September 11, 2012 in City

Doug Clark: This ain’t Hollywood, but maybe it should be

By The Spokesman-Review
 

On the Web: Read more columns by Doug Clark and other Spokesman-Review writers at www. spokesman.com/ columnists.

So now we know.

Edward Gover was not armed with a knife, but a set of ordinary keys when the stabbing suspect met his end last week in a barrage of police lead.

And in the wake of the Sept. 5 violence, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has weighed in with the best argument for police body cameras I’ve ever heard.

“This is not Hollywood,” the sheriff said to a reporter.

“People just don’t go down when they are shot.”

Knezovich wasn’t talking about cops wearing cameras, of course. His words were in response to some of the disturbing questions that tend to arise out of shocking situations like this.

Questions such as …

• Why didn’t the two sheriff’s deputies who confronted Gover use Tasers to stop the man?

• Did they really have to shoot the guy a half-dozen times?

• And as long as we’re speaking of overkill, did Deputy Aaron Childress really have to fire five bullets, all of which drilled Gover in the chest?

The sheriff’s point is that not all desperadoes cooperate and lie down after being plugged.

Some baddies keep a-coming, even when ventilated.

All right. Give Ozzie that one.

But here’s the aspect of the Hollywood scenario that Knezovich overlooked.

Let’s say what happened to Gover in Spokane Valley really was a movie scene. We’d have close-ups, overhead shots and wide-angle shots aplenty.

That’s the thing about a cinematic shootout. Popcorn gobblers rarely need a Ouija board to figure out who’s blasting whom.

Now I’m the last guy to ever defend a slug like Gover.

From what I’ve read so far, this guy was pure trouble.

His girlfriend claimed Gover cut her arm with a knife and held her hostage overnight when she tried to get away.

She was being consoled, in fact, when one of those tired clichés actually came to life.

Gover actually returned to the scene of the crime, rolling up in the black Mercedes he had taken from the woman.

Big mistake, being that the law was already there.

A chase ensued, ending in blood.

Knezovich says his deputies used deadly force only after Gover claimed he had a knife and charged.

I hope so.

Investigators will interview all witnesses and examine every scrap of evidence to get to the truth.

But wouldn’t it be a boon if those investigators had some at-the-moment images to ponder over, too?

That sure would have eased a lot of minds two years ago, when sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel shot 74-year-old Pastor Wayne Scott Creach to death at the minister’s Plant Farm.

You’ll never convince me that we heard the whole story of what happened in the Spokane Valley that August night.

We know Hirzel had parked on Creach’s property in the wee hours, supposedly doing paperwork. We know Creach heard something and went out to investigate with his handgun.

After that we only have Hirzel’s version to consider.

The other witness isn’t around to tell his side of the tale.

No video. No audio.

No case against Hirzel, who said he pulled the trigger out of a fear for his life, which is enough, in this state, for an officer to use deadly force.

Now think what would have happened had there been no video cameras to capture Spokane police Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr.’s vicious convenience store beat-down of Otto Zehm in 2006.

I’ll tell you what would have happened.

No indictment. No conviction.

No justice.

All those lies police officials told in the beginning about Zehm being the aggressor and how he used his plastic diet soda bottle as a sword would have stood as gospel.

It’s high time that Spokane law enforcers copied the Coeur d’Alene Police Department’s enlightened decision to wear body cameras.

I know dolts at the Police Guild have kept it from happening.

But Sheriff Knezovich could lead the charge. He’s the most straightforward, respected lawman I’ve ever seen in this town.

If he made noise he could make it happen.

Do it, Ozzie. It’s time to go Hollywood.


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