A review board came to the same conclusion as previous investigations into the death of a 15-year-old bicyclist in Spokane Valley – that a sheriff’s deputy did not hit Ryan Holyk or the bicycle he was riding with his vehicle.
The Sheriff’s Citizens Advisory and Review Board had access to hundreds of pages of unredacted reports and autopsy results.
“We spent hundreds of hours going through this report,” said board vice chairman Bob West in releasing the report Tuesday. “We wanted to be thorough.”
Bodman was driving west on Sprague Avenue at high speed without using his lights or siren when Holyk crossed Sprague at Vista Road against a red light. Holyk’s bike did not have lights, reflectors or brakes, and he was not wearing a helmet.
The board also agreed that Bodman violated Sheriff’s Office policy by speeding with his emergency lights off as he responded “code” to a call. Bodman received a written reprimand for the policy violation.
“I think it’s fair,” West said of the discipline. “Speeding was not the issue. Officers are allowed to speed. He is required to activate his overhead lights by Sheriff’s Office policy.”
There has been additional training for deputies on the use of emergency equipment since the incident, the board noted in its report.
“The board will review the department policy to determine that those policies are consistently enforced and adjustments made,” the report said.
The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has cleared Bodman of any criminal violations. A civil lawsuit against Bodman filed by the Holyk family is ongoing.
Holyk family attorney Mike Maurer said he’s disappointed that the review board didn’t contact him to determine what information he’s uncovered during his preparation for trial, which is scheduled for August.
Maurer said he’s interviewed dozens of witnesses and is convinced that Bodman’s car hit Holyk in the head after he crashed his bike when he tried to avoid being struck.
Reviews and video analysis by outside investigators, including the Washington State Patrol, concluded that Holyk hit the ground right before Bodman passed by. They believe that Holyk “ditched” his bike in an attempt to stop when he saw two cars approaching the intersection.
As the Citizen’s Review Board looked at the case, the Sheriff’s Office hired an independent investigator recommended by the FBI to do another video analysis. The report, completed by Origins Forensics LLC, also concluded that Bodman did not hit Holyk.
“Had Bodman’s vehicle struck or run over Holyk’s head at such high speed, one should expect to see a significant amount of evidence in the form of obvious hair, blood and tissue deposits on the vehicle, the pavement around the area of impact and leading up to Holyk’s rest position,” the report said.
A small amount of Holyk’s skin cells were found on the front bumper of the police car. The Origins Forensics report indicates that one of the people assisting Holyk after the accident walked toward Bodman’s car and bent or knelt at the front of the police car.
“Thus, there is a distinct possibility that (name redacted) unintentionally transferred skin cells from Holyk to the front of Bodman’s vehicle,” the report said.
The trace evidence also could have been transferred by other bystanders or emergency personnel, or when Holyk’s bike was placed against the car’s front bumper by investigators to see whether small defects on the bumper matched up with the bike, the report said.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he asked for the Origins Forensics review, which was completed in April, after criticism of the earlier investigations.
“This is the fourth outside review,” he said. “I don’t know how many reviews other people might want.”
One of the most vocal critics of Knezovich has been Scott Maclay, who has so frequently used pictures of Holyk in his hospital bed before he died to criticize the Sheriff that the Holyk family’s attorney sent him a “cease and desist” letter.
Maclay recently applied for a vacant seat on the Spokane Valley City Council and has posted on Facebook that he is mulling a run for Spokane County Sheriff.
West said the board did hear from people critical about the investigation into the Holyk case.
“Some people, regardless of the time you put into an investigation, will find fault,” he said. “They may have a political ax to grind or any other varying reasons.”