Shannon Sullivan, who led a successful recall of the late Spokane Mayor Jim West in 2005, has a new target: Spokane County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Tucker.
Sullivan said Thursday she plans to file recall charges today accusing Tucker of malfeasance, misfeasance and violation of his oath of office, citing primarily his reluctance to intervene in cases of police misconduct.
Sullivan said she strongly believes in holding public officials accountable. She showed it in her gutsy, high-profile campaign that unseated West.
“This is a recall about Tucker not doing his job,” she said.
Tucker is out of the country and unavailable for comment, according to his office.
The recall charges cite several controversial positions by Tucker, including his decision not to file criminal charges in the police beating and death of janitor Otto Zehm in 2006 at a North Division Street convenience store. The U.S. Justice Department on Nov. 2 persuaded a federal jury to convict Spokane police Officer Karl Thompson of excessive use of force and lying to cover up the crime.
The charges allege that Zehm’s death resulted in “a well-planned and blatant cover up by public officials of a police-involved homicide.”
Three other charges are also being leveled against Tucker.
Sullivan alleges in the document that Tucker has made at least one statement during a public appearance that he would never prosecute a police officer or public employee.
Sullivan said in the charges that it appears Tucker “basically told a group of his potential supporters that they would be immune from prosecution.”
Sullivan also alleges malfeasance in Tucker’s failure to prosecute former Spokane firefighter Dan Ross following Ross’ sexual encounter with a 16-year-old girl in a city firehouse. During the incident, Ross took photos of the partially naked girl, but the photos were not retained by detectives.
The incident was initially reported as a rape by the girl’s boyfriend.
Tucker also has given a plea-bargain deal to a man facing seven counts of first-degree assault for firing shots into a Spokane home two years ago, narrowly missing two sleeping toddlers. Tucker is seeking to reduce the charges to two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment in exchange for a guilty plea, but the judge in the case has so far refused to accept the plea.
After Sullivan files the charges with the county auditor, a ballot synopsis would be written by a state attorney general. Within 15 days of the filing, a Superior Court judge would have to find the charges sufficient to send the petition out for signature gathering.
Sullivan said she collaborated with a number of supporters in drafting the charges.
Auditor Vicky Dalton said the recall would need more than 42,700 signatures of registered county voters to force a countywide election, which could force Tucker from office.
The petitioners would have a little more than six months to gather signatures if the court approves the synopsis, not counting time for a possible appeal of the charges by Tucker.
In a prepared statement, Sullivan said that Tucker “has abused his office consistently, disrespecting the public with his deceitful manipulations of facts and evidence.”
“He has enjoyed a free hand to engage in corrupt activity, collecting only evidence that is favorable to his own self-serving position.”
The recall of West in 2005 followed a series of investigative reports in The Spokesman-Review that detailed West’s offers of gifts or city positions in exchange for sex to young men he had met online.
West died in 2006 after battling cancer for several years. His death came from complications following surgery.