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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Spokane Police Department

Police reform meeting canceled/rescheduled

A previously scheduled meeting to discuss Spokane police reform and an update of its progress was canceled on Monday afternoon due to an absent chief of Police.

Due to a scheduling conflict, chief of Police Frank Straub was unable to attend the Public Safety Committee and members of Spokane City Council voted to reschedule the meeting for a tentative date next week.

They were slated to discuss progress in the city’s reform outlined earlier this year. A resolution was passed by city council on Feb. 6, to improve oversight, community involvement, training, and service through specific goals like developing a body camera program, discipline matrix, more civilian oversight, etc.


Documents:

Burglar targets bereaved

Spokane Police detectives say a man may have targeted the home of a burglary victim because of an online obituary, entering when he believed she would be gone.

The burglar’s haul included multiple firearms, antiques, and the victim’s dead husband’s wedding ring. The crime occurred Sept. 22 on the 2800 block of West Lyons.

On Oct. 24, Detective Lonnie Tofsrud, with SPD’s Targeted Crimes Unit, arrested 27-year-old Michael Sisneros after Sisneros allegedly sold one of the stolen firearms, a .22-caliber gun, to Joseph Travis Sizemore.

Sizemore, 33, was arrested Oct. 4 after allegedly fleeing the scene of a crash that occurred near Monroe Street and Boone Avenue and leading police a short pursuit.

After police caught up to Sizemore, a convicted felon, they found a .22-caliber bullet, a .22-caliber revolver and methamphetamine. Follow-up investigation revealed the firearm was stolen from the West Lyons burglary.

Sisneros was booked into Spokane County Jail Wednesday on unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and trafficking in stolen property.

While they have nabbed the alleged thieves, police have yet to track down the wedding band and the other stolen items and are asking for the public’s help locating the items. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233. 

Items taken in burglaries tend to move quickly through the black market and are often difficult to track down, SPD crime analyst Tom Michaud said. Police encourage people to write down serial numbers and take pictures of valuables to help police locate them if they are stolen.

Police: Beware of panhandlers

Spokane police arrested a panhandler Thursday afternoon after discovering he had a stolen car.

A man left a vehicle parked near the Office Depot by Wellesley Avenue and Division Street and proceeded to the intersection with a cardboard sign to panhandle, according to a Spokane Police Department news release.

Officers discovered the car had been reported stolen from the South Hill area two days ago and arrested Alex D. Treadway, 30, as he returned to the vehicle after collecting money from a number of motorists.

Treadway was booked into Spokane County Jail for possession of a stolen vehicle. He is a convicted felon with numerous Spokane-area arrests, including felon in possession of a firearm, armed burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and theft, according to police.

“Consider carefully who you might be rolling your window for,” police Spokesman Sgt. Jason Hartman said in the news release.

“The Spokane Police Department wants to remind the public that a multitude of government and charitable services exist, especially downtown, to assist people with food, shelter and medical needs,” Hartman said. “Members of the department are aware of numerous instances where panhandled donations have not gone for the stated purpose.”

The Spokane City Council passed an ordinance in August banning panhandlers in certain areas from reaching into the street to take money from drivers.

The affected area is south of Boone Avenue, west of Hamilton Street, north of Seventh Avenue and east of the Maple-Ash corridor on major arterials, including state highway routes. It also includes interchanges along the entire Interstate 90 corridor inside the city of Spokane.

Attorney blasts McGill probe

Were detectives just doing their job or did they go too far?

A Spokane attorney has accused detectives of misrepresenting facts surrounding a homicide investigation in order to obtain permission to search the belongings of the victim's daughter.

Recently unsealed court documents show Spokane police detectives seeking search warrants told a judge the daughter, Billie McKinney, 25, was an uncooperative witness who hindered the investigation into the May stabbing death of her mother, Sharlotte McGill.

She has since been cleared of any involvement.

Jeffry Finer, who is representing McKinney, released a statement Wednesday stating he would seek an explanation of the alleged misstatements from authorities, but did not specify what those misstatements were.

Authorities were looking into a possible connection between McKinney and 20-year-old Steven Lewis, who matches the physical description given by McGill just before she died. Lewis was dating the mother of troubled teenager Avondre Graham, 17, who now faces charges for McGill's murder and two separate assaults.

Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said detectives have a duty to look at anyone close to the investigation.

The story surrounding the recently released documents is sparking a lively discussion in the comment section.

Read more here.

Man assaulted for bashing the Dallas Cowboys

A man was hospitalized earlier this month after allegedly being the target of football rage at a downtown Spokane bar.

On Oct. 2 at 3:06 a.m., police took a report from the victim at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. He said he was assaulted by numerous men outside the Monterey Cafe located at 9 N. Washington Street.

Police said the victim was targeted for disparaging the Dallas Cowboys.

There was a football game televised the night prior. On Oct. 1, the Cowboys played the Chicago Bears and lost 34-18.

The condition of the victim is unknown at this time.

Rehired SPD detective gets apology, $350k

City leaders have apologized to a police detective fired last year for what officials described as a “troubled work history.”

The Spokane City Council voted 5-1 on Monday to approve a $350,000 settlement with Detective Jeff Harvey, who was rehired earlier this year.

The settlement stipulates that Harvey will not be disciplined for the episode that led to his termination.

Harvey argued that then-Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick fired him in retaliation for his leadership of the Spokane Police Guild. But city officials at the time said the last straw was an alleged confrontation he had with a state Fish and Wildlife officer who had pulled him over on suspicion of violating hunting laws.

Here's a link to the full story by SR reporter Jonathan Brunt.

Police find man sought for homicide questioning

A suspected drug dealer sought for questioning in the Sept. 13 shooting death of a Yakima man found dead in a downtown Spokane motel parking lot has been captured.

Kevin Heaton, 35, was taken into custody Friday at a small apartment complex in the tiny town of Metaline Falls near the Canadian border, according to the Spokane Police Department. Federal agents and the Metaline Falls town marshal assisted Spokane police in the apprehension.

Heaton was taken into custody without incident on an unrelated felony drug warrant. “They were looking to talk to him about his possible involvement on that Days Inn homicide,” said Spokane police spokeswoman Jennifer DeRuwe.

On Sept. 13, police responded to shots fired at the Days Inn hotel at 120 W. Third Ave. and found Paul A. Haney, 33, of Yakima, in the parking lot, dead from gunshot wounds.

Detectives searched three hotel rooms and found additional weapons and methamphetamine, according to a previously released statement from police.

Heaton’s record includes an April arrest for his alleged role in a burglary ring. Police found large amounts of stolen goods, including motorcycles and guns, and seized about 3  1/2 pounds of meth and marijuana in the case, which included six other arrests.

SPD looking for reserve officers

Can you do at least 21 pushups? Sprint 300 meters in 71 seconds or less? Run a mile-and-a-half in under 14:31? What about 30 situps in under a minute?

If so, you may be eligible for the Spokane Police Department's reserve officer program.

The department is looking to bolster its reserve force and urging those interested in serving as voluteers to explore opportunities at SPD. Reserve officers, once they've completed training, carry full police commissions while on duty and are paired up with full-time officers to help augment available resources.

Reserve officers must be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED with at least a 2.0 grade-point average, a valid driver's license with no suspensions in the past five years. They must commit to a 15-week training academy that meets three nights a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) plus eight hours on Saturdays, and serve at least 20 hours a month on the job once commissioned.

Upcoming physical agility tests are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sept. 30, 5 p.m. on Oct. 3 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 5. Those who pass the physical agility tests are invited to proceed with the next step in the application process, which includes polygraph and background investigations.

Here's a link to SPD's Reserve Officer Program web page. Information also is available by contacting the department's Volunteer Services Unit at (509) 363-8283 or (509) 363-8281.

Straub promises innovation for SPD

Spokane Mayor David Condon made it official Wednesday, naming former Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub as his choice to take over leadership of the city's scandal-scarred police force. The appointment requires City Council confirmation, which could take up to a month to bring to a vote, but a majority already have indicated their support for the pick.

Straub brings an interesting background to Spokane. He's served in a various law enforcement capacities at the federal, state and local levels. His experience includes spearheading corruption investigations as a special agent with the U.S. Justice Department to helping craft strategies for improving community trust in law enforcement while overseeing public safety services in the upscale New York City suburb of White Plains. And while he held a key role in developing anti-terrorism training for the New York Police Department in the months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and has led dignitary protection teams for the U.S. foreign service, Straub has never worked as a patrol officer in a local law enforcement agency.

The lack of street cop experience is a common criticism among Straub's detractors, of which he has many. An article on the Indianapolis Star newspaper's online site about Condon's announcement Wednesday quickly filled up with comments from readers happy to see him go.

In case you missed The SR's coverage of Straub's selection, you can find Wednesday's print edition version of the story here.

Photos show gunpoint 7-Eleven robbery

A reward is being offered for tips that help identify a man who robbed a Spokane convenience store at gunpoint early Saturday.

Surveillance photos released today show the man pointing a gun at a clerk at 7-Eleven, 1425 N. Maple St., about 4:30 a.m.

The robber is described as 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds, and in his late 20s or early 30s.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to leave their name to collect a reward but should lave a code name or number.

Piranhas, alligator seized on South Hill

Piranhas and a small alligator were seized from a South Hill apartment on Friday. (submitted photos)

Piranhas offered for trade on Craigslist led state fish and game agents to seize several of the exotic, human-eating fish from an apartment on Spokane’s lower South Hill.

 The rare find took another surprising twist when agents also found a small alligator in Christopher Ryan Harper’s apartment at 1206 W. 6th Ave. on Friday, as well as a suspected marijuana-selling operation, police say.

The alligator is being cared for at SpokAnimal, the piranhas were killed and taken as evidence, said Madonna Luers, spokeswoman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Luers said she couldn’t confirm the number of piranhas seized. Police said 20, but Harper said he only had six.

Read the rest of my story here.

Woman crashes stolen car into house

Police released this photo of the crash at North Pittsburg Street and East Wabash Avenue Wednesday.

A woman being pursued by police crashed a stolen car into a house in north Spokane Wednesday then tried to hide in a stranger's garage, police say.

Kristina M. Groce, 21, ran from the crash at 4906 N. Pittsburg St. and entered a home at 1711 E. Wabash Ave., uninvited, asked to use the phone and told the homeowner not to call police, according to court documents.

Officer Dan Cole tried to stop Groce after realizing the 2003 Toyota Celica she was driving was stolen. Cole said Groce drove over 60 mph and ran a stop sign at Wabash and North Nevada Street before crashing into the home.

“Luckily no children were in the yard,” police wrote on Facebook.

The car's owner was at a laundromat earlier that day when someone grabbed his keys and stole his it, police say.

Groce was booked into jail for possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempting to elude police.

Photos show assault suspect; ID sought

Police are trying to identify a suspect in a Fourth of July assault that left a man beaten and burned at his makeshift camp near High Bridge Park.

  Surveillance photos show the victim at the Sunset Grocery with a young man police believe may have attacked him.

Spokane police officers contacted the victim at a hospital about 8 a.m. and learned he had been severely beaten and burned sometime during the night at his camp in a large gravel and grass pasture near Sunset Boulevard and Government Way.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

2 charged in attempted carjacking

Two suspected car thieves tried to steal a vehicle from a stranger outside a north Spokane restaurant, police say.

 Bennie Lee Carson, 31, and Charles A. Nickens, 27, followed the man north on North Division Street and confronted him when he pulled into the McDonald's parking lot at Division and East Heroy Avenue about 7:15 a.m. on June 27, according to police.

The victim said one of the men reached into his waistband as he approached and made it appear as though he had a firearm. The other man told the victim “he liked his rims and wanted his keys so he could drive his car.”

Wright refused and “aggressively walked past” the men and into McDonald's, where he called police. A friend who was to meet the victim at the McDonald's that morning witnessed the incident an through the men were perhaps confronting him over a driving dispute.

The victim's friend is an Avista meter reader who said he considered using his “dog stick” meter reader to stop an assault should it occur, according to court documents.

Police found the car in the Shadle Park Wal-Mart later that day. One of the occupants said she got the car from a man named Bennie, “a car thief who steals and traffics in stolen vehicles,” police wrote.

Carson and Nickens were charged last week with second-degree robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle - police say they car they followed the victim in was stolen.

Carson also faces possession of stolen motor vehicle charges for cars found at his home at 2415 E. 1st Ave., where police believes he strips stolen vehicles, in June when police responded to a report that he was assaulting his girlfriend. The home also was the target of a SWAT team heroin bust in March.

Carson was arrested on car theft charges July 1. Nickens also was arrested last month and has been in jail since. Prosecutors filed charges for the attempted robbery on Aug. 2.

Edwards arrestee appeals sentence

A Spokane methamphetamine dealer ordered to spend 15 years in federal prison is trying to get his sentence overturned, in part because it was investigated by a now-fired Spokane police officer.

David Brian Hill’s request is the latest twist in an investigation into potentially questionable partnerships between Spokane County law enforcement officers and local bail bondsmen and bounty hunters.

The investigation restarted earlier this year, and two Washington State Patrol employees, Dave Bolton and Jeff Thoet, spent six weeks on paid leave amid possible criminal allegations. The two returned to work late last month, but the investigation into their work with unlicensed bounty hunter Dennis Kariores is ongoing.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Jan 29: Officer's ruse with bounty hunter, fugitive led to suspension

Police chief candidates down to two

Mayor David Condon said Wednesday that he is “very confident” one of two remaining finalists will be the next Spokane police chief, despite a law enforcement panel’s recommendation that he restart the search.

Either Daniel Mahoney, the commanding officer of the Ingleside Police Station within the San Francisco Police Department, or Frank Straub, director of public safety in Indianapolis, will be the city’s next top cop.

Read the rest of my story here.

July 26: Read a summary of the candidates' interviews last week here.

Jury: Man groped Moody bible student

A man who sexually assaulted a 19-year-old Moody Bible Institute student at Mission Park in March has been convicted of a sex offense.

A Spokane County jury deliberated for about an hour and a half Tuesday before convicting John L. Sanders of indecent liberties.

Sanders faces five years to life in prison when he's sentenced Sept. 11, said Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson. Intern Amanda Tufts served as co-counsel with Johnson.

Sanders, 41, will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Sanders, who was represented by public defender John Whaley, was arrested March 16 after a bible school student told police she'd walked to the park to relieve stress and saw someone trying to get her attention. She was not wearing glasses and “assumed it was someone from her acting class or her church,” according to court documents.

When she realized she didn't know the man, the woman said “she felt she might have an opportunity to minister” to him, according to documents.

Sanders then touched her breast and asked her to smoke marijuana with him, she told police. The woman tried to leave, but Sanders kissed her on the lips, grabbed her and made inappropriate comments and noises.

Two female officers arrested Sanders and say he repeatedly made kissing sounds at them and asked them have sex with him.

Police say Sanders was arrested for a similar incident in downtown Spokane in August 2011 for which he pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault. Sanders also has three convictions for second-degree theft.

Superior Court Judge Kathleen O'Connor presided over Sanders' trial this week.

Pepper-spray attack suspect leaves jail

A Spokane woman accused of attacking an elderly woman with pepper spray in a North Side parking lot is out of jail on $2,000 bail.

Sherri L. Bester, alias Schlosser, 49, is accused of third-degree assault for an incident outside Home Depot, 9116 N. Newport Highway Sunday about 4 p.m.

Witnesses told Spokane police the attack was awful and unprovoked. “She was in so much pain,” according to court documents.

The victim told police Bester confronted her and called her husband a “jackass” for the way he parked. The woman told Bester “not to talk to her husband that way and that he is 82 years old.”

Bester told the couple they should not have their drivers license, then pepper sprayed the woman as the woman turned to walk into the store. The woman was temporarily blinded by the pepper spray and an extreme pain.

Police contacted Bester at her home about  8:15 p.m. Bester told an officer the woman “was asking for it” and that she used the pepper spray in self defense. Bester said the woman started it by the way her husband parked, according to court documents.

Bester, who has no serious criminal record, is to be arraigned Aug. 8. She left jail on Monday after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court.

Victim says sexuality prompted attack

A knife assault that nearly killed a man early Saturday began after the victim described himself as gay, according to Spokane police.

The 28-year-old victim was drinking with a friend at a home in the 400 block of South Fiske Street when a man approached them on the porch and began talking. The victim said he was gay, “and an argument ensued about him being gay,” accordeing to court documents.

The victim said the man, identified by police as Jesse D. Bell, 21, calmed down, and they talked for about 45 minutes, but Bell again got angry and a fight ensued.

Bell walked away, and the man realized he’d been stabbed and his friend was cut on her hand. Another man also sustained a small stab wound.

Police contacted Bell, and he told them he’d told the man he would stab him if he did not get off of him as they were fighting. He said he thought he stabbed the man once but was unaware he’d stabbed anyone else.

Bell was arrested for first-degree assault. He remains in jail on $100,000 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court on Monday.

The victim was treated for stab wounds to his torso, back and arm, including one that punctured his right lung. His heart stopped beating at the hospital but emergency room staff revived him.

Memorial today for cop killed in bike crash

A memorial service for a Spokane police officer killed in an off-duty motorcycle crash is set to begin at 10 a.m. in Post Falls.

The memorial for Kurt Henson, 47, is not open to the media.

Henson died July 24 at the scene of a crash near Clark Fork on Highway 200 in North Idaho.

Henson and a passenger, 43-year-old Kimberly Lenox of Post Falls, were thrown from the motorcycle Henson was driving after he struck an abrupt edge in a construction zone. They were hit by a 2001 Dodge 1500 pickup, which fled the scene.

The suspected driver, Brianna Knapp, 28, has been jailed on felony charges.

“The officer was very well-liked and very well-respected here in the police department,” Stephens said in a previous news article. “His loss will be a tremendous loss, not only to this department, but to his family, to his friends and to this community that he chose to serve.

“I know I speak for all the officers when I say he will be terribly missed.”

Henson was not wearing a helmet. He was described as an avid and experienced motorcyclist who joined the SPD after leaving the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department in 2000. He worked with the motorcycle unit from 2002 to 2005. Most recently, he worked on overnight patrol and instructed officers at the department’s Emergency Vehicle Operations Course.
  

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