SPD detective charged with obstructing investigation
A Spokane police detective has been placed on administrative leave after he was charged with obstructing a Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officer.
Detective Jeff Harvey, 46, who is vice president of the Spokane Police Guild, was charged with the misdemeanor offense last week in connection with a January incident in which it’s alleged he “did willfully hinder, delay and obstruct” an investigation into illegal hunting.
Capt. Mike Whorton, of the Region 1 office of the state Fish and Wildlife Police, said he could not comment beyond what was in the report.
“This is one individual. It certainly doesn’t reflect on the professionalism of the Spokane Police Department,” he said. “They are working with us on the case.”
Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said she placed Harvey on paid administrative leave at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We will be thorough and complete in our investigation,” Kirkpatrick said. “He will remain on paid administrative leave for as long as it takes to do the internal investigation. The criminal matter needs to be handled independently of us.”
Harvey could not be reached for comment.
The charge stems from an encounter Harvey had with Fish and Wildlife Officer Dave Spurbeck, who responded Jan. 22 to a citizen report of youths shooting after legal hours on Peone Road near Deadman Creek north of Spokane.
While Spurbeck was en route to the area, he called the person who made the initial call and asked that person to get the license plate number of the 2001 Dodge pickup that had come to pick up the youths. The plate was registered to Harvey.
Spurbeck caught up to the Dodge and made a traffic stop on State Route 206 near the intersection of Forker Road.
“Before I could shift my vehicle into park, the driver’s side door opened and a male subject exited the vehicle and started walking back to my patrol vehicle. The driver said something similar to ‘What is going on,’ ” Spurbeck wrote in his report.
Harvey quickly denied that he or any of the youths in his truck had fired shots after hours.
“The subject was very argumentative and would not let me finish talking before he started interrupting me,” Spurbeck wrote of Harvey.
After denying several times that any of the youths fired shots, Harvey refused to allow Spurbeck to ask them any questions. Harvey then stood in Spurbeck’s path, keeping him from approaching the youths who remained in the Dodge, according to the court record.
“As the subject arrived at the door, I put both my hands on his bicep and told him that he needed to get behind the pickup. The subject told me to get my hands off of him. I maneuvered his arm into the goose-neck escort hold,” Spurbeck wrote. “Once I had the goose-neck hold applied, he said, ‘What are you doing? You don’t have a right to touch me!’ ”
Spurbeck then told Harvey that if he didn’t follow instructions he would be taken to jail.
“Again in a raised voice, the subject said that he wasn’t obstructing, and that he knew what obstructing was,” Spurbeck wrote. “I said other law enforcement officers would have taken him to jail by now. The subject started to comply so I released him from the goose-neck hold.”
Spurbeck then spoke to the youths and two of them admitted to shooting at 4:45 p.m., five minutes after legal shooting hours had ended.
Spurbeck returned to Harvey and asked if he had a concealed weapons permit for the pistols in the truck. Harvey said he didn’t need one and then pointed to a card in his wallet that identified him as an SPD detective.
“I looked at Harvey and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’ I was shocked that a police officer would treat another officer the way he had treated me,” Spurbeck wrote. “I asked him why he didn’t identify himself as a police officer. He said something like he couldn’t because of the way things were in the department right now.”
After other law enforcement officers arrived, Spurbeck talked with the youths and showed them a pamphlet that contained hunting rules.
“I told them I was very happy to see them out hunting,” Spurbeck wrote. “I told the boys that I was not interested in writing them any tickets, and that it is great to see young hunters.”
Harvey, too, came over and shook Spurbeck’s hand and said he was sorry for escalating the situation, according to court records.
“In almost ten years of law enforcement, I … only had to go ‘hands on’ one other time,” Spurbeck wrote. “I feel the way Harvey acted was completely out of line for any citizen, let alone a fellow police officer.”
This story was updated at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.