Spin Control

WA Lege Day 101: Cop killer at bill signing?

Biker bill: Washington Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, dressed in his riding leathers, leans in Wednesday to see Gov. Chris Gregoire sign a bill to ban motorcycle profiling in the state. (Jim Camden)
Biker bill: Washington Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, dressed in his riding leathers, leans in Wednesday to see Gov. Chris Gregoire sign a bill to ban motorcycle profiling in the state. (Jim Camden)

OLYMPIA – One of the people gathered around the table as Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill outlawing “motorcycle profiling” last week may have been a member of an outlaw motorcycle gang who once killed a Portland police officer.
The above photo of the event above, first published in The Spokesman-Review, has law enforcement officials studying the faces and patches on some motorcyclists who applauded as the bill was signed and posed with Gregoire and several legislators.
KIRO News radio in Seattle reported Wednesday that its law enforcement sources identified one of the bikers as Robert Christopher, who was convicted of killing a Portland police officer during a raid on the Outsiders’ motorcycle club’s headquarters in 1979. Christopher is the third in from the left, KIRO law enforcement sources said.(For more on Christopher, check out Austin Jenkin's piece from Northwest Public Radio.)

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Gregoire said she didn’t invite the bikers, some of whom sported insignia for outlaw biker gangs or patches that say they are willing to engage in illegal activity. Her office usually just invites legislators who sponsor successful bills, but signings are open to the public.
“We don’t screen folks. We don’t check folks,” she said Wednesday after another session of bill signings.
Originally charged with murder, Christopher was convicted of manslaughter after testifying that he didn’t know plainclothes Officer David Crowther was a police officer when Crowther came through the door. Christopher’s conviction was later overturned when an investigation revealed police had lied to obtain a warrant and lied during the trial, and the judge said the case was so tainted Christopher couldn’t be retried.
Gregoire said she’d been told that police “didn’t like the fact that (Christopher) was here.”
The Washington State Patrol, which provides security for the governor and the Capitol, was present during the bill signing. Gregoire said she sees no reason to change procedures for bill signings.
“If I let Mr. Initiative (Tim Eyman) in here, and all his antics, I’m not going to change the screening process,” she said.
Eyman was in attendance, and held his nose, during the signing of a bill last year that suspended an initiative requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. When Gregoire told him to behave, he replied he was: “This is my self-control.”




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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