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In brief: Berger once served as reserve deputy

The man who died after a confrontation with Spokane County sheriff’s deputies in south Spokane was a former reserve deputy for Whitman County.

Whitman County Undersheriff Ron Rockness said Friday that William Berger completed the six-month reserve deputy program in 2005 and worked for part of that year before quitting.

“He basically stopped showing up or doing anything, and because of inactivity was let go,” Rockness said. “That sometimes happens with younger guys going to college.”

Witnesses said Berger, 34, began behaving irrationally June 6 at the Oz Fitness gym at 5501 S. Regal St. Deputies Steve Paynter and Shawn Audie responded, and a confrontation ensued in which Berger continued to struggle despite being shocked three times with a Taser. Berger reportedly tried to take a Taser and use it on one of the deputies before Audie placed him in a chokehold that sheriff’s officials call a lateral-vascular neck restraint, designed to restrict blood flow to the brain.

He was taken off life support the next day, and the Spokane County Medical Examiner has not determined cause of death.

Thomas Clouse

Inslee approves estate tax bill

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed a revision in the estate tax law shortly after midnight Friday, after a day of negotiating pushed the bill through both houses of the Legislature.

The bill, called a fix of a technical glitch by supporters and a retroactive and unconstitutional reach-back by opponents, was designed to prevent some $40 million worth of checks from being mailed out to heirs of estates affected by a state Supreme Court decision.

“I hope this is a harbinger of things to come,” Inslee said as he signed the bill at 12:30 a.m., about a half-hour after it passed the Senate on a 30-19 vote.

The Legislature had just finished the second day of its second special session, and passed two bills – the estate tax fix and a change in the state’s Model Toxics Control law – two more than had passed in the entire 30 days of the first special session.

Jim Camden


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