October 22, 2010 in City

Creach family hires forensic expert

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The family of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach said Friday that a key piece of evidence in his death has been compromised – the squad car driven by the Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot him.

Creach’s son, Alan Creach, said the family asked that all evidence in the Aug. 25 shooting be preserved, but officials allowed Deputy Brian Hirzel’s unmarked patrol car to return to service within 24 hours.

The family hired a forensics expert to perform blood and gunshot residue tests on the inside and outside of the car after officials refused to tell them what tests they had conducted, Alan Creach said.

The results detected gunshot residue on the inside of the car but Creach said it’s too late to indicate whether Hirzel was inside his car when he shot Wayne Creach.

“The community needed to see what we have run up against,” Creach said. “Within just a few hours they had already taken one of the largest key pieces of evidence and begun the process of destroying it”

But Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said the car had already been processed for evidence and was no longer necessary for the investigation when it returned to patrol Aug. 27. Creach’s family didn’t request evidence be preserved until Sept. 26.

“Once it’s processed, there’s really nothing left as evidentiary value for our purposes,” Knezovich said. “If they feel the need for an outside investigator to look at evidence, that’s up to them. But you have some very competent people who have done this investigation.”

The shooting was investigated by members of the Spokane Police Department and Washington State Patrol. The investigation has been sent to Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, who said he is awaiting additional forensic tests before making a decision on whether to charge Hirzel, who has returned to work for administrative duties.

Hirzel told investigators he was parked in the lot of Creach’s Spokane Valley nursery business, 14208 E. Fourth Ave., when he saw Creach, 74, approach with a gun. Creach was a checking on a suspected prowler, his family said.

Hirzel said he got out of his car and told Creach to get down on the ground, then struck him with a baton on his knee when he refused. Hirzel said he fired when he saw the butt of Creach’s pistol.

Alan Creach said his father was taking a 325 mg daily dose of aspirin to thin his blood, which caused him to bruise easily. But the autopsy showed no mark on Creach’s knee; no fibers from Creach’s pants were found on Hirzel’s baton and no crush marks were found in Creach’s pants to indicate any type of baton strike.

Alan Creach said Thursday that an autopsy shows his father was shot at a downward, 66-degree angle.

“What the officer says differs dramatically from what the evidence at the scene says,” Creach said.

Knezovich said the FBI has been following the case; he disputed Creach’s claim that investigation has been incomplete.

“I don’t think you can really go there because of the checks and balances that have been put in place to make sure it was a balanced and thorough investigation,” Knezovich said.


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