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Sirens & Gavels

Archive for October 2013

ISP dash cam shows officers warning motorist to drop gun before firing

As Spokane-area law enforcement agencies debate the use of video cameras to document the actions of officers and suspects, newly released footage from a state police shooting in North Idaho shows how video evidence can leave little doubt about what leads up to a deadly confrontation.

The video released Tuesday shows how an interview with a motorist found sleeping in his car along Interstate 90 last June quickly led to the man being fatally shot in the passenger seat as he and an Idaho State Police trooper struggled over a pistol.

Trooper Todd McDevitt warned Alexander L. Mandarino not to touch the handgun in the glove compartment and to get out of the car, which was parked on the side of the freeway near Lookout Pass at the Idaho-Montana state line.

“If you make any attempt to go towards that pistol it’ll be the last thing you ever do,” McDevitt can be heard saying.

But Mandarino, 26, a Whitefish, Mont., resident, ignored McDevitt and grabbed his Walther 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

For several tense seconds the two struggled over the gun, while a Shoshone County Sheriff’s deputy stood nearby, his own gun drawn. McDevitt repeatedly ordered Mandarino to let go of the pistol. Then the trooper took out his own handgun and placed the muzzle on Mandarino’s chest. When Mandarino refused to release his gun, McDevitt fired one fatal shot at point-blank range.

Mandarino can be heard exclaiming “Ow!” before collapsing. McDevitt removed the wounded man from the car and placed him on the ground. He and Deputy Adam Durflinger quickly administered first aid and performed CPR on Mandarino until medics arrived. Mandarino was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Keisha Oxendine concluded last week that the shooting was justified because Mandarino “posed an immediate and continuing danger to the officers on scene” and posed “a viable threat of deadly force.”

A toxicology report showed Mandarino had THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in his system at the time of the confrontation.

The police vehicle video footage and a redacted copy of the executive summary of the investigation of the shooting, conducted by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, were released Tuesday through a public records request initiated by The Spokesman-Review.

Trial delayed for boat owner in Kettle River Campground shooting

Michael Sublie will not be back in a federal courtroom until January to face charges of obstructing a federal law officer and violating National Park Service noise restrictions during an incident in September when a ranger fired and struck a partygoer on Sublie's boat.

Citing the ongoing investigation by multiple agencies into the shooting, both the government and Sublie requested a continuance for a hearing scheduled Tuesday afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Rodgers approved a delay of the hearing until January, with an expected trial date now scheduled for February.

Sublie pleaded not guilty to all charges shortly after the Sept. 14 confrontation, the details of which remain under wraps by the Washington State Patrol and Investigative Services Branch of the National Park Service, who are both looking into the incident. A Spokesman-Review request for investigative materials was denied via email earlier this month by the WSP because of the ongoing investigation.

Sworn statements filed in court said Sublie became verbally confrontational when two rangers attempted to board his boat investigating excess noise. The standoff turned physical, and Sublie shoved one of the rangers off the gangplank, according to court documents.

Friends and family of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man who was struck in the ribs by a bullet fired by a ranger, say the incident occurred following an end-of-the-summer party held by local law enforcement and emergency services personnel. A rally was held supporting Sublie and Hartinger outside the Stevens County Courthouse last month.

The Park Service and WSP continue to withhold the names of the two officers involved in the shooting incident. Supporters of Sublie and Hartinger have identified the rangers as Josh Wentz and Matt Phillipson.

‘Archangel of Death’ stalking suspect has week to plead insanity

A federal judge has given a Spokane man found with modified weapons and a journal proclaiming himself the embodiment of God's wrath one week to decide if he'll seek an insanity defense.

An order signed by U.S. District Judge for Eastern Washington Thomas Rice grants Brent Russ, 33, until Oct. 31 to decide if he plans to plead insanity after a grand jury indicted him on a federal stalking charge. Russ is accused of sending threatening communications through U.S. mail to a former neighbor, who is also a tribal police officer.

When FBI agents arrived at Russ' southwest Spokane home last month, they also found a modified handgun, shotgun and rifle designed to inflict greater harm to targets. A search of Russ' home also revealed a lengthy journal, now under court seal, in which Russ identifies himself as Azrael, the Archangel of Death, and states his willingness to die in battle against the forces of evil.

Rice ordered the timetable in an effort to speed the proceedings. Russ has remained in custody of federal authorities since his arrest Sept. 26. Rice described the evidence provided by the federal government illustrating Russ' erratic behavior prior to his arrest as a “strong showing” in documents filed Thursday.

Defendant in nightclub shooting death seeks dismissal

One of the men accused of murder in the shooting death of Julian Morrison, 26, outside a Spokane music venue in September says prosecutors don't have enough evidence to try him.

Carlos Fuentes, 25, filed a motion through his attorney last week asking a judge to throw out the first-degree murder and 12 drive-by shooting charges that have kept him in jail since Sept. 12. Three days earlier, investigators say Fuentes acted with Kalen Bedford, 23, in an altercation outside The Hop! at 706 N. Monroe St. that left Morrison dead of multiple gunshot wounds.

Spokane Police have said the shooting was likely gang-related. An unnamed witness in court documents said they saw Fuentes bump into Morrison inside the venue, where most visitors anticipated an appearance from a popular rap artist who didn't show. The two exchanged statements of their gang affiliations, according to the witness. Several minutes later Morrison, Fuentes and Bedford stood in a rear parking lot where Bedford opened fire on Morrison multiple times, according to witness statements.

Fuentes' defense attorney, Robert Cossey, argues in a motion to dismiss the entirety of the evidence against his client is “hearsay from unidentified individuals.” Additionally, he said, the witnesses provided no statements that directly linked Fuentes to the slaying or multiple gunshots fired from a vehicle he and Bedford allegedly left the club in after the shooting.

A hearing in the matter is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 7. Fuentes and Bedford remain in jail on the charges.

Drug dealer caught peddling 99.9% pure meth is headed to prison

A Spokane man was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for selling high-quality methamphetamine to an undercover officer and leading police on a car chase near the Coeur d’Alene Casino last January.

Charles Edward Gibson, 43, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’AleneÖÖ for conspiracy to distribute at least 50 grams of meth between Dec. 4, 2012, and Jan. 8. U.S. District Judge Rosanna Malouf Petersen of the Eastern District of WashingtonÖÖ also ordered Gibson to spend 10 years on supervised release after he’s out of jail and forfeit $35,000 – the estimated street value of the meth, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.

According to investigators, Gibson had been distributing meth, cocaine and other drugs on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation late last year and early this year. He supplied the drugs to other distributors, including Vanessa Louise Wagner, 30, of Plummer.

Gibson and Wagner both pleaded guilty over the summer to conspiracy to distribute meth, and Wagner is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Dec. 9.

Wagner introduced the undercover officer to Gibson, who sold meth and some heroin to the officer in December and January. On Jan. 8, the officer met Gibson at a gas station near the casino and purchased meth that was 99.9 percent pure, investigators said.

After the buy, officers began to converge on Gibson’s car. The suspect sped out of the parking lot and at one point drove straight toward an officer trying to arrest him. The officer fired once, striking Gibson, but the bullet had slowed sufficiently to only cause him bruising, according to the federal case file.

Gibson continued his high-speed flight, throwing cash out the window, before his car was stopped by a spike strip and he was arrested.

Officers found more than a pound of meth, LSD and a loaded handgun in his car.

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration, Idaho State Police, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Police and Plummer Police Department.

Today’s lesson? Don’t spit on cops

A man wanted on an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant faces new charges after he spat on two Spokane police officers.

Lance C. Anderson, 35, was arrested Monday and taken to Deaconess Hospital for medical clearance before being booked at Spokane County Jail, according to an affidavit. Anderson was disorderly and spat at two of the police officers arresting him.

Anderson now faces two felony charges of third-degree assault for the spitting.

Accused murderer of WWII veteran wants a later trial

From the day they were arrested, it seems the two teenagers suspected of beating and murdering an 88-year-old World War II veteran have had different ideas about how the trial should go.

Demetruis Glenn and Kenan Adams-Kinard, both 16, were arrested in August for the brutal beating death of Delbert “Shorty” Belton.  Glenn turned himself into police two days later. Adams-Kinard, however, kept running, police said. He was eventually found hiding in a friend's basement three days after Glenn was arrested.

According to motions filed in court, Adams-Kinard is now trying to push the trial date off. Adams-Kinard filed a motion Tuesday requesting that the Nov. 4 trial date be continued, and will appear in court Thursday on the matter.

Glenn, however, is ready for the trial to begin and is not interested in continuing the trial, according to the motion.

However, prosecutors want the two tried together, and have filed a motion to join their cases. If a continuance is approved, it will be approved for both Glenn and Adams-Kinard, according to the motion.

We'll find out Thursday at 9 a.m. if the trial date will be pushed back.

Sheriff’s Office looking for Walmart flashlight thief

The Spokane County Sheriff's Office is hoping the public can shed some light on a man they say stole a flashlight from a Spokane Valley Walmart over the weekend.

The man was captured on surveillance video entering the store at 5025 E. Sprague Ave. around 4 p.m. Sunday. He is a white male, wearing jeans, a grey collarless shirt and a dark zip-up sweatshirt with a light beard and short cropped hair.

According to an undercover officer in the store, the man left the location without paying for a flashlight he was carrying. When confronted in the parking lot, the man brandished a knife and fled to a nearby vehicle.

Police ran the vehicle's plates, which were written down by the store officer. The car was reported stolen. It has been recovered by authorities, but police have no leads on a suspect.

If you have information about the incident, the Sheriff's Office is asking that you contact Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS or online at crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org. A cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in this case.

Man claiming to be “Archangel of Death” indicted on stalking charges

A Spokane man found with a collection of modified weapons and an extensive journal detailing plots to overthrow the federal government pleaded not guilty to federal stalking charges last week.

Brent Russ, 33, was arrested last month after authorities say he sent a threatening letter and package to a former neighbor, who is also a tribal police officer. The woman reported suspicious activity, including comments made by Russ detailing her daily schedule that led her to believe she was being watched.

When federal agents arrived at Russ' southwest Spokane home to question him, they found reinforced steel plating on the doors and windows, tin foil lining interior walls and a lengthy journal dating back to February in which Russ identifies himself as Azrael, the Archangel of Death. Agents also found weapons featuring after-market modifications including a long-range scope, a fluted barrel to increase firing speed and a flash suppressor with chiseled points on the end, designed “to break glass and cause puncture wounds or lacerations to a target,” according to briefs filed by the FBI.

In the journal, Russ apparently indicated his willingness to die in battle against the forces of evil.

“I will exact vengeance on the wicked, and will free humanity from these demons,” Russ allegedly wrote. He also questioned the authenticity of evidence gathered against Adam Lanza, the shooter who killed 26 people, including 20 children, at a Connecticut elementary school in December.

At a lengthy bail hearing later in September, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Rodgers ordered Russ held by federal marshals in advance of courtroom proceedings. A grand jury formally charged Russ with one count of stalking on Tuesday, and Russ pleaded not guilty to the charge Wednesday. His trial has been tentatively scheduled for December.

Pill theft plants 52-year-old Spokane man in jail

The alleged theft of a $2 bottle of ibuprofen could lead to weeks of legal headaches for a Spokane man.

Michael Ewing was arrested Saturday after an undercover officer at an East Central grocery store said he saw the 52-year-old sneak a bottle of off-brand painkillers into his pants pocket. The officer approached Ewing when he went to pay for other purchases, and several witnesses said when the officer informed Ewing he would be placed under arrest, he began swinging his fists wildly, striking the officer in the eye. Store employees and the officer eventually subdued Ewing by placing him in handcuffs, according to court documents.

Prosecutors initially sought a charge of first-degree robbery for Ewing, who has two prior felony convictions back in the late 1970s. But at a first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday, Judge James Triplet ruled prosecutors had only proven probable cause for lesser charges of assault and theft.

Ewing was released from custody without bail. He is due in court to address the charges later this month.

High-speed chase ends in collision

A high-speed chase ended in a collision at Perry and Baldwin Streets. The suspect is in custody.

Police report the suspect was wanted in connection to an incident involving a gun yesterday. The suspect fled from police when they began chasing him, striking one car. Police executed a PIT maneuver, stopping him at the corner of Perry and Baldwin.

They were unable to provide more information about the suspect or his identity at the scene of the crash.

U.S. attorney asks for more time to investigate Kettle River campground incident

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Spokane petitioned the U.S. District Court last week to provide more time to investigate the events that led to a National Park ranger shooting a Kettle Falls man on a houseboat last month.

Michael Sublie, the owner of a houseboat currently moored on private property along the Kettle River branch of the Columbia, faces federal charges after Park Service rangers approached him for excessive noise at a remote beach Sept. 14. According to investigators, Sublie was verbally and physically defiant when rangers attempted to board the vessel and turn down the music.

Several demonstrators who turned out for a rally in support of Sublie and Casey Hartinger, the man shot by park rangers, said the incident followed an annual gathering attended by area law enforcement and hospital staff at the beach, and the shooting is just another in a list of grievances they share against the Park Service's law enforcement efforts.

In documents filed Sept. 26, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Tyler Tornabene said his office needed more time to collect investigative reports from various agencies involved in the case. The Washington State Patrol and Investigative Branch of the Park Service are looking into the circumstances leading to the shooting and examining whether there was any professional misconduct on the part of the rangers.

An initial order required the Attorney's Office to provide all discovery to defense counsel within 14 business days of the arrest. Tornabene wrote that timetable would be insufficient to complete the investigation.

“The United States is mindful of its discovery obligations and intends to fully and timely comply with those obligations,” Tornabene wrote.

Sublie is due in court for a pretrial status hearing later this month. Hartinger has not yet been charged in connection with the incident.

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