ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Spin Control

WA Lege Day 19: Shedding light on officer-involved deaths

 OLYMPIA – Medical examiners would be able to discuss the results of autopsies in case involving police shootings, giving them a chance to clear up what Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich refers to as “misinformation and myths” in some controversial cases, under a bill being considered by the Senate.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is designed to lift some confidentiality restrictions on autopsy reports when a death occurs in the custody of a law enforcement officer or during police contact.

Confidentiality restrictions, which under state law cover most autopsy and post-mortem investigation reports, also would be lifted for deaths that occur in a prison or jail.

If the proposed law were in effect, Knezovich said he’d be able to explain details of cases like the Sept. 5 death of Edward Gover . . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog.


… who returned to a home of a woman he’d held hostage and encountered deputies who thought he had a knife. They said the fired when he charged them, but no knife was found and two of the bullets struck Gover in the back.

Knezovich said the deputies responded appropriately, but couldn’t discuss the autopsy findings because of orders from the county medical examiner’s office.

The bill wasn’t prompted by the shooting, Knezovich said, but it would allow him to explain key details of the Gover case. He discussed changes with Medical Examiner John Howard, county commissioners and Padden during the summer.

“The public is interested in what is going on” in deaths that involve police activities, Padden said. In some counties, a coroner or medical examiner will hold an inquest to help answer questions about the death, but in others, including Spokane County, medical examiners don’t hold inquests.

James McMahan, executive director for the state’s county officials organization, told the Senate Law and Justice Committee the original bill Padden introduced was too broad, but suggested some changes that he thought the group would support.

It would add a section to the law that nothing “shall prohibit a coroner or medical examiner from discussing his or her conclusions as to the cause, manner or mechanism of death” in cases involving law enforcement action or deaths in prisons.

The committee is scheduled to vote on a revised version of the bill on Tuesday.


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Spin Control

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Spin Control.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here