed amount of cash in the hold-up and there were no injuries reported.

A man with a gun ordered two employees of the coffee stand to hand over cash and fled on foot along 13th Street.

The robber is described as 5-foot-8 with a medium build and weighing about 180 pounds. In addition to the mask, he wore a black hoodie pulled over his head and dark baggie jeans, according to police.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Coeur d'Alene police at (208) 769-2320.

Police probe how missile launcher got to gun buy-back

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle police are tracking down the history of a nonfunctional missile launcher that showed up at a weapons buyback program.

Detective Mark Jamieson says a man standing outside the event on Saturday bought the military weapon for $100 from another person there. The single-use device had already been used. It's a launch tube assembly for a Stinger portable surface-to-air missile.

He says detectives will notify the Army Criminal Investigation Command on Monday.

Jamieson says the launcher is a controlled military item and that's not available to civilians through any surplus or disposal program offered by the government. He says it's most likely that the launch tube was previously obtained unlawfully from the military, and would likely be returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Suspected Naked burglar arraigned Thursday

Gonzaga University urged the community to show their Bulldog pride today by wearing their favorite GU gear.

And even the alleged Naked Burglar appears to have taken them up on it.

Trevor Lee Franklin, suspected of breaking into a Browne's Addition apartment Jan. 8 and trashing the place while stripping naked, showed up for his arraignment today in Spokane County Superior Court decked out in a Gonzaga hoodie.

The fully clothed Franklin pleaded “not guilty” to charges of residential burglary and the judge set his trial date for April 15, with a pretrial hearing on April 5.

Franklin, a registered sex offender, was arrested outside the trashed apartment after the tenant called police to report a naked man had broken into his home and tried to hug him when he and his girlfriend discovered him. Franklin reportedly was in possession of items that had been taken from the apartment when officers arrested him.

Good grief

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Authorities in California say the voice actor who portrayed Charlie Brown in many “Peanuts” shows was arrested on charges that include stalking.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Angelica de Cima said Peter Robbins was arrested Sunday at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. She told U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/USUNac) that a background check yielded a warrant against Robbins from the San Diego County sheriff's department.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said she did not have details about the warrant.

The 56-year-old is set to be arraigned Wednesday on counts of making a threat to cause death or great bodily injury and of stalking. His manager has declined to comment.

Robbins was the voice of Charlie Brown for TV specials, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Inmates claim private prison falsifies staffing levels

BOISE (AP) — Attorneys for inmates at Idaho's largest private prison say Corrections Corporation of America is falsifying staff logs to hide chronic understaffing.

The allegation was raised Friday in an amended lawsuit filed in Boise's U.S. District Court.

Attorneys for the Nashville, Tenn.-based CCA have not yet responded to the amended lawsuit in court, and CCA spokesman Steve Owen said he couldn't discuss details of the litigation.

But Owen said the company's top priority was the safety of its staff, inmates and the communities it serves, and CCA is committed to providing Idaho's taxpayers with the highest quality corrections services.

“We have worked in close partnership with the Idaho Department of Corrections for more than a decade and in a reflection of the strength of that partnership, the state announced in July that it would expand its contract with our company to house up to 800 additional inmates,” Owen wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke and the department's deputy chief of the contract services bureau, Pat Donaldson, both said they've seen no evidence of falsified staff reports. IDOC's contract monitors routinely review the staffing logs and overtime reports supplied by CCA and so far they've found nothing amiss, Donaldson said. A few months ago the department's contract monitors also began randomly checking to see if the security staffers at the Idaho Correctional Center matched those listed on the shift logs, and no discrepancies have been found, Donaldson said.

CCA runs the prison south of Boise under a contract with the state and that contract sets the minimum staffing requirements at the facility. In 2011, CCA agreed to increase the number of correctional officers working at the prison as part of a settlement agreement that ended another federal lawsuit alleging understaffing and rampant violence at the facility.

(Read the rest of this story by clicking to see the full post)

North Dakota citizens awarded for locating Mitchell Walck

When North Dakota authorities apprehended Idaho fugitive, Mitchell Walck, they had some help from two citizens.

Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department awarded Marlin Brandt and Brock Garaas the golden citizen award Thursday for their help, according to the Bismarck Tribune.

Authorities captured Walck in a mobile home park after he hid in a man’s truck at the Oasis Truck Stop. He threatened the driver with a handgun, but fled on foot.

Brandt and Garaas gave a deputy a ride to Walck’s hiding place under a pine tree, reports said.

Walck is accused of shooting at Idaho State Police officers in early December. While hiding, he reportedly kidnapped a Rathdrum woman, took her car and fled on a multi-state road trip with the victim who said he was trying to make his case go federal.

Walck returns to Burleigh County Superior Court on Jan. 28 for his arraignment. He’s being held at Burleigh County Detention Center without a bond.

Related stories: Authorities apprehend fugitive suspected in kidnapping & Court docs detail kidnapping

The number of centenarian drivers might surprise you

Wondering why that motorist in the lane beside you looks so old?

Could be because they are.

New state figures show there's 110 licensed drivers in Washington who, as of Jan. 10, are at least 100 years old. They are among the 2,394 state residents 95 and older who are still licensed drivers.

SR reporter Chelsea Bannach stumbled onto the figures today while working on an upcoming article about organ donors. As part of the reporting for that article, she had requested figures from the state Department of Licensing about the number of motorists who list organ donor on their drivers licenses.

The agency sent a list showing the statewide numbers by age and gender. And the columns kept going and going and going. The list stopped at drivers who are 100 years old.

By the way, most motorists in their 90s are not organ donors, according to the state figures, a pattern that holds for both men and women. Move up a couple decades, however, and the number of licensed drivers in their 70s who are organ donors easily outnumbers those who aren't.

Look for Bannach's article this weekend.

Off-duty cops told to disarm before heading to stadium

SEATTLE (AP) — Century Link field is telling off-duty police officers attending Seahawks games and other events at the Seattle stadium to leave their guns at home.

The management says Century Link Field is safe because of an abundance of uniformed officers at events.

KOMO TV, however, reports (http://bit.ly/13H19yc ) the new policy isn't sitting well with officers.

Police say many officers work in units that require them to be armed at all times.

Police dog Brax tracks burglary suspect a mile

An unauthorized driver of a utility van containing large amounts of copper was arrested Wednesday thanks to a police tracking dog, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

A Spokane Valley deputy noticed a Power City Electric van pull into Sullivan Park at 2:15 a.m. and park next to another vehicle, a Sheriff’s Office news release said.

When the officer approached the van, the driver left the van and ran eastbound across Sullivan Road. Police dog Brax tracked the man, who was found almost a mile away hiding under a pile of brush in the Sullivan Business Park.

Deputies said James Mulvaney, 48, was the driver of the van. Officers looked inside the van and could see large spools of copper, the release said.

Supervisors at Power City Electric said Mulvaney is not an employee.

Mulvaney was booked into Spokane County Jail on a felony charge of second-degree burglary.

Idaho man indicted in mother’s slaying

A federal grand jury indicted an Idaho man for first-degree murder Tuesday.

The indictment alleges that Kenneth D. Broncheau, 48, of Winchester, shot and killed his mother, Carol Haskell, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation on June 21, 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Broncheau was detained at the scene. He is currently in the custody of Nez Perce Tribal Police awaiting trial.

The charge of first degree murder is punishable by life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nez Perce Tribal Police, Idaho State Police, and the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Charges filed when gun misfires at store

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A man whose gun went off when he dropped it inside a store at the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale now faces criminal charges.

The Kitsap County Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday filed one count of aiming or discharging a firearm and one count of reckless endangerment against 58-year-old Marc R. Bromberg.

Deputies say Bromberg was inside the Cost Plus World Market on Jan. 5 when he bent over and the .38 Special fell out of his coat pocket and discharged. The bullet didn't hit anyone, but did damage a day bed before striking a set of nesting rope-baskets.

A couple of shoppers asked what the noise was, and told police that Bromberg claimed it was a balloon popping.

The store was evacuated. Cost Plus supervisor Vicki Dudley told deputies that the day bed had to be marked down because of the damage, and the nesting baskets were a total loss.

It wasn't immediately clear if Bromberg had a lawyer. His arraignment was set for Feb. 11.

Murder solved in Colville coffee shop

Stevens County Prosecutors filed charging documents Tuesday detailing the allegations against woman charged last week with killing a man believed to be her half-brother in Colville.

Deena L. Bailey, 49, remains held on a $1 million bond after she was arrested last Thursday on the charge of second-degree murder in connection with the apparent beating death of 56-year-old David S. Barr.

Two witnesses said they saw Bailey, who had hitched a ride from Plummer, Idaho, a few days before, beating on David Barr during a night of heavy drinking on Jan. 9. One witnesses said he saw Bailey swinging at Barr with a bag containing tools.

That same witness returned to the apartment later that night to check on David Barr, who refused medical attention his head wounds. However, Colville Police were summoned Thursday morning to the apartment on West 2nd Street by the victim’s brother, Robert Barr.

Inside, an officer found David Barr dead in the sitting position on his couch.

Bailey, who was discovered Thursday sleeping on the couch of a local coffee shop, agreed to answer questions but claimed she had no idea that David Barr had died. She accused David and Robert Barr of sexually harassing during the night of drinking, according to court records.

Bailey, who is also described as a cousin in charging documents, is scheduled to appear on Jan. 29 for an arraignment, Deputy Prosecutor Matt Enzler said.

Read one of the best police reports ever written here.

Batiste to remain at helm of WSP

Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste will keep his badge over the objections of troopers.

Gov.-elect Jay Inslee said today he will re-appoint Batiste today, citing the chief's extensive law enforcement experience and record of results at the helm of the 2,400 person agency.

“Chief Batiste has demonstrated the kind of results-oriented leadership that I believe every agency in the state needs,” Inslee said in prepared remarks. “He has had a distinguished career in law enforcement and I know he will continue to improve an already outstanding agency.”

Earlier this month, the labor union representing state troopers urged Inslee to replace Batiste.

Also today, Inslee said he will keep Corrections Secretary Bernard Warner in charge of the state's prions.

Honking motorist arrested in Aberdeen

ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — Aberdeen police arrested a man in their own parking lot this week when he drove up and repeatedly honked his horn.

He told police he wanted them to bring out a jail inmate so he could talk with him.

KXRO reports (http://bit.ly/VLJ8t1) the driver refused to identify himself, although he did say he was armed with a knife.

Instead of bringing the inmate out, police arrested the driver for obstructing an officer and put him in jail too.

2 Bellevue cops demoted for affair

BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo has demoted two top commanders for having an extramarital affair.

The relationship investigated by the Washington State Patrol violated the department's code of conduct because Maj. John Manning supervised Capt. Autumn Fowler.

KING reports both have been demoted to the rank of lieutenant.

Union urges Inslee to replace WSP chief

OLYMPIA (AP) — The union for Washington State Patrol troopers and sergeants wants Gov.-elect Jay Inslee to replace Chief John Batiste.

Washington State Patrol Troopers Association President Tommie Pillow told The Olympian the chief is out of touch.

A spokesman for Batiste says he's not talking about his future plans at this point. And, a spokesman for Inslee says he's still considering suggestions for cabinet positions.

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Batiste in 2005. The patrol has more than 2,400 employees and the union represents about 1,000.

Pillow already has a replacement in mind for the chief's job. The union likes Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar, who has recruited 10 troopers to work for the city. Farrar says he's interested but has not been contacted by Inslee's transition team.

219 DUI arrests over holiday season

A holiday season crackdown on drunken driving led to 219 arrests across Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties.

That’s up from 197 arrests during the same period a year earlier, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. The increase is attributed to the first-ever “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement effort from Nov. 21 to Jan. 1 targeting drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Statewide, 3,446 motorists were arrested during the crackdown.

Participating in the Eastern Washington crackdown were the following law enforcement agencies: Cheney, Airway Heights, Eastern Washington University, Republic, Spokane and Spokane Valley police departments; the Spokane, Pend Oreille and Ferry County sheriff’s offices; and the Washington State Patrol, with the support of the Spokane County Target Zero Task Force.

The extra patrols were funded by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Fired Lakewood officer fighting termination

LAKEWOOD — A fired Lakewood police officer says he'll fight his termination.

Brian Wurts, who was president of the Lakewood Police Independent Guild when the union's treasurer stole charitable donations made to the families of four slain police officers, told The News Tribune he was fired with no evidence of wrongdoing.

The police department issued a statement Wednesday saying only that  Wurts was terminated Dec. 28 for misconduct.

Wurts was president of the union at the time Officer Skeeter Timothy Manos was treasurer. Manos pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud in the theft of charitable donations made to the families of four slain Lakewood officers.

Wurts says he had nothing to do with the theft.

One of the officers killed in the 2009 ambush-style slaying was Tina Griswold, whose sister Tiffiny Ryan works in the Spokane Police Department's records division.

Man arrested for eluding Spokane Valley Police again

A man led authorities on a high speed chase through Spokane Valley early Wednesday morning and allegedly rammed a Spokane Valley deputy’s patrol vehicle car head-on, according to a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Deputies spotted the vehicle, driven by Jordy DeBoer, 21, and reported as stolen last week, the news release said.

Deputy Juan Rodriguez followed him until additional police units were in the area. He attempted to pull him over, but DeBoer allegedly sped away reaching speeds up to 80 mph. Near the area of Pines Road and Broadway Avenue, Deputy Rodriguez intercepted the car with a PIT maneuver and then DeBoer crashed into another deputy’s patrol car where it was waiting to block any escape route.

Deputies arrested DeBoer without any further incident for charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of meth and eluding police. DeBoer is now in custody at Spokane County Jail with a $50,000 bond established by Judge James M. Triplet.

“Attempting to elude, in my mind, is a fairly serious offense for law enforcement and for people – on the sides of the street and road,” Triplett said in court Wednesday.

The news release did not report severe injuries for Deputy Seth Berrow after he was hit by DeBoer's allegedly stolen vehicle, but he only noted soreness following the incident.

This is the second pursuit DeBoer has been accused of in the past year for Spokane Valley. Spokane County Superior Courts sentenced him to three months in jail for speeding away from police and possession of stolen property during a June 2011 incident.

Deputies also arrested the passenger, identified as Gary G. Walker, 19, on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant.

Report: SPD lacks certified instructors

None of the Spokane Police Department's defensive tactics instructors are certified by the state and may have relied on a flawed legal interpretation while teaching officers when it's OK to use deadly force, the city's Use of Force Commission has found.

“In fact, no officers in the department have received instructor re-certification since 2007,” the group, empaneled by Mayor David Condon, wrote in its 177-page draft report.

The commission was formed to review the police department's operations following widespread public outcry over the city's handling of the fatal 2006 confrontation with Otto Zehm, who was wrongly implicated in a potential theft and then beaten by officers until he lost consciousness and died two days later. Former SPD Officer Karl Thompson Jr. was ordered last year to serve a little over four years in prison after being convicted of excessive use of force and lying to investigators.

Spokane City Hall is hoping residents will review the report and send their thoughts and comments on its findings. A copy of the report, along with a link for where you can comment, can be found here: http://www.spokanecity.org/services/articles/?ArticleID=2927. The city is accepting public comments through Jan. 30.

The commission made 26 recommendations for improving the police department, which Condon and new Police Chief Frank Straub are reviewing and promise to embrace. The draft report was unveiled Dec. 20.

Among them is the need to ensure that officers are being properly advised in when deadly force is authorized, and that they're being trained in how to de-escalate potentially violent confrontations.

Questions over potentially flawed deadly force training emerged after the commission was given copies of the department's training manuals that advised officers they were free to use deadly force whenever they believed their life or the lives of others is in danger.

That subjective standard has no basis in state or federal law, the commission — whose members include lawyers and a retired state Supreme Court justice — concluded. The proper legal standard is objective rather than subjective, requiring evidence supporting the officer's conclusions.

“In weighing the government's interest in the use of force, courts will examine, among other relevant factors, whether the subject posed an immediate threat to officer or public safety, the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect was actively resisting arrest or attempting to escape, and whether law enforcement could have used other methods to accomplish its purpose,” the report notes. “The Commission is concerned that these legal rules are not as well understood across the SPD as they need to be.”

Gun owner facing charges after losing pistol in theater

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man has been arraigned on one charge of recklessly endangering another person after leaving a loaded gun at a Tillamook movie theater.

The Oregonian newspaper reports 61-year-old Gary Warren Quackenbush appeared in Tillamook County Circuit Court on Monday to hear the misdemeanor charge. He then asked for a court-appointed attorney, which Judge Jonathan Hill denied after determining that Quackenbush didn't qualify for one.

Quackenbush went to a screening of “The Hobbit” at the Coliseum Theatre with his wife and a 1941 model Beretta. The gun slipped out of his holster.

Two seventh-graders on a school field trip on Dec. 19 discovered the gun when one of them pushed the seat down and it fell out. The boys told a teacher, who called police.

Police took the pistol as evidence, and revoked Quackenbush's concealed handgun permit.

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