A man who accused Spokane’s police chief of shoving a gun in his face is paranoid about law officers and threatened to sue police in the past, his ex-wife says.
Bruce Rakowski recently claimed police set up a road block in his neighborhood and were searching for him, according to Tammy Koski.
That was at least a week before Chief Terry Mangan confronted Rakowski and two other men outside the chief’s Spokane Valley home.
Koski and Rakowski were divorced in 1991, but lived together afterwards. They separated again in January, after she filed a protection order claiming he physically abused one of their two children.
On at least two occasions, he threatened to sue police officers, she said. One of Rakowski’s former neighbors said he overheard one of the threats, about a year ago, when police were supervising an eviction.
“He went over there and said if they didn’t stop hanging around here, he was going to sue the police department,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Rakowski, a 38-year-old Spokane carpenter, said it’s Koski who exaggerates and imagines things. He said that while he’s been accused of violent crimes - including rape and kidnapping in one 1990 case - he’s never been convicted.
Besides, he said, it’s all irrelevant to his run-in with Mangan. “My past and everything in it has nothing to do with whether or not he put a gun to my head,” Rakowski said.
Mangan didn’t know anything about the three men parked on the public road outside his house when he approached their Chevrolet Blazer with a shotgun about 9 p.m. Friday.
The chief, who didn’t call 911, said he feared they would harm him or his wife, who was due home any time.
Rakowski and his friends were playing an automotive game of hide-and-seek called “bunny hunting” that involves citizens band radios.
After the confrontation, Rakowski and his friends called the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating Mangan’s behavior. Detectives are still interviewing witnesses.
Spokane City Councilman Chris Anderson called Thursday for an investigation by an “entirely independent law enforcement agency.”
He urged City Manager Roger Crum to request an investigation by the Washington State Patrol.
On Monday, Rakowski and one of his companions that night, Bill Nelson, hired an attorney and contacted reporters. They said Mangan pressed the gun’s twin barrels against Rakowski’s neck and threatened to pull the trigger if they didn’t get out of the truck and identify themselves.
“He told me to shut up or you’re dead,” said Rakowski, who has offered to take a lie-detector test.
The chief eventually pointed the gun at each of their heads and continued the threats, the two men said. Their companion, whom they identify only as Mark, has not talked to reporters.
Nelson, 24, stands by Rakowski’s story. Nelson has no convictions as an adult. His record of juvenile crimes is sealed, but he said it includes “a couple of thefts.”
Mangan acknowledges confronting the men, but denies pointing the gun at them or threatening their lives.
Koski, 37, said Rakowski called her a few hours after the confrontation and told the same story he later told reporters. She thinks it’s an exaggeration.
“I just don’t think that Terry Mangan should lose his job because Bruce is demanding attention,” she said.
Koski said she recently reported Rakowski for allegedly taking money from her bank account. Since then, he’s frequently called and “asked if I’ve sent the police after him,” she said. The most recent call was about two weeks ago, when he told her about the South Hill road block.
“I tried to tell him he’s not America’s Most Wanted, that he was obsessing,” she said.
Rakowski said he never claimed he was the target of the roadblock.
In January, Koski said, Rakowski threatened to sue officers who came to their east Spokane home. She told the officers Rakowski had picked up their 6-year-old daughter by her neck and her hair, and they ordered him out of the house for 24 hours.
But Craig Smith, who was in the house as Rakowski was packing his bags, said his friend showed no sign of anger.
“Actually, he was pretty calm,” said Smith, who called Rakowski “a pretty upstanding guy.”
Court documents show problems between the couple date back to at least 1990, when prosecutors in Bonner County, Idaho, charged him with kidnapping, beating and raping Koski. The charges were dropped after Rakowski spent about a month in jail.
One of Rakowski’s former neighbors, Marianne Berglund, described him as “very violent, temperamental and unpredictable” when she sought protection from him in 1994. Her request was denied for reasons not explained in court documents.
Berglund declined to comment Thursday.
Rakowski said Berglund’s request for protection was thrown out because it was baseless. He said that he successfully obtained a restraining order against Berglund’s boyfriend. “That stuff was supposed to have been dead, in the past,” he said.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo