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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: officer-involved shootings

No charges in fatal Colville cop shooting

A Colville police officer was justified when he shot and killed a 21-year-old car prowling suspect who investigators say was armed with a stolen gun last November, prosecutors recently concluded.

 Officer Dan Spring Spring feared for his life when Sean Bergstrasser (pictured) grabbed a stolen gun in a motel room Nov. 12, and his use of deadly force to stop the threat posed by Bergstrasser was legal, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen and Deputy Prosecutor Mathew Enzler concluded.

Andy Hydorn, president of the Colville Chamber of Commerce and owner of Benny’s Colville Inn, was in the motel room and watched Officer Dan Spring fire six shots at Bergstrasser after Bergstrasser picked up a firearm and pointed it toward the officer “as if to fire the weapon,” according to a report released Monday by the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 14: Man killed by Colville police a California native

Man, 21, shot to death by Colville police

A 21-year-old man shot to death by a Colville police officer late Saturday was raised by a computer analyst and an elementary school teacher in a small town near Bakersfield, Calif., before embracing what his father described as a “transient” lifestyle.

 Few details about the shooting death of Sean Joseph Bergstrasser have been released, including what prompted the officer to open fire.

Bergstrasser’s father, Mark Bergstrasser, a computer systems analyst who lives with his wife, a fifth-grade teacher, in Wasco, Calif., said he never knew their son to own a firearm.

“Sean has never owned a firearm,” he said. “Where the handgun actually came from is a question I have. I don’t know.”

Read my full story here.

Man shot by police sues Spokane Valley

A man acquitted of assaulting two police officers who shot him in October 2009 is suing the city of Spokane Valley.

David J. Glidden, 29, was paralyzed by the shooting and is seeking compensation for millions of dollars in medical expenses he’s accrued and expects to accrue. He was holding a pellet gun when shot by officers at his Spokane Valley home Oct. 30, 2009.

Read the reset of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 17: Man shot by deputies acquitted of assault

Nov. 9, 2009: Man shot by police: 'It will be on the news'

Nov. 4, 2009: Man shot by police had pellet gun

Wife’s spot saves man from cop gunfire

A Spokane Valley man who pointed a starter pistol at officers last week was not shot because his wife was in the line of fire, police announced today.

William Thomas Laroque, 28, said “Well, hello officers” and began calmly walking toward Sgts. Don Manning and Matt Smith when they arrived at his home in the 5300 block of East 8th Avenue after 3:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to a news release from the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Officer Jeremy Howe had been there about three hours earlier after Laroque's wife reported to 911 that he slapped her during an argument. No arrests were made because Howe didn't find evidence of the assault, and Laroque had already fled the home. Laroque's wife called 911 again when he returned and refused to leave, police said.

Laroque was about 30 feet away from police when “he pulled what appeared to be a pistol from his pants and aimed it in a two-handed stance at Sgt. Smith,” according to the release.

Police drew their guns but realized Laroque's wife was behind him and in the line of fire. Laroque continued aiming the gun at Smith but dropped it several seconds after the sergeants began ordered him to do so. He also tossed a knife in the driveway and got on the ground, where he was handcuffed.

The wife repeatedly told police the gun was fake and also thanked them for not shooting her husband, police said. Laroque was arrested on a domestic violence charge and is in custody at Geiger Corrections Center on $3,500 bond.

Officer in fatal shooting is 16-year vet

A 16-year Spokane police veteran and member of the SWAT team has been identified as the officer who shot and killed an armed and suicidal man Monday.

 Authorities said Thursday that Officer Dan Lesser (left) was the only officer who fired shots during the nearly two-hour standoff with James Edward Rogers, 45, (right) who died of gunshot wounds after he refused a negotiator’s commands to exit his overturned van at East Seventh Avenue and South Hatch Street on the lower South Hill.

Officers could see him “hanging from the driver’s seat, still manipulating the shotgun” after the van overturned, according to a news release by Spokane County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: Man killed by police fired shot before chase began

Sept. 28: Family questions fatal police shooting

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

Suicidal man fired shot before chase

A suicidal man who was shot to death by police during a nearly two-hour standoff apparently fired a shotgun outside his workplace before officers arrived, according to information released today by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

A sheriff’s K-9 team recovered a portion of a shotgun shell known as a wad in the area where a witness said James Edward Rogers fired a shot before fleeing in a van. No one was injured by that shot in the parking lot.

But about two hours later, Rogers, 45, was killed by Spokane police after refusing commands to put down the shotgun and exit the overturned van, which he had crashed at East Seventh Avenue and South Hatch Street while fleeing officers.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Family questions fatal police shooting

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

 

Family questions fatal police shooting

Spokane police and members of the SWAT unit investigate after a stand-off with the shooting death of James E. Rogers on Monday near Seventh and Hatch on the lower South Hill. (Jesse Tinsley/SR)

James Edward Rogers spent Monday driving around the Spokane area, calling his family.

Depressed and distraught, the 45-year-old father of seven said it was over – that he had his father’s shotgun and planned to use it on himself. His family frantically searched for him, eventually learning of a police standoff on the lower South Hill with a man in a van.

It had to be him, said Rogers’ father, Alonzo Rogers, who owns the van his son took from their Deer Park home Monday.

Family rushed to the area of Hatch Street and Seventh Avenue to help officers persuade Rogers to surrender, but gunfire interrupted Rogers’ sister’s phone call with police.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

Dead man’s family wants jury inquest

Granville Dodd was home in bed when he got the call.

His younger brother, Quentin Dodd, (right) one of 11 siblings, had been shot in Spokane Valley by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy. It was bad, his family said, but no one knew exactly what happened.

 Dodd soon learned his 50-year-old brother was dead. Nearly one year later, he says he’s still searching for answers to questions he has had since day one.

 Granville Dodd questions the deputy’s account of the shooting, compared to the forensic evidence, and he’s troubled that police portrayed his brother as being high on drugs when an autopsy showed only prescription medication was in Quentin Dodd’s system.

Spokane County prosecutors recently ruled the Oct. 24, 2010, shooting by Deputy Rustin Olson (left) was justified. Olson and another deputy who confronted Dodd that evening told investigators that Dodd wielded a sharp obsidian rock, refused orders to drop it, threatened to stab one of them, then ran toward Olson, prompting the deputy to shoot.

But the Dodd family, through their attorneys, Breean Beggs and Mark Harris, are calling for a closer examination of the case in the form of a jury inquest.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 19: Coroners says inquests offer transparency

Oct. 27: Man killed by deputy had been suicidal

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Dead man’s family doubt SF police claims

In this photo from July 20, San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, bottom, addresses Bayview residents upset about the police shooting of Washington state parolee Kenneth Wade Harding in San Francisco. About 300 people gathered for the meeting which ended early following outbursts from some attendees. (AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Noah Berger)

By TERRY COLLINS,Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Distraught relatives of a Washington state parolee who San Francisco police believe fatally shot himself while running away from officers said Monday they are demanding more answers.

Kenneth Harding's family and their attorney said they are troubled with how police have portrayed the shooting. Police first said that the 19-year-old was fatally shot by officers, then said they believed Harding killed himself with his own gun.

“I'm angry and I'm hurt,” Harding's mother, Denika Chatman of Seattle said at a news conference in Oakland. “I want the truth and I want justice to be done.”

Police said officers tried to stop Harding (pictured) while checking for fare evaders on a light-rail train July 16 in the city's Bayview district. His mother said her son, who would have turned 20 on Aug. 5, was in the San Francisco Bay area to visit family and embark on a rap music career.

She also said that her son was enrolled to attend a community college in Seattle this fall.

“We know based upon the police department's shifting stories, conflicting statements, allegations, claims and retractions that the truth seems to be far from at hand,” said Adante Pointer, Harding's family attorney. “A truth that the family is entitled to.”

Police initially said officers gunned down Harding in self-defense after he first shot at them. They later said Harding was a parolee sought for questioning about the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman in Seattle.

Police also that gunshot residue on Harding's right hand backed officers' accounts that Harding fired the first shot as well as audio of the shots captured by a gunshot-detection system used by police.

But angry community reaction to the shooting and videos posted online show Harding bleeding helplessly in the middle of the street as police stood around him with guns drawn and a crowd gathered.

At a packed town hall meeting last week, Police Chief Greg Suhr was cursed and shouted down by outraged residents a short distance from where the shooting took place.

Suhr later said that he now believes Harding shot and killed himself with his own gun. Suhr said after officers shot him in the leg, Harding lurched and fired his gun and the bullet entered the right side of his neck and lodged behind his cheek.

Authorities say they do not know whether Harding killed himself — either intentionally or by accident — with a .380-caliber bullet. A similar bullet was found in Harding's jacket pocket, police said as the gun he apparently used is still missing.

Police said officers only shot Harding in the leg and could not have fired the fatal bullet because they use .40-caliber handguns that cannot fire .380 ammunition.

On Monday, Harding's sister, Mikcolyn Curtis, said her brother told her just hours before her his death that he wanted to provide a better life for their mother.

“He didn't have nothing on his mind to want to blow his brains out,” Curtis said.

Pointer said Harding's family reject the notion that he was on the run and requests police provide them with a preliminary autopsy report, witness statements, surveillance video and the gunshot residue tests.

“So they can have the closure they are entitled to,” Pointer said.

Pointer said they also want witnesses who saw what happened to come forth.

“What's in dispute is the truth and we want to get to the bottom of this situation,” Pointer said. “We've been told a number of different things and we have information that is conflicting. We need to sort this out.”

Police: Dead murder suspect shot self

San Francisco Police chief Greg Suhr speaks at a news conference next to undated booking photos of Kenneth Harding in San Francisco on July 18. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By TERRY COLLINS,Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A police shooting that stirred community outcry and street protests took a stunning turn Thursday when investigators said they now believe a 19-year-old Washington parolee being sought for questioning in a Seattle murder fatally shot himself in the neck.

Kenneth Harding died Saturday in what San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr previously described as a shootout with police in which Harding fired the first shot.

However, police Cmdr. Mike Biel said Thursday that preliminary autopsy results showed the caliber of the bullet that killed 19-year-old Kenneth Harding did not match the caliber used by police.

“We believe that the fatal wound on Mr. Harding's body was self-inflicted,” Biel said.

John Sanchez, a criminalist at the San Francisco Crime Lab, said the .380-caliber bullet found in Harding's head was not consistent with the.40-caliber guns issued to San Francisco police.

“The bullet could not have been fired from any department-issued firearm,” Sanchez said.

Medical personnel found an unfired .380-caliber bullet in Harding's right jacket pocket, but the gun itself was not recovered, Biel said.

“We want to take this opportunity to reach out to the community in locating the correct weapon,” Biel said. “We believe the weapon that we are looking for is a .380-caliber handgun.”

A gun recovered by police late Saturday as part of the investigation was a .45-caliber pistol and could not have fired the fatal shot, police said.

The only other wound to Harding was a gunshot to his left leg, according to Chief Medical Examiner Amy Hart.

Authorities had not determined whether Harding shot himself on purpose or by accident, police said.

Harding was the main person of interest in last week's South Seattle shooting death of 19-year-old Tanaya Gilbert, Seattle police said. A Seattle police spokesman said he did not have information on the caliber of the gun used in the shooting of Gilbert. No weapon was recovered in that case, Seattle police Detective Mark Jamieson said.

In April, Harding was released from a Washington state prison after he served 22 months for attempting to promote prostitution involving a 14-year-old girl in King County.

Harding had initially been stopped by police in a routine check for fare-beaters on the city's light-rail train system, police said after Saturday's shooting.

Police said Tuesday that gunshot residue on Harding's right hand backed officers' accounts that Harding had fired the first shot, as did audio of the shots captured by a gunshot-detection system used by San Francisco police.

On Tuesday, 43 people were arrested in a raucous rush-hour march to protest Harding's death at the hands of what all believed at the time was police.

On Wednesday night, Suhr was shouted down at a town hall meeting in the city's Bayview neighborhood a short distance from where the shooting took place.

Keevin O'Brien, a minister who co-organized Wednesday's meeting, said he was still trying to process Thursday's developments.

“Nonetheless, we have a dead young man that could've probably changed his life if the police had gotten to him sooner,” O'Brien said. “This should not have happened the way it did.”

O'Brien said the Bayview community is going to have a hard time with the findings.

“They're not going to believe this,” O'Brien said. “They're so broken and hurt by what they already saw. This is going to be hard to digest.”

Biel said Thursday that he also understands likely cynicism in the community.

“I understand how the community feels, however, our investigation is based on total fact. That's what we have now,” Biel said.

O'Brien said he planned on going out in the community Thursday evening to “check its pulse.”

Creach family seeks $15mil from county

The family of slain Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach has filed a $14.7 million wrongful death claim against Spokane County, which is the first step in filing a civil lawsuit.

“A jury may come in and feel highly aggravated at what happened,” said the pastor’s son, Alan Creach. “They may award a very large sum.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who is on vacation, said Tuesday that he knows the claim has been filed. “Since it’s gone into the lawsuit phase, I don’t have any comments, per our legal advice.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Fatal police shooting ruled justified

From upper left, Spokane police Officers Dan Cole, Bill Hager, Kyle Heuett, Mike McNab, Bruce Palmer and Doug Strosahl were involved in the fatal shooting of Ethan Corporon.

Police were justified when they shot and killed a 29-year-old man who was running with a shotgun outside a busy Spokane restaurant last fall, the Spokane County prosecutor’s office has ruled.

 Ethan A. Corporon fired six shots at a home at 1402 W. Buckeye Ave. on Nov. 12 before fleeing police and abandoning his father’s pickup in the middle of southbound Monroe Street in front of Shari’s restaurant. Witnesses at the time said Corporon appeared to be firing the shotgun while running from officers, though a police investigation determined Corporon never fired but did refuse to drop the weapon.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said Corporon’s refusal to drop the shotgun gave police legitimate concerns for their own safety and the safety of others.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past covergae:

Nov. 16: Gunman killed by police described as volatile, explosive

Nov. 12: Shotgun-shooting man killed by police

Fatal Idaho police shooting ruled justified

An Idaho State Police trooper who shot a fugitive to death during a pursuit north of Coeur d’Alene in February will not face charges.

Trooper Dan Howard was justified when he used deadly force to stop a Jeep that was approaching him after he exited his police car following a collision, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

Howard fired several shots, six of which hit the Jeep. Investigators believe he was aiming at the driver of the Jeep, Mark M. Maykopet, a fugitive from Butte, but one of the shots hit Maykopet’s wife, 40-year-old Christie Ann Little, alias O’Leary, who also was a fugitive.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shawna Dunn said Little’s seat was slightly reclined, which led to her being shot even though bullet holes on the Jeep showed Howard was aiming at Maykopet in the driver’s seat.

“Her seat was basically in the line of fire between the trooper and the driver,” Dunn said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 19: Idaho trooper interviewed about fatal shooting

Feb. 24: Couple shot by ISP trooper were married

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

Deputy cleared in pastor’s fatal shooting

The Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor last year will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter.

Deputy Brian Hirzel followed all departmental policies and procedures during the Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach (pictured), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Wednesday in announcing the results of his internal investigation. He met with members of the Creach family earlier in the day to advise them of the findings.

“This was a very tragic situation. I’m saddened for the community. I’m saddened for the Creach family. I’m saddened for law enforcement,” Knezovich said. “But it came down to a matter of choices. For Deputy Hirzel, when (Creach) reached for that weapon, he was faced with a deadly threat.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Sheriff drops the wait for police shooting interviews

Stevens County shooting ruled justifed

No charges will be filed against a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy who shot a burglary suspect as he was in bed reaching for a gun.

Deputy Travis Frizzell was justified in believing Trinidy Capone Lopez, 24, posed a serious threat during the March 5 confrontation, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who decided against filing criminal charges after reviewing the police investigation.

Deputies were trying to question Lopez about vehicle prowlings outside a Stevens County bar.

“While Frizzell had no duty to retreat, retreat was impossible due to his close proximity to Lopez and the narrow stairway he would have to negotiate to get to a place of protection,” Rasmussen wrote. “He had no other reasonable choice than to protect himself from the threat presented to him by Trinidy Lopez and his firearm.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 8: Deputies in Stevens County shooting identified

March 7: Man shot by deputies denies being armed

Police shoot gator, then realize it’s fake

BILL DRAPER,Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police responding to a rare alligator sighting in suburban Kansas City took quick action to dispatch of the beast, shooting it in the head, as instructed, while it lurked menacingly in the weeds leading down to a pond.

It wasn't until a second rifle shot bounced off the reptile's head that the officers realized they had mortally wounded a concrete lawn ornament.

A resident of a subdivision near the pond called police Saturday evening to report that his children spotted the alligator while they were playing in some nearby woods.

After consulting a conservation agent, who told them to kill the gator if they felt it posed a danger, one of the officers shot it twice in the head before realizing something was up, said Tom Gentry, an Independence police spokesman.

“It didn't move,” Gentry said. “They inched up closer and closer and discovered it was a mock-up of a real alligator made to look like it was real.”

In the officers' defense, it was growing dark when they shot the fake gator and it was partially submerged in the weeds.

The property owner told police that the gator was meant to keep people off his property, Gentry said. Officers told him a no-trespassing sign would have been wiser.

“Now he'll have to patch up his alligator,” Gentry said.

Conservation agent Derek Cole said the department has received calls in the past about alligators that had been set free in populated areas, so there was no reason to believe the Saturday sighting wasn't valid.

“The department doesn't get involved in something like that,” Cole said. “They asked if they could go ahead and dispatch it if it was a danger, and I said there's a kill shot on alligators, a small kill shot on the head. I said if they can get a shot like that, go ahead.”

Man shot by police won’t be retried

Prosecutors have dismissed assault charges against a man shot by Spokane Valley police in 2009. A jury was split 6-6 after Michael E. Young's trial last March in Spokane County Superior Court.

Prosecutors decided not to pursue another trial, and Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson dismissed two counts of second-degree assault against Young this week.

Young's lawyer, James Kirkham, called the move “the correct result.”  He said Young is still recovering from his injuries.

“All along he's maintained that he didn't do anything wrong,” Krikham said.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

Young had reportedly threatened to kill himself and was armed with a .40-caliber Glock. The charges alleged Young pointed a gun at the officers before he was shot.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman received life-saving awards for their work on Young after he was shot, but a review of the shooting by sheriff's officials criticized the move.

“Was it possible their rapid response saved the suspect's life? Possibly,” according to a report by Pat Knight, the sheriff's lead firearms instructor. “But rushing up to someone who was armed and just fell to the ground is dangerous…The deputies could have stayed in position and assessed the situation for a short period of time before making the approach to ensure their safety.”

Golman is credited with helping control Young's bleeding; Loucks established an airway to keep Young breathing, according to a sheriff's office report.

Sheriff's officials recommended reiteration training on how to respond to injured suspects and to “continue to reinforce the concept of 'shoot until the threats ceases to exist.'”

500-pound pig Tasered, shot in Valley

A 500-pound pig was shot to death by a Washington State Patrol trooper in Spokane Valley this afternoon after escaping a van and absorbing several Taser shocks.

Trooper Morgan Mehaffey saw the pig running down the sidewalk near North Pines Road and East Mission Avenue after spotting a van driving erratically with its back window broken out.

Read the rest of my story here.

Judge: Suspect ‘lucky he wasn’t shot’

A 20-year-old man who sped through downtown Spokane to escape arrest also avoided being shocked with a Taser in a wild chase that nearly led to police gunfire late Tuesday, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Andre R. Hallman was “told he would be shot” if he continued to refuse orders from Trooper R. Hill after speeding through downtown at 60 to 70 mph about 8:50 p.m. and exiting his car at 1921 W. Pacific Ave., according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police say Hallman was trying to open the trunk of his car after repeated orders from Hill to show his hands. He stood up and showed his hands after Hill warned of gunfire, but he refused to lay flat on the ground and ran from Hill when a Taser misfired.

The Taser missed again as Hallman ran onto Pacific Avenue, police said. He was arrested about three blocks away.

“He was lucky he wasn't shot, frankly,” Superior Court Judge Michael Price said at Hallman's first court appearance Wednesday.

Price said the eluding case was “just extraordinary” and called Hallman “a menace to the community” before imposing $25,000 bond.

Three female passengers, ages 18, 17 and 15, were not arrested. Hallman's aunt said he took the car from her without her permission.

Police found an unloaded 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun in the trunk. Hallman is a convicted felon, which means he's prohibited from possessing firearms.

He also had a warrant for first-degree robbery from last October. He was booked on that charge and new charges of attempting to elude police. Charges for the shotgun are pending.

Hillyard police shooting ruled justified

Two Spokane police officers were justified when they shot a man who was pointing a gun at another man outside a Hillyard bar last December, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday. 

Cpl. Zachary Storment and Officer Christopher Douville will not be charged for the shooting, which killed Jeremy Groom, 34, on Dec. 4. 

Storment and Douville arrived outside the Special K Tavern, 3817 N. Market St., to see Groom pointing a gun at a man who turned out to be his best friend.

Douville ordered Groom to drop his pistol and shot him when he did not, Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release Tuesday. Reagan is the spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation.

Storment said he didn’t believe he had time to order Groom to drop the gun. He feared Groom would shoot the other man instead of dropping the gun, so he also shot Groom, Reagan said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Friends question Hillyard police shooting

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