October 8, 2010 in City

Police shooting scene examined again

Spokane man pleads not guilty to assault charge
By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane man shot by sheriff’s deputies two weeks ago pleaded not guilty to a single assault charge this week as investigators examined his medical records and searched the shooting scene for the second time.

Sean P. Houlihan, 37, is charged with first-degree assault after a friend said he fired a gun at him on Sept. 16 during an argument in the basement of Houlihan’s home at 909 E. Brentwood Drive.

Sheriff’s deputies David Westlake and Thad Schultz fired several shots at Houlihan, striking him twice, after he returned to the home in his Dodge pickup.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said last week that Westlake has always said Houlihan fired no shots but Schultz believed Houlihan did fire shots. Investigators have said Houlihan faces two additional assault charges related to the confrontation with Schultz and Westlake, but prosecutors have not filed them.

“They are telling me the investigation is ongoing,” Houlihan’s lawyer, Robert Schiffner, said Wednesday. “But I suspect if they had hard evidence they would have charged him yesterday.”

Houlihan pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a single count of first-degree assault. He’s out of jail on $75,000 bond.

Lester J. Doyle, who had argued with Houlihan earlier in the night, said the deputies were in the doorway of the home when they twice ordered Houlihan to put his hands in the air.

Doyle heard three shots but doesn’t believe they came from the deputies “because (Doyle) was looking at the deputies when he heard the shots,” according to a search warrant.

Doyle, 33, said he heard Houlihan say “Oh, I’m hit. I’m down. I’m not doing anything,” according to the warrant, which was used to examine the shooting scene again Monday.

Investigators already recovered a .40-caliber handgun from the street near where Houlihan fell. They recovered a .40-caliber casing from the bed of the truck but have found no other casings. The state crime lab already has several bullets and fragments that were found next to the truck and in the truck.

“Immediately after Houlihan was shot, the deputies and medics repeatedly walked through the area where Houlihan was lying,” according to the warrant. “Casings from rounds fired by Houlihan could have easily been stepped on and forced deep into the grass or into the ground.”

Investigators recovered two bullets from the scene Monday.

On Wednesday, they obtained a search warrant for Houlihan’s medical records at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Washington State Patrol Detective Ryan Spangler, the lead investigator, wrote that he was hoping to establish “Houlihan’s position in reference to the Deputies at the time he was shot as it related to the injuries he received.”

Houlihan’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 27, but Schiffner said it likely will be postponed.

“I doubt that the crime lab will have completed its tests by then,” he said.


There are four comments on this story. Click here to view comments >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email