Prosecutor Jim Sweetser will seek help from colleagues throughout the state in deciding whether Police Chief Terry Mangan committed a crime in his armed confrontation with three Spokane men last month.
Sweetser said Thursday he intends to ask for advice from three or four prosecutors in other Washington counties. He did not identify the attorneys.
Sweetser said he wants some independent, outside review of the matter. He also will ask some of his deputies for their opinions.
“I want this conducted in an objective, professional way,” he said.
But Sweetser said the final call will be his. “I was elected to make these decisions. I’m taking this seriously. Nobody is above the law.”
The Sheriff’s Department, city manager’s office and police internal affairs unit started investigations last month after Mangan, armed with a shotgun, confronted three members of a citizens’ band radio club outside his rural Spokane Valley home.
The men were sitting in a truck March 8 waiting for other members of the club to find them by tracking their radio signal in a hide-and-seek game played by club members.
Two of the men - Bruce Rakowski and Bill Nelson - said Mangan cursed and threatened to shoot them.
Rakowski also accused the chief of hitting him with the gun barrels and kicking him in the leg.
Mangan admitted confronting the men but said he never hit or kicked Rakowski or threatened the trio. He said he feared they might attack his wife, who was due home at any time.
Mangan, who was off duty, said he didn’t call 911 for help because he didn’t think sheriff’s deputies would arrive before his wife did.
Sheriff’s Capt. Don Manning said his detectives wrapped up their investigation Thursday and sent a report to Sheriff John Goldman.
Goldman will review the report then send it to Sweetser, Manning said. The sheriff was in meetings most of Thursday and unavailable for comment.
Sweetser said he will make his review of the findings a top priority.
But a decision on whether to charge Mangan with a crime is probably weeks off, said Sweetser, who added the timing depends on the other prosecutors. “They may not drop everything to meet my needs,” he said.
That is likely to delay City Manager Roger Crum’s inquiry into the incident.
Crum, who is Mangan’s supervisor, has said he would wait to see what Sweetser does before moving forward with his own investigation.
If there are no criminal charges, the incident will be addressed as a personnel issue, Crum said.
Meanwhile, the police internal affairs investigation is continuing. Investigators questioned Rakowski and Nelson about the incident for the first time this week.
Police said they had trouble contacting the two CB club members because they did not return letters sent to them or their attorney requesting a meeting.
Sweetser refused to speculate about what Mangan could be charged with, but ruled out intimidation with a weapon.
Commissioned law enforcement officers are exempt from prosecution under that law, he said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo
Click here to comment on this story »