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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: excessive force

Jury clears deputy of excessive force

A North Idaho jury has cleared a Bonner County Sheriff’s deputy against allegations that he used excessive force during a DUI arrest following a crash with injuries on the road to Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

 The jury on Friday determined that Deputy Clint Mattingley did not use excessive force during the DUI arrest of Joel W. Petty on March 8, 2008. Mattingley was successfully defended by attorney Peter Erbland of Spokane. Petty was represented by attorney Greg Devlin, also of Spokane.

 At issue was Mattingley’s handcuffing of Petty after the deputy responded to an injury accident. According to court records, Petty had an ordor of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test. Petty alleged Mattingley used excessive force and caused a rotator cuff injury when the deputy handcuffed him. But the jury did not agree.

Use of force panel holds 1st meeting

The interim Spokane police chief and a Gonzaga University Law School professor were among the presenters Wednesday at the first meeting of Spokane's commission on police use of force.

Jason Gillmer, civil liberties expert, described the need for officers to be held to an “objective standard” regarding conduct instead of relying only on what the individual officer perceived at the time.

“This objective standard does not mean that an officer cannot make a mistake, but the mistake must be one that a reasonable officer could have made,” Gillmer said.

Interim Police Chief Scott Stephens described the department's mission and goals and answered questions about training

The meeting began with a  moment of silence for Otto Zehm, who died in 2006 after an encounter with Spokane police officers. It ended with comments from citizens, including the family of James Rogers, who was shot to death by police last September amid reports that he was armed and suicidal.

The commission, which was formed by Mayor David Condon, plans to finish reviewing Spokane Police Department policies by June.

Past coverage:

Jan. 25: Ex-chief justice joins use of force panel

Ex-justice to serve on Zehm committee

Gerry Alexander, who retired last year as the chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, will serve on the city's Use of Force Commission.

The commission was created last year by former Mayor Mary Verner to review the city's handling of the police confrontation that resulted in the death of Otto Zehm in 2006.

Read more at the Spin Control blog. 

Track the Karl Thompson-Otto Zehm trial

The defense is expected to rest on Thursday. Defense expert Michael Schott, a forensic image analyst who disputes prosecutors' description of the surveillence video, is on the stand now. Get minute-by-minute updates from the courtroom here.

YAKIMA – Spokane police Officer Steven Braun Jr. on Tuesday described Otto Zehm to jurors as someone who probably had committed a robbery, was trying to flee and then struggled violently against Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr.

 Braun provided details of the confrontation not captured on surveillance video from the north Spokane Zip Trip. Braun, the second officer to respond that night, described what he heard from dispatchers on March 18, 2006.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

McIntyre describes ‘intimidation’ by FBI

A Spokane police officer who is the target of a grand jury investigation for her role in the Otto Zehm case cried on the stand today as she alleged intimidation by federal agents.

Sandy McIntyre, who has a “father-daughter relationship” with Karl Thompson, has previously told federal investigators she though Thompson overreacted after she watched the video of the confrontation with Zehm.

But she told jurors in Thompson's excessive force case today that she doesn't actually believe that and doesn't remember saying that.

“I did not think he overreacted. I did not see the whole video and I wasn't there,” McIntyre said. “It's unfair of me to say he overreacted; I wasn't there.”

Federal prosecutor Victor Boutros said McIntyre talked to Thompson after watching video, but McIntyre said “I didn't speak to him about what was on the tape.”

Boutros said McIntyre exclaimed out loud that there was never a lunge, which McIntyre denied.

“I would not have made a note of that,” she said.

Boutros pointed out that after Acting Police Chief Jim Nicks told the department about the lunge, “You never corrected lunge lie, even though you knew it wasn't true.”

McIntyre replied: “I wasn't at work. It wasn't my job to correct that.”

McIntyre began crying when Thompson's lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, asked her whether she was scared when FBI threatened to charge her with obstruction of justice. She said it “very much” frightened her, though Boutros said the warning was a stand thing said before all interviews.

Oreskovich asked about her children, ages 19 and 14.

“My career means the world to me, just like my family does. That being said, it scared me to death,” McIntyre said. “I was told 'now's the time to save yourself.'”

McIntyre said that if you look at just a portion of the video or what's on TV “Yeah it looks horrible, it looks bad” but “I wasn't there when it started.” Only Thompson was, she said.

McIntyre admitted that she said “I don't recall” to grand jury questions when she actually did recall portions of it. “I did not feel like I could expand on my answers,” McIntyre said.

Oreskovich emphasized to jurors that federal agents “scared the hell” out of McIntyre to get her to say certain things to the grand jury.

Also testifying today was Officer Erin Raleigh.

Check out my minute-by-minute coverage here.

Look for Tom Clouse's full report from Yakima in The Spokesman-Review. We'll be back with full coverage on Monday.

Past coverage:

Oct. 21: Tim Moses claims feds manipulated him 

Jury rejects man’s excessive force claim

A jury Wednesday exonerated a Spokane County Sheriff’s detective who has been the subject of several excessive force complaints.

 The jury found unanimously for Spokane County in a case that began with a traffic stop on Jan. 22, 2006 by Jeff Welton, who was a deputy at the time.

Daniel B. Strange, 41, filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the county alleging that Welton used excessive force. 

“Obviously, we believe they made the right decision,” said attorney Heather Yakely, who represented Spokane County.

But Mary Schultz, representing Strange, said she was frustrated that she was not allowed to present more evidence to the jury.

Read Thomas Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Jan. 4: Civil trial begins over deputy's use of Taser

Police use-of-force case leaves questions

A Spokane man's arrest last July on suspicion of reckless driving, resisting arrest and driving with a suspended license has led to a disagreement between the Spokane Police Department and police Ombudsman Tim Burns, who has refused to certify the department’s internal investigation into a witness’s complaint of excessive force used against the suspect.

Burns questions an administrative review panel’s recommendation to exonerate the two accused officers. But police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who acted on the recommendation, said Burns doesn’t have the legal authority to make such a claim because his oversight is limited to internal investigations, not the later administrative review panels made up of police leaders.

“I don’t look at it as a substantive issue. To me, it’s just a legal question,” Kirkpatrick said. “What is Tim Burns’ authority and is the (panel) part of the investigation?”

Burns, who started work as the city’s first police ombudsman in August 2009, disagrees.

“My position is, If not me, then who?” he said.

Read my story here.

Trial begins over deputy‚Äôs use of Taser

A Spokane County Sheriff’s detective who has been the subject of a number of use-of-force complaints appeared in court Tuesday as a civil trial began by a man who claimed that he was unnecessarily shocked by a Taser during a traffic stop.

Daniel B. Strange, 41, (pictured above) filed a $1.5 million excessive force lawsuit against Spokane County in 2006 after a traffic stop on Jan. 22 of that year in which Deputy Jeff Welton shot Strange with a Taser during a traffic stop in Spokane Valley.

Read Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6, 2006: Lawsuit seeks $1.5 million for use of Taser

Court rulings support sheriff, police

Spokane area law enforcement prevailed in three cases, including two involving allegations that officers used excessive force, Tuesday in federal court proceedings.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of the city in the case of John Burton v. City of Spokane. In that case, Burton alleged that Spokane Police officers conducted an improper strip search and had a policy of performing similar searches without warrants.

Read Tom Clouse’s story here.

CdA seeks legal costs in dismissed lawsuit

The city of Coeur d’Alene is seeking recovery of legal fees after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed police assaulted her.

Shannon Kanda had a blood alcohol level of .28 when she had a neighbor call police to report she’d been assaulted, according to court documents.

Police responded to an apartment in the 1800 block of Legends Parkway around 9:20 p.m. May 7, 2009, where they say Kanda was uncooperative and hit an officer’s hands, then swung at an officer.

An officer deflected a punch and struck Kanda in the chin, the both offers “took hold of Kanda and put her down face first on the stairwell landing,” according to U.S District Judge Edward Lodge’s judgment, filed this week. One officer “informed Kanda that she had hit her head on the iron stairwell in the process.”

Kanda’s lawyer, Larry Purviance, said his client was unsteady because of alcohol and resisted a police order because she was afraid, according to the lawsuit.

Kanda injured her left eye and required surgery. Idaho State Police investigated the case. Kanda pleaded guilty to battery in February.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo said he’s “pleased but not surprised” buy the dismissal.

“Every day our officers do their best to respond in a professional manner in very difficult situations like this,” Longo said in a prepared statement. “It is unfortunate that as a result they become targets of meritless lawsuits.”

Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley said he’ll “definitely ask the court to order the plaintiff to pay the city’s legal costs.”

Kanda’s lawsuit was one of several filed by Purviance.

Two others mentioned in this story from last summer still are pending.

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