November 20, 2010 in City

Deputy in probe shot dog, spurring lawsuit

Spokane native recounts California incident
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The deputy under investigation for shooting a Spokane Valley pastor was sued in California after he shot the dog of a woman who was performing CPR on her dying husband.

Deputy Brian Hirzel remains under investigation for the Aug. 25 shooting that killed 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach at Creach’s nursery business at 14208 E. Fourth Ave.

Before his 2008 hire date at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Hirzel worked three years as a deputy in Kootenai County and 13 years as a police officer for Cathedral City, Calif. During that time in California, Hirzel was cleared for a fatal application of a chokehold, according to police records.

But the 733-page investigative report from the Creach shooting makes no mention of an incident on May 15, 1997, in Cathedral City.

Eileen Harvey, 80, who was born in Spokane but lived as an adult in California, said that was the day her husband, Ronald, had a massive heart attack.

She called 911 and asked for an ambulance. Hirzel was among the police officers who responded as well. Harvey, who was 67 at the time, stopped CPR and ran to unlock her front door before returning to her husband.

“The next thing I heard was a very loud shot and a loud yelp,” Harvey said. “I didn’t realize for a few seconds that he had shot my dog. I was consumed with trying to save my husband.”

Paramedics took away her husband. Police officers who arrived after Hirzel took away the body of the 9-year-old golden retriever named Duchess.

“When I went out after they took my husband, there was blood all over the wall and floor. It was horrendous,” Harvey said. “Now I was grieving for both of them.”

Harvey, who had rescued the dog from a shelter, sued Cathedral City for $3 million. City officials later settled the case for $10,000, she said.

“It was a very small settlement because I knew the police officers would back each other up and not tell the truth,” Harvey said. Hirzel “said the dog was attacking him. He said he had been bit or threatened two weeks prior to that. He just killed her.”

Harvey said she recently spoke with private investigator Ted Pulver, who has been hired by the Creach family and who traveled to her Palm Desert home to talk about the lawsuit.

Alan Creach, the pastor’s son, said the family has hired a private detective but did not want to comment about the shooting of Harvey’s dog. But Creach had plenty to say about the investigation into his father’s shooting.

“What we are looking at … is a culture clash between law enforcement and culture. Their training says, ‘You hesitate. You die.’ It is in complete conflict with the safety of the citizens in this community,” Creach said. “The whole issue is uninvited, unwanted, unidentified and unconstitutional. Our investigator has rolled out discrepancy after discrepancy.”

Efforts to reach Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich were unsuccessful late Friday.

Harvey, whose Spokane relatives told her about the Creach shooting, said she remembers how Hirzel’s fellow officers in Cathedral City “just backed him up, whatever he said.”

“There was absolutely no reason to kill the dog,” she said. “I hope they put him away for good. It was so ironic that this person killed my dog and killed someone in Spokane, where I was born.”


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