May 11, 2011 in City, News
Pastor’s family seeks limits on unmarked police cars
The family of a Spokane Valley pastor killed in a police confrontation outside his home called on Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich today to voluntarily prohibit the parking of unmarked patrol cars on private property.
“This incident is going to occur again,” said Alan Creach, son of Pastor Scott Creach, who was shot to death by a Spokane County deputy sheriff Aug. 25 after arming himself to investigate why a dark sedan was in the parking lot of his adjacent plant nursery. “We are asking the sheriff to mark the unmarked cars. That’s not unreasonable. That’s state law.”
Standing just inches from the very spot his father was fatally shot, Creach said the family has been dissatisfied with Knezovich’s comments and the findings of two review boards that found the actions of Deputy Brian Hirzel to be reasonable.
“There was nothing that occurred on Aug. 25 that was reasonable,” Creach said. “We want to encourage the sheriff to be factual … about the events that occurred that night.”
Knezovich said placing limits on the use of law enforcement tools would limit his department’s effectiveness.
“Everyone wants to look at the actions of the deputy,” the sheriff said today. “But as soon as Scott (Creach) knew he was a deputy, the car became irrelevant.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel has been cleared of any wrongdoing by Spokane County prosecutors, and most recently, by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Citizen Advisory Board. He parked his unmarked police car at Creach’s family business which is adjacent to their home. Hirzel parked there after a neighbor requested an extra patrol because her son was having trouble with local youths in the area.
As he waited, Hirzel was filling out a collision report from earlier in the evening, he told investigators, when he saw a man approaching him with a gun. Hirzel said the man initially refused to put down the gun but eventually placed it in the waistband of his pants.
Hirzel exited his car and ordered the man to get on the ground. When Creach refused, Hirzel claimed that he hit Creach in the knee with his police baton. He said Creach initially buckled and then reached for his gun. Hirzel said he fired when he saw the butt of the pistol grip.
Alan Creach said his family has spent “a tremendous amount” on experts and have hired local attorney Richard Wall to coordinate their efforts. But, they have not said whether that process will end with the filing of a civil lawsuit against Spokane County. “That’s the last resort,” Alan Creach said.
Knezovich said Tuesday that he opposed a bill, proposed by Republican state Reps. Matt Shea and Larry Crouse, that would prohibit law enforcement from parking unmarked patrol cars on private property for routine matters. Both lawmakers represent Spokane Valley in the Legislature.
Creach said he doesn’t understand why Knezovich would fight the effort. For his own part, the family has installed a steel-pole and chain fence around the parking lot of The Plant Farm, at 14208 E. 4th Ave., to keep unwanted cars out at night.
“I have a hard time understanding how any law enforcement official would be against a law designed to protect the public,” Creach said.