Tavern At Center Of Bizarre Incidents One Man Killed; Police Officers Cornered By Angry Mob Of Patrons
A tavern may lose its license and two customers may lose their freedom because of incidents last fall that left a man dead and caused police officers to fear for their safety.
The state Liquor Board wants to revoke the Twin Lakes Tavern’s license for a Sept. 24 incident in which an angry mob of tavern patrons cornered a pair of tribal police officers in the parking lot.
The board also may penalize the tavern for a bizarre Oct. 30 incident that cost tavern patron Donald Louie his car and then his life.
Relatives of Louie say they are contemplating legal action against the tavern.
The tavern licensee, James R. Finley, could not be reached for comment Monday. His grandmother and landlord, Leona Seastrom, would say only that the Liquor Board charges “weren’t right” and agency officials “have been harassing the hell out of us.”
If the Twin Lakes loses its license, there will be no tavern left in the Ferry County portion of the Colville Indian Reservation.
The Keller Tavern in Keller, Wash., which was implicated in a traffic accident that killed two people, has been closed since last summer. Owner John Ojeda surrendered his tavern license to escape criminal prosecution in another alcohol-related traffic accident.
Meanwhile, Ferry County Prosecutor Allen Nielson wants Inchelium resident Richard Signor, 23, to be jailed while he awaits a May 17 trial on a charge of vehicular homicide in the Oct. 30 death of Donald Louie, 38, also of Inchelium.
In a hearing next Tuesday, Nielson will ask Superior Court Judge Fred Stewart to send Signor to jail without bail on grounds that Signor violated terms of his pre-trial release by driving when he wasn’t supposed to and drinking.
Signor is accused of running over Louie after Louie and his 14-year-old son, Doni van, asked Signor to let them out of his pickup because his driving scared them. Donivan Louie said Signor, who had been drinking and was driving all over the road, drove away and returned a few minutes later.
The boy told authorities he saw the truck veering toward them but couldn’t get his father, who also had been drinking, off the road before Signor struck him.
Court records show Signor was still drunk four hours and 45 minutes after the accident, when his bloodalcohol level was 0.14 percent. The legal threshold for intoxication is 0.10. A state toxicologist estimated Signor’s alcohol was between 0.17 and 0.20 when Louie was struck.
Donivan Louie told authorities he and his father accepted a ride from Signor after three men beat his father and took his car.
One of the alleged attackers, Jason A. Lelone, 21, is to be arraigned next Tuesday in Ferry County Superior Court on a charge of first-degree extortion. Lelone is accused of forcing Donald Louie to give his car to Lelone after Louie damaged Lelone’s car.
Court documents indicate Louie and Lelone were drinking in the parking lot at the Twin Lakes Tavern, about seven miles west of Inchelium on Bridge Creek Road, when Louie challenged Lelone to a race. Louie spun out of the parking lot, spraying gravel that cracked Lelone’s windshield.
Lelone and two friends gave chase and eventually blocked the road and forced the Louies out of their car. Donivan Louie said the men beat him and his father and demanded $500.
Then, Donivan Louie said, the entire group returned to the Twin Lakes parking lot and drank some more. He said his father gave Lelone his car in lieu of the $500 after Lelone and his friends threatened to resume the beating.
The Liquor Board contends the tavern violated state liquor laws by allowing Louie and the others to take open containers of beer from the tavern to the parking lot.
The board already was moving to cancel the tavern’s license on grounds that license holder James Finley and tavern employees were “disorderly and/or boisterous” on Sept. 24.
Fred Brown, deputy police chief for the Colville Confederated Tribes, said Finley and others attempted to prevent the arrest of a woman at the tavern. Brown said the woman, Jeanette Finley, called for help from tavern patrons and an angry crowd backed three officers into a corner of the parking lot.
“They felt very intimidated by the crowd,” Brown said.
The officers resumed their effort to arrest Jeanette Finley after reinforcements arrived, Brown said.
At that point, Prosecutor Nielson said in a court document, Cheryl A. Williams, 34, tried to intervene. Nielson said she struck tribal Officer Bill Floyd in the chest and shoulder and, when Floyd attempted to arrest Williams, she kicked him in the groin.
Williams pleaded guilty to obstruction of a law-enforcement officer and was sentenced to 15 days in jail, with 14 suspended, and $610 in fines.