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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: officer-involved shootings

Video shows North Idaho police shooting

Two Post Falls police officers were justified when they shot a fugitive to death in March during a chase that ended in a cul-de-sac in Hayden, authorities concluded last week.

Video from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera released Friday shows Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, strike Idaho State Police Cpl. Michael Thomas Keys with a car before Keys and Post Falls police Officers Aaron Ogle and Bradley Johnson opened fire.

Todd, who died at the scene, was shot 10 times. Johnson fired 16 shots, Ogle fired one and Keys three.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall concluded this week that no criminal charges will be filed because the officers’ use of force was lawful.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 4: Video questions account of shooting

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

Wallace’s alleged accomplice tries suicide

A man accused of helping Charles Wallace, who shot two sheriff’s deputies before shooting himself to death last month, tried to kill himself at the Spokane County Jail on Friday.

Robert Lee “Bo” Ruth, 42, who was jailed last week after his girlfriend told police he’d assaulted her, remains on life support at a local hospital.

Ruth was found hanging unconscious in his jail cell Friday about 8:35 a.m. A corrections deputy cut him down and performed CPR until medics arrived, said Capt. John McGrath.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Recording lends insight into Wallace's release

June 22: Man accused of helping cop shooter to stay in jail

June 21: Man arrested for allegedly helping cop shooter

Letters address cop shooter’s release

Three recent letters to the editor address the case of Charles Wallace, who shot two sheriff's deputies last month after being released from jail on federal heroin charges.

Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ordered Wallace to report to a drug rehab center in Spokane Valley on May 31. He shot shot Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway on June 19 after authorities said he escaped from the facility.

Imbrogno has fallen under much scrutiny - scrutiny that longtime defense lawyer Mark Vovos said is undeserved.

Wallace “faced one count that had a sentencing guideline range of 24-30 months when he was released with conditions,” Vovos wrote. Read the full letter here. (Wallace was indicted the day of the shooting on charges that carried a potential life sentence, but that wasn't filed when he was released.)

In a letter published Saturday in response to this letter from lawyer Jeffry Finer, anti-drug war activist Chuck Armsbury suggests Wallace was released from jail not to actually complete a drug rehabilitation program but to work as an informant for drug detectives.

“The deal offered Charles Wallace, most likely, was to troll for more heroin users, to be an informant and possibly avoid going to prison,” Armsbury wrote.” Wacky idea? No: About 97 percent of federal drug cases are handled by guilty pleas and agreements to cooperate. Prosecutors justify routine use of informants as necessary and won’t reveal facts the public should know.” Read the full letter here.

Imbrogno and Wallace's lawyer, Jaime Hawk, have refused to comment on the case.

An audio recording of a 10-minute hearing held 15 days before Imbrogno issued her ruling is the only public information available regarding the federal magistrate's decision. Read my story on the recording here.

Lawsuit filed over ‘09 police shooting

Spokane police and sheriff's investigators examine the scene and cover the body of Jason Poss, who was shot on July 10, 2009. (SRphoto/Jesse Tinsley)

A federal lawsuit has been filed by the parents of a man shot and killed by Spokane police in 2009 after he attacked a woman with a skateboard and stabbed a dog.

The suit alleges that either Spokane police Officer Kellee Gately or Officer Jason Curtis fired the fatal bullet – testing apparently was not able to determine the gun of origin – after 23-year-old Jason Poss had already been shot once, knocked down and disarmed of his knife.

The suit alleges that Gately and Curtis violated Poss’ civil rights by using “excessive force, deadly force, and/or inadequate training.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 10, 2009: Spokane police kill knife-wielding man

Wallace’s alleged accomplice free on bond

A Spokane man accused of helping the fugitive who shot two sheriff's deputies is out of jail after posting $100,000 bond this week.

Robert Lee “Bo” Ruth, 42, posted the bond through Bulldog Bail Bonds on July 2 after being in the Spokane County Jail since June 20, according to court records.

Ruth appeared before Superior Court Judge Jerome Leveque on Thursday and pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

Members of the drug task force were looking for fugitive heroin trafficking suspect Charles Robert Wallace at Ruth's family's property on North Alcan Street on June 19 when they followed Ruth's SUV and a Chevy Tahoe with a young couple and a man in a disguise they believed could be Wallace.

The SUV stopped at Roundy’s Kawasaki on North Newport Highway for about a half an hour before Ruth drove north and the Tahoe went south.

Task force members directed Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway to identify the passengers of the Tahoe and warned that Wallace “was believed to be armed and had made statements that he was not going back to jail,” according to court documents.

Just after the Tahoe stopped on Elm Road just off the highway, Wallace exited and opened fire on Spink and Northway. Spink was struck once in the leg; Northway was hit four times and may have bled to death had a citizen not helped control heavy bleeding from an artery in his left arm, police officials say.

The driver of the Tahoe and a passenger, Joshua Vincent Fowler and Brittany A. McCullough, sped away and Wallace ran away, stole an 87-year-old woman’s Honda Accord then fled the area before shooting himself after a 21-mile chase.

Officer Beau Brannon, who owns a home on Princeton Avenue that was rented by Ruth, called Ruth right after the shooting and told him what happened.

Police say Ruth lied to the officer and said he hadn’t talked to Wallace since June 14, then changed his story and said he’d seen Wallace but didn’t know where he was. He then hung up on the officer and refused to answer his phone.

Ruth and his girlfriend and their infant son moved out of the Princeton home after a home-invasion robbery on May 29 in which Ruth was shot in the leg. David F. Smith, 40, is suspected in that case.

Ruth has seven felony convictions; his last occurred in 2000.

Wallace’s wrist, risk factors at hearing

Five weeks before Charles Robert Wallace shot two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies, he sat in a federal courtroom in downtown Spokane, his hand in a cast, as his lawyer told a judge he needed drug addiction treatment instead of jail.

The 41-year-old suspected heroin trafficker’s wrist had been broken in a fall at the Spokane County Jail, and it took five days to get it set in a cast.

“It’s been a pretty painful and pretty difficult couple of weeks,” Wallace’s federal public defender, Jaime Hawk, said during the May 10 hearing as she urged U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno to allow Wallace to leave jail for drug rehab.

“He can’t leave there. He’s not a danger to the community and will be engaging in the needed substance abuse treatment,” Hawk said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 25: Wallace had been to drug rehab before

June 21: Woman, 87, describes fight with Wallace

June 22: Task force directed deputies to stop SUV

Deputies recovering as probe continues

Two sheriff’s deputies shot by a fugitive heroin trafficking suspect last week continue to recover as detectives continue to investigate the crime spree that ended in the shooter’s suicide.

  Deputy Matt Spink (left), who was shot once in his leg, was released on Friday. Deputy Mike Northway (right), who was shot four times in his arms and legs, remains in the hospital but has been released from the intensive care unit and has walked around a couple times.

“There’s even been some talk about a hospital discharge date,” said Deputy Craig Chamberlin, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 21: Sheriff: Deputies Spink, Northway, the kind 'you can count on'

Wallace had been to drug rehab before

Charles Robert Wallace, who shot two sheriff's deputies last Tuesday before leading police on a chase that ended with his suicide, had been to drug rehab long before a judge allowed him to leave jail to give it another chance last month.

He completed “intensive outpatient” treatment in 2000 and a continuing care program through Coyote Ridge Corrections Center in 2001, according to court documents.

He also took courses on victim awareness, stress and anger management, as well as a “Breaking Barriers” course that aims to teach offenders better living skills. He also completed “moral reconation therapy,” which aims to improve the moral thinking of criminals.

The therapy apparently didn't have much of an effect on the man who would go on to commit one of the most high-profile crime sprees in recent Spokane County history.

One month after he was dropped from probation, Wallace was arrested with heroin during a traffic stop in Spokane.

That resulted in Wallace returning to prison in February 2003 and being released in April 2006. He was arrested in Adams County just two weeks after his release and ordered back to prison. He left again in October 2009. His probation period with the Washington Department of Corrections ended on Nov. 10, 2010.

As first reported in this story, a review of Wallace's criminal history in Spokane County shows a pattern of disobeying court orders, using drugs and fighting with law enforcement.

A document prepared by a court officials in 1985 for a car prowling charge says, “Charlie has made no effort to comply with his court-ordered conditions.”

Wallace, then 13, was ordered to spend five days in juvenile detention. He also was convicted of attempted assault in 1984. He wrote in court documents that “I pulled out my knife when I was fighting with my sister.” He stole a bottle of wine from a grocery store and stole a bike from a home in 1985. He also was convicted of indecent liberties for having a sexual relationship with a girl under the age of 14 in 1984.

Wallace first went to prison in July 1998 for after leading a Washington State Patrol trooper on a high-speed chase in Spokane Valley on Nov. 15, 1997.

Wallace ditched the stolen truck he was driving and ran from the trooper but was arrested after a struggle.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, then a deputy, was off duty but witnessed the arrest and helped the trooper by picking up a syringe and pouch filled with drug syringes, spoons and methamphetamine located near Wallace, according to court documents.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Knezovich said, though he said he didn't realize who the man was until a reporter contacted him Wednesday evening.

Knezovich said he was recovering from shoulder surgery at his apartment home with his three young children when a neighbor knocked on his door and told him a trooper needed help.

“Wallace led the trooper on quite a chase through the apartment complex,” Knezovich said. “He was fighting with the trooper really hard.”

Police found a loaded shotgun in the truck that had been reported stolen a year earlier. Knezovich said the gun Wallace used to shoot Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway on Tueday also was stolen.

The truck in 1997 belonged to Wallace's mother, Melissa A. Wallace. She told police her son stole her truck and identified him as the driver.Wallace became irate when she did - police say he kicked the right rear window of a police cruiser and had to be controlled with leg restraints.

It wasn't the only time Wallace victimized his mother. He was charged with forgery in 1996 for forging a check from her and cashing it at a Liberty Lake bank for $275. Wallace's mother told a sheriff's deputy Wallace had been living in a travel trailer on her property on Campbell Road in southeast Spokane County for several years, according to court documents.

Wallace was sentenced to five years in prison but served less than three. He began probation in March 2001, but his freedom didn't last long. He was arrested in May 2002 on drug charges after the traffic stop in Spokane. A Spokane police officer said Wallace began to exit his car during a traffic stop but obeyed the officer's commands to remain inside and close the door. Wallace was arrested after the officer found heroin in the car.  Police also found heroin, cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia at his home in the 1200 block of West Alice Avenue.

He was ordered to report to Geiger Corrections Center for drug monitoring on June 25, 2002. It wasn't until September that he arrived at Geiger, and when he did, he tested positive for methamphetamine, cocaine and morphine. He escaped from Geiger in December 2002 and was convicted of second-degree escape.

He returned to prison in February 2003 and was released in April 2006. He was arrested in Adams County on a heroin charge just two weeks after his release and ordered back to prison. He was sentenced to just 12 months, but the arrested violated his previous “Drug Offender Alternative Sentence,” so he was ordered to serve the remainder of that prison sentence.

He left again in October 2009. His probation period with the Washington Department of Corrections ended on Nov. 10, 2010.

View a PDF version of the 1997 report involving Knezovich and Wallace here.

A summary of Wallace's criminal history can be viewed here. It does not include convictions for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver heroin, second-degree escape from 2003 and the Adams County drug conviction in 2006.

Look for more coverage soon from The Spokesman-Review regarding the decision to release Wallace.

Past coverage:

June 22: Man accused of helping cop shooter to stay in jail

June 21: Task force directed deputies to stop SUV

Man shot by police jailed on $10k bond

Jesse Johnson scratches his head as he lies with a bandaged thigh in a hospital bed on Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. (SRphoto/Tyler Tjomsland)

A man who was shot by a Spokane police officer as he confronted another man with what turned out to be a BB gun will remain jailed on $10,000 bond.

 Jesse Hugh Johnson, 24, appeared before a judge on Friday on charges related to an incident early Sunday near North Napa Street and East Mission Avenue in which he was shot in the right leg by Spokane police Officer Ron Van Tassel.

Van Tassel (pictured) was responding to a report of a man armed with a shotgun when he saw Johnson pointing a weapon at Corey Hall-Cottrell, who is Johnson's former roommate.

Van Tassel, 31, shot Johnson “with the belief that if he did not act immediately Hall-Cottrell would be shot,” according to court documents.

Hall-Cottrell later showed police scars on his head and hand from where Johnson had shot him with a BB gun in the past, documents say.

Police noticed Johnson trying to hide something in his mouth while in the emergency room and discovered it was a bag of methamphetamine.

Johnson said in an interview Monday from his hospital bed that he intended to shoot the man with the BB gun because he believes the man stole two bicycles. But he said police overreacted when they shot him and should have known his weapon was only a BB gun.

He also said he never intended to report the thefts to police. He also said the meth was not his. He was released from the hospital to jail on Thursday.

In addition to a meth possession charge, police are asking prosecutors to charge Johnson with fourth-degree assault, reckless endangerment, intimidation with a weapon and aiming or discharging a dangerous weapon.

Man arrested for helping cop shooter

A Spokane man shot in the leg during a home-invasion robbery last month was with a fugitive just before he opened fire on two sheriff’s deputies Tuesday.

Robert Lee “Bo” Ruth, 42, is in jail, accused of helping suspected heroin trafficker Charles Robert Wallace hide from law enforcement after Wallace walked away from court-ordered drug treatment in Spokane Valley.

Read the rest of my story here.

Woman, 87, describes fight w/ Wallace

Mary Rock waves her cane Wednesday as she stands in her backyard in front of a door, center, where she says Charles Wallace entered her home in north Spokane. (SRphoto/Tyler Tjomsland)

Mary Rock, 87, moved from Los Angeles to Spokane 10 years ago to escape the high rate of crime there.

But on Tuesday, she found herself in the middle of one of the biggest crime stories of the year, as a man suspected of shooting two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies broke down her back door, ripped her phone off the wall and demanded her car keys.

The petite woman put up a fight, wielding a heavy wooden cane and shouting for Charles Wallace to get out of her north Spokane house.

Read the rest of Chelsea Bannach's story here.

Spink, Northway seasoned deputies

Spokane County sheriff’s deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway have backed each other up on patrol in north Spokane County for six years, so it’s not too surprising the men were together when fugitive Charles Wallace opened fire on them Tuesday, wounding both.

The deputies, who are good friends outside of work, remain hospitalized but in stable condition. Spink, 45, (pictured left) suffered a single gunshot wound to his leg, police officials said. Northway, 42, (pictured right) took four bullets, including one that shattered a femur and another that blew away three inches of an artery in his arm.

Read the rest of Jody Lawrence-Turner's story here.

 

 


  

Wallace’s release baffles Knezovich

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The county’s top law enforcement officer expressed outrage Wednesday that a suspected heroin dealer facing his fourth stay in prison was released from jail just weeks before shooting two deputies in a gunbattle north of Spokane.

 Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich waved a thick packet detailing the extensive criminal history of 41-year-old Charles Robert Wallace (pictured) at a news conference, criticizing U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno’s order to release Wallace into a voluntary drug rehabilitation center.

“Mr. Wallace put this entire community at extreme risk,” Knezovich said. “I question why this individual was allowed to be on the streets of Spokane instead of being in jail where he should have been.”

Read the rest of the story here.\

View a photo gallery from Tuesday here.

Original story: Suspct kills self after two deputies shot

Cop shooter robbed woman, 87, of car

A suspected heroin trafficker believed to have shot two sheriff's deputies stole an 87-year-old woman's car before he fatally shot himself during a police pursuit Tuesday.

Police said late Tuesday that the woman chased Charles Robert Wallace, 41, out of her house and hit him with a cane before Wallace, who was armed with a gun, stole her Honda Accord.

Wallace was driving that Honda Accord when he ran over spike strips, crashed into a Spokane police cruiser, then fatally shot himself.

Federal agents had been looking for Wallace since hearing he'd left a Spokane Valley drug rehabilitation center last week.

Two sheriff's deputies had stopped Wallace in an SUV when he shot them and fled west to the 9800 block of North Andrews, where he forced his way into the woman's home and demanded her keys.

He then drove north on Highway 395, where another wild chase ensued.

“This event was extremely dynamic and rapidly unfolding. Information was constantly being given to responding officers who continued to search for the primary suspect. Other individuals may have been involved, creating other locations within the City and the County to receive police attention,” according to a news release by Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, spokeswoman for the Spokane Police Department.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Coverage:

Police mistake hit-and-run suspects for shooting accomplices

Two sheriff's deputies shot; suspect kills self

Suspect recently left drug rehab center

Man shot by Spokane police speaks out

Jesse Johnson scratches his head as he lies with a bandaged thigh in a hospital bed on Monday at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. (SRphoto/Tyler Tjomsland)

Jesse Hugh Johnson says he thought no one else was around when, armed with a BB gun, he confronted a suspected thief early Sunday.

The 24-year-old Spokane man realized a neighbor must’ve called police when a bullet struck the back of his upper right leg and police officers swarmed the area.

“I go to pull the trigger, they go and shoot me,” Johnson said Monday evening in an interview with The Spokesman-Review from his hospital bed at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. “They just kind of came out of nowhere.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Gory face-mauling attack shocks police

In this image taken from video, Miami police officers stand watch near a naked man, second from right, who was shot dead by a police officer when he refused to stop chewing on the face of the naked man next to him, partially obscured by a railing, in Miami, Saturday.  (AP Photo/The Miami Herald)

By JENNIFER KAY,Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — It is being called one of this city's goriest crimes: A naked man was on top of another nude man along a busy highway, biting into the man's face, tearing it to pieces. A police officer arrived to help, but the mauler growled at him and continued to chew away, stopping only when he was shot to death.

 Miami police said little Tuesday about the attack, which took place Saturday afternoon in the shadow of The Miami Herald headquarters. Surveillance video from the newspaper's security camera showed cars, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicyclists passing by.

The victim, identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo (left), was in critical condition, with only his goatee intact on his face, the newspaper reported.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said it was one of the bloodiest “and goriest scenes I've ever been to.”

“It was not only grotesque, it was just very sad, the amount of blood. It was very sad to see what happened to this gentleman that had his face eaten,” Ortiz said.

It's not clear what led Rudy Eugene (right), 31, to attack Poppo. Eugene's ex-wife, Jenny Ductant, told WPLG-TV, said he was somewhat paranoid.

“I wouldn't say he had mental problem but he always felt like people was against him … No one was for him, everyone was against him,” she told the station. She and Eugene's mother declined comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Larry Vega was riding his bicycle off the causeway, which connects downtown Miami with Miami Beach, when he saw the attack.

“The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, 'Get off!'” Vega told Miami television station WSVN (http://bit.ly/L6kwWt). “The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin.”

Vega flagged down the Miami police officer, who can be seen exiting his car on the Herald video. Vega said the officer repeatedly ordered the attacker to get off. Eugene just picked his head up and growled at the officer before continuing to maul his victim, Vega said.

The officer shot Eugene, but he just kept chewing, Vega said. The officer fired again, killing Eugene.

Vega refused to comment when reached by The Associated Press, saying he wanted to put what he witnessed behind him.

Detective William Moreno would not release details about the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner declined to provide any information until after the autopsy, which was scheduled for Tuesday.

Ortiz said the officer, who is part of a crisis intervention team and trained to deal with the mentally ill, had no choice but to fire.

“He's clearly shaken up,” Ortiz said, adding that the officer had been administratively reassigned pending an investigation, as is standard after an officer-involved shooting.

After the shooting, the Herald's video zooms in on the scene. Most of it is blocked by an overpass, but two sets of uncovered legs can be seen. One set never moves, while the other twists and turns as if the person is in pain.

“It was just a blob of blood,” Vega said. “You couldn't really see, it was just blood all over the place.”

Court records show that Poppo has several arrests for public intoxication.

According to Miami-Dade court records, Eugene had been arrested for multiple misdemeanors, mostly marijuana-related charges. The most recent arrest was in 2009. The Herald reported that he played football at a Miami area high school in the late 1990s.

Ives Eugene, who identified himself as Rudy Eugene's uncle, described his nephew as a “nice and hard-working” man who washed cars at a local dealership.

He said his nephew had asked his girlfriend to borrow her car, but she said no. “So he rode the bicycle, and he never came back home,” he said.

Associated Press reporter Suzette Laboy contributed to this report.

Video questions account of shooting

Watch me talk about the story in the video above with KHQ's Dave Cotton.

A homeowner says his surveillance video brings into question the official account of why law enforcement shot and killed a North Idaho fugitive three weeks ago, though police warn against drawing too many conclusions from the footage because it captures just a portion of the chaotic 20-minute chase and final encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

Shot fugitive had wig, weapons, paint

A fugitive shot to death by police in North Idaho had material for changing his identity in his vehicle, as well as weapons, drug paraphernalia and an active police scanner.

 The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department announced the discovery Wednesday as part of its ongoing investigation into the death of Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33.

Todd died early Monday after he was shot by multiple Post Falls police officers following a 20-minute chase that ended in a residential area in west Hayden, Idaho.

Todd was shot after he struck an Idaho State Police trooper with his car and knocked him to the ground. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Todd, a longtime felon, was wanted on a warrant for eluding police when his car triggered an alert system on Interstate 90 that detects stolen vehicles and fugitives.

Investigators said Wednesday that Todd's car had recently been painted from blue to white. They found six cans of black spray paint in the car that indicated Todd may have planned to paint it again. They also found a brass knuckles/stun gun combination weapons, a knife, three cell phones along with the paraphernalia and scanner.

Investigators interviewed all officers involved in the incident Wednesday. The Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office will decide on charges once a report is submitted.

Fugitive shot, killed by Post Falls police

A North Idaho man with an extensive criminal history was shot and killed by a Post Falls police officer early Monday after striking a state trooper with his car, police say.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, died at Kootenai Medical Center after a nearly 20-minue police chase ended with shots fired in a residential area near St. Estephe Court and Bordeaux Drive, just west of Ramsey Road and south of Honeysuckle Drive in Hayden.

Read the rest of my story here.

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