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ISP dash cam shows officers warning motorist to drop gun before firing

As Spokane-area law enforcement agencies debate the use of video cameras to document the actions of officers and suspects, newly released footage from a state police shooting in North Idaho shows how video evidence can leave little doubt about what leads up to a deadly confrontation.

The video released Tuesday shows how an interview with a motorist found sleeping in his car along Interstate 90 last June quickly led to the man being fatally shot in the passenger seat as he and an Idaho State Police trooper struggled over a pistol.

Trooper Todd McDevitt warned Alexander L. Mandarino not to touch the handgun in the glove compartment and to get out of the car, which was parked on the side of the freeway near Lookout Pass at the Idaho-Montana state line.

“If you make any attempt to go towards that pistol it’ll be the last thing you ever do,” McDevitt can be heard saying.

But Mandarino, 26, a Whitefish, Mont., resident, ignored McDevitt and grabbed his Walther 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.

For several tense seconds the two struggled over the gun, while a Shoshone County Sheriff’s deputy stood nearby, his own gun drawn. McDevitt repeatedly ordered Mandarino to let go of the pistol. Then the trooper took out his own handgun and placed the muzzle on Mandarino’s chest. When Mandarino refused to release his gun, McDevitt fired one fatal shot at point-blank range.

Mandarino can be heard exclaiming “Ow!” before collapsing. McDevitt removed the wounded man from the car and placed him on the ground. He and Deputy Adam Durflinger quickly administered first aid and performed CPR on Mandarino until medics arrived. Mandarino was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Keisha Oxendine concluded last week that the shooting was justified because Mandarino “posed an immediate and continuing danger to the officers on scene” and posed “a viable threat of deadly force.”

A toxicology report showed Mandarino had THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in his system at the time of the confrontation.

The police vehicle video footage and a redacted copy of the executive summary of the investigation of the shooting, conducted by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office, were released Tuesday through a public records request initiated by The Spokesman-Review.

Gory face-mauling attack shocks police

In this image taken from video, Miami police officers stand watch near a naked man, second from right, who was shot dead by a police officer when he refused to stop chewing on the face of the naked man next to him, partially obscured by a railing, in Miami, Saturday.  (AP Photo/The Miami Herald)

By JENNIFER KAY,Associated Press
MIAMI (AP) — It is being called one of this city's goriest crimes: A naked man was on top of another nude man along a busy highway, biting into the man's face, tearing it to pieces. A police officer arrived to help, but the mauler growled at him and continued to chew away, stopping only when he was shot to death.

 Miami police said little Tuesday about the attack, which took place Saturday afternoon in the shadow of The Miami Herald headquarters. Surveillance video from the newspaper's security camera showed cars, motorcycles, pedestrians and bicyclists passing by.

The victim, identified as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo (left), was in critical condition, with only his goatee intact on his face, the newspaper reported.

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said it was one of the bloodiest "and goriest scenes I've ever been to."

"It was not only grotesque, it was just very sad, the amount of blood. It was very sad to see what happened to this gentleman that had his face eaten," Ortiz said.

It's not clear what led Rudy Eugene (right), 31, to attack Poppo. Eugene's ex-wife, Jenny Ductant, told WPLG-TV, said he was somewhat paranoid.

"I wouldn't say he had mental problem but he always felt like people was against him … No one was for him, everyone was against him," she told the station. She and Eugene's mother declined comment when reached by The Associated Press.

Larry Vega was riding his bicycle off the causeway, which connects downtown Miami with Miami Beach, when he saw the attack.

"The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, 'Get off!'" Vega told Miami television station WSVN (http://bit.ly/L6kwWt). "The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin."

Vega flagged down the Miami police officer, who can be seen exiting his car on the Herald video. Vega said the officer repeatedly ordered the attacker to get off. Eugene just picked his head up and growled at the officer before continuing to maul his victim, Vega said.

The officer shot Eugene, but he just kept chewing, Vega said. The officer fired again, killing Eugene.

Vega refused to comment when reached by The Associated Press, saying he wanted to put what he witnessed behind him.

Detective William Moreno would not release details about the shooting, citing the ongoing investigation. The Miami-Dade County medical examiner declined to provide any information until after the autopsy, which was scheduled for Tuesday.

Ortiz said the officer, who is part of a crisis intervention team and trained to deal with the mentally ill, had no choice but to fire.

"He's clearly shaken up," Ortiz said, adding that the officer had been administratively reassigned pending an investigation, as is standard after an officer-involved shooting.

After the shooting, the Herald's video zooms in on the scene. Most of it is blocked by an overpass, but two sets of uncovered legs can be seen. One set never moves, while the other twists and turns as if the person is in pain.

"It was just a blob of blood," Vega said. "You couldn't really see, it was just blood all over the place."

Court records show that Poppo has several arrests for public intoxication.

According to Miami-Dade court records, Eugene had been arrested for multiple misdemeanors, mostly marijuana-related charges. The most recent arrest was in 2009. The Herald reported that he played football at a Miami area high school in the late 1990s.

Ives Eugene, who identified himself as Rudy Eugene's uncle, described his nephew as a "nice and hard-working" man who washed cars at a local dealership.

He said his nephew had asked his girlfriend to borrow her car, but she said no. "So he rode the bicycle, and he never came back home," he said.

Associated Press reporter Suzette Laboy contributed to this report.

Video questions account of shooting

Watch me talk about the story in the video above with KHQ's Dave Cotton.

A homeowner says his surveillance video brings into question the official account of why law enforcement shot and killed a North Idaho fugitive three weeks ago, though police warn against drawing too many conclusions from the footage because it captures just a portion of the chaotic 20-minute chase and final encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

1 officer cleared, 1 charged in shooting

(AP and staff reports) — A Nez Perce Tribal Police officer has been cleared in the fatal shooting of a Lewiston man, but one of his colleagues could be in trouble.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Thursday that the officer who shot 46-year-old Jeffery Allen Flinn would not be prosecuted.

But another officer, Trevor Michael Garrett, had been charged with making false statements to FBI agents investigating Flinn's death.

Flinn died following a 50-mile car chase that ended in gunfire Nov. 12.

Police say earlier that day, Flinn had been released from jail following a drunken driving arrest and then got involved in a one-vehicle crash outside Lewiston. Police say he then stole a truck from another motorist and fled before officers arrived.

Tribal police say they tried to pull Flinn over, but he refused.

The indictment, returned Wednesday by a grand jury in Coeur d'Alene, alleges Garrett lied to FBI agents when he told them he didn't remember the details of what happened between the time he fired at Flinn and the time another officer secured Flinn's rifle.

The indictment alleges those statement were false "because Garrett knew that he remembered that Flinn exited a truck, and that Flinn stood facing law enforcement officers with his hands in the air for three to five seconds before he was shot and killed," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. "The indictment further alleges that Garrett's statements were false because he did know the name and identity of the police officer who shot Flinn."

The incident was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Idaho State Police. 

In a prepared statement Thursday, Olson called the investigation "detailed and thorough."  "We pursued and obtained all the information necessary to make a prosecutive decision," she said.  

To prove a violation of the federal criminal civil rights statute prohibiting law enforcement officer misconduct, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer intentionally used more force than he or she could reasonably have thought necessary under the circumstances, according to a news release. 

"That issue was the focus of the investigation," said Olson.

A decision not to prosecute may be made for a variety of reasons, Olson said, including insufficiency of evidence to prove the police officer intentionally used more force than was necessary.  

"The statute sets out a tough standard in cases involving allegations of unreasonable force by a police officer," she said.  "It requires that we be cautious, thorough and deliberative, and that's what we've been in this case.  We determined that under the circumstances, including the weather conditions, lighting and officer's knowledge and state of mind leading up to the shooting, we could not prove all of the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  In such situations, we are obligated to decline prosecution.  We do so here."

Shot fugitive had wig, weapons, paint

A fugitive shot to death by police in North Idaho had material for changing his identity in his vehicle, as well as weapons, drug paraphernalia and an active police scanner.

 The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department announced the discovery Wednesday as part of its ongoing investigation into the death of Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33.

Todd died early Monday after he was shot by multiple Post Falls police officers following a 20-minute chase that ended in a residential area in west Hayden, Idaho.

Todd was shot after he struck an Idaho State Police trooper with his car and knocked him to the ground. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Todd, a longtime felon, was wanted on a warrant for eluding police when his car triggered an alert system on Interstate 90 that detects stolen vehicles and fugitives.

Investigators said Wednesday that Todd's car had recently been painted from blue to white. They found six cans of black spray paint in the car that indicated Todd may have planned to paint it again. They also found a brass knuckles/stun gun combination weapons, a knife, three cell phones along with the paraphernalia and scanner.

Investigators interviewed all officers involved in the incident Wednesday. The Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office will decide on charges once a report is submitted.

Fugitive shot, killed by Post Falls police

A North Idaho man with an extensive criminal history was shot and killed by a Post Falls police officer early Monday after striking a state trooper with his car, police say.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, died at Kootenai Medical Center after a nearly 20-minue police chase ended with shots fired in a residential area near St. Estephe Court and Bordeaux Drive, just west of Ramsey Road and south of Honeysuckle Drive in Hayden.

Read the rest of my story here.

No charges in fatal Colville cop shooting

A Colville police officer was justified when he shot and killed a 21-year-old car prowling suspect who investigators say was armed with a stolen gun last November, prosecutors recently concluded.

 Officer Dan Spring Spring feared for his life when Sean Bergstrasser (pictured) grabbed a stolen gun in a motel room Nov. 12, and his use of deadly force to stop the threat posed by Bergstrasser was legal, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen and Deputy Prosecutor Mathew Enzler concluded.

Andy Hydorn, president of the Colville Chamber of Commerce and owner of Benny’s Colville Inn, was in the motel room and watched Officer Dan Spring fire six shots at Bergstrasser after Bergstrasser picked up a firearm and pointed it toward the officer “as if to fire the weapon,” according to a report released Monday by the Stevens County Prosecutor’s Office.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Nov. 14: Man killed by Colville police a California native

Utah officer killed, 5 wounded in shooting

Relatives of Jared Francom from second left, brother Travis Francom, Travis' wife Jessica Francom, and brothers Ben Francom and Gunner Francom attend a candle light vigil Thursday for law enforcement officers shot the night before in Ogden, Utah. Jared Francom died from his wounds.(AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Kim Raff)

By PAUL FOY,Associated Press
OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Search warrant in hand, a team of bulletproof vest-wearing officers rapped on the door of a small, red-brick Utah house, identifying themselves as police. When no one responded, authorities say, the officers burst inside.

 That's when the gunfire erupted.

 When it was over Wednesday night, a 7-year veteran officer was dead and five of his colleagues were wounded, some critically. The suspect, an Army veteran whose estranged father said suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and may have been self-medicating with marijuana, was injured.

Now, as the city tries to grapple with the outburst of violence and the loss of one of its officers, investigators are trying to determine how the raid as part of a drug investigation could have gone so terribly wrong.

"It's a very, very sad day," an emotional Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said Thursday.

About 400 people, including officers in uniform from across Utah, attended a candlelight vigil to honor slain Ogden officer Jared Francom (pictured right) at an outdoor amphitheater Thursday evening. A moment of silence was observed, and a slide show of Francom and his fellow officers wounded in the shooting was shown.

 Francom's wife of seven years, Erin, (pictured left) stood on stage and fought back tears during the short program. The couple has two daughters, ages 5 and 3. Police declined to reveal details of the shooting besides a general timeline, citing the ongoing investigation.

They would not say, for instance, whether the shootout took place entirely inside the home or spilled out into the yard, how many shots were fired and how many guns were recovered.

There will be several investigations, including one by Ogden police and another outside probe by prosecutors.

Among the questions that authorities will try to answer was whether the officers, in the chaotic moments upon entering the house, may have inadvertently fired on each other.

Police said the warrant was based on information about possible drug activity, but would not say what officers were specifically looking for inside Matthew David Stewart's home, which sits across the street from a Mormon church meeting house.

Stewart, 37, was in the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, authorities said. He does not have an attorney yet.

Utah court records show Stewart's criminal history includes only a 2005 conviction for a class B misdemeanor traffic violation — operating a vehicle without insurance. A judge found him guilty after a bench trial and ordered him to pay a $350 fine.

State officials also placed a pair of tax liens on Stewart last August.

Stewart served in the Army from July 1994 to December 1998, spending a year based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and nearly three years stationed in Germany, Army records show.

He held a post as a communications equipment specialist, earning an Army Achievement Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Both are given for completing active service, although they don't indicate exceptional acts of valor.

Stewart's father, Michael Stewart, said his son works a night shift at a local Walmart and may have been sleeping when police arrived.

"When they kicked in the door, he probably felt threatened," said Michael Stewart, who has been estranged from his son for more than a year, but keeps track of him through his two other sons.

The elder Stewart said his son suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression and may have been treating it with small amounts of pot. He said he believes his son may have been growing the weed himself.

He said he didn't believe his son owned any automatic weapons and that the family is upset by what happened. "This is my son's problem and we're grieving for him and all of the officers," Michael Stewart said. "I'm dead sick about it."

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said it wasn't yet clear what charges Stewart might face once the shooting investigation concludes.

"But it appears right now, with the information we have, that we have an aggravated murder as well as a number of other attempted aggravated murders," Smith said, choking back tears.

Aggravated murder is a capital crime and, if convicted, Stewart could face the death penalty.

By midday Thursday, more than 1,000 friends and strangers had expressed their support and gratitude for Francom and his family on a memorial Facebook page with prayers, poems and other message. Some posters swapped out their profile pictures for a black logo with a blue stripe representing fallen officers.

Francom's three brothers held a short news conference just before Thursday's vigil, lauding him as an "awesome man," who loved adventure and was an example of service and dedication.

"He died doing what he loved," said Travis Francom, 25. "He worried at times for his safety … not so much for himself but for his family, his wife and little girls. I don't think he was ever afraid."

Travis Francom (pictured) thanked the community for the outpouring of support shown for the family and asked for continued prayers for the other officers.

"I would also encourage you to remember the family of the suspect as they have a long road ahead of them as well," he said. "I'm sure this must be a difficult time for them."

Authorities said the conditions of the other officers ranged from serious to critical. They are Ogden officers Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles, Weber County sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy officer Jason VanderWarf.

Kevin Burrell, Kasey Burrell's father, said his son was shot in the head. A seven-year veteran of the police force, the younger Burrell was sedated but appears to be improving, his father said.

On Wednesday, witnesses said they heard three quick pops followed by a two- to three-minute pause, then lots of gunfire and officers yelling at someone to "put your hands up," in the backyard.

 Outside Stewart's house on Thursday armed SWAT officers clothed in camouflage remained on guard as police continued their search of the property. The yard was taped off and dotted with numbered evidence markers.

Residents said they were shocked to hear there was any drug activity in the area or a shootout on their street.

"This has always been a quiet neighborhood. We've been here for 11 years," said Andrew Mair, who said his wife hid in the couple's basement in fear when the gunfire rang out. "I've never heard anything crazy going on."

Man, 21, shot to death by Colville police

A 21-year-old man shot to death by a Colville police officer late Saturday was raised by a computer analyst and an elementary school teacher in a small town near Bakersfield, Calif., before embracing what his father described as a “transient” lifestyle.

 Few details about the shooting death of Sean Joseph Bergstrasser have been released, including what prompted the officer to open fire.

Bergstrasser’s father, Mark Bergstrasser, a computer systems analyst who lives with his wife, a fifth-grade teacher, in Wasco, Calif., said he never knew their son to own a firearm.

“Sean has never owned a firearm,” he said. “Where the handgun actually came from is a question I have. I don’t know.”

Read my full story here.

Man shot by police sues Spokane Valley

A man acquitted of assaulting two police officers who shot him in October 2009 is suing the city of Spokane Valley.

David J. Glidden, 29, was paralyzed by the shooting and is seeking compensation for millions of dollars in medical expenses he’s accrued and expects to accrue. He was holding a pellet gun when shot by officers at his Spokane Valley home Oct. 30, 2009.

Read the reset of my story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 17: Man shot by deputies acquitted of assault

Nov. 9, 2009: Man shot by police: 'It will be on the news'

Nov. 4, 2009: Man shot by police had pellet gun

Wife’s spot saves man from cop gunfire

A Spokane Valley man who pointed a starter pistol at officers last week was not shot because his wife was in the line of fire, police announced today.

William Thomas Laroque, 28, said "Well, hello officers" and began calmly walking toward Sgts. Don Manning and Matt Smith when they arrived at his home in the 5300 block of East 8th Avenue after 3:10 a.m. on Thursday, according to a news release from the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Officer Jeremy Howe had been there about three hours earlier after Laroque's wife reported to 911 that he slapped her during an argument. No arrests were made because Howe didn't find evidence of the assault, and Laroque had already fled the home. Laroque's wife called 911 again when he returned and refused to leave, police said.

Laroque was about 30 feet away from police when "he pulled what appeared to be a pistol from his pants and aimed it in a two-handed stance at Sgt. Smith," according to the release.

Police drew their guns but realized Laroque's wife was behind him and in the line of fire. Laroque continued aiming the gun at Smith but dropped it several seconds after the sergeants began ordered him to do so. He also tossed a knife in the driveway and got on the ground, where he was handcuffed.

The wife repeatedly told police the gun was fake and also thanked them for not shooting her husband, police said. Laroque was arrested on a domestic violence charge and is in custody at Geiger Corrections Center on $3,500 bond.

Officer in fatal shooting is 16-year vet

A 16-year Spokane police veteran and member of the SWAT team has been identified as the officer who shot and killed an armed and suicidal man Monday.

 Authorities said Thursday that Officer Dan Lesser (left) was the only officer who fired shots during the nearly two-hour standoff with James Edward Rogers, 45, (right) who died of gunshot wounds after he refused a negotiator’s commands to exit his overturned van at East Seventh Avenue and South Hatch Street on the lower South Hill.

Officers could see him “hanging from the driver’s seat, still manipulating the shotgun” after the van overturned, according to a news release by Spokane County sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 29: Man killed by police fired shot before chase began

Sept. 28: Family questions fatal police shooting

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

Suicidal man fired shot before chase

A suicidal man who was shot to death by police during a nearly two-hour standoff apparently fired a shotgun outside his workplace before officers arrived, according to information released today by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

A sheriff’s K-9 team recovered a portion of a shotgun shell known as a wad in the area where a witness said James Edward Rogers fired a shot before fleeing in a van. No one was injured by that shot in the parking lot.

But about two hours later, Rogers, 45, was killed by Spokane police after refusing commands to put down the shotgun and exit the overturned van, which he had crashed at East Seventh Avenue and South Hatch Street while fleeing officers.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Family questions fatal police shooting

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

 

Family questions fatal police shooting

Spokane police and members of the SWAT unit investigate after a stand-off with the shooting death of James E. Rogers on Monday near Seventh and Hatch on the lower South Hill. (Jesse Tinsley/SR)

James Edward Rogers spent Monday driving around the Spokane area, calling his family.

Depressed and distraught, the 45-year-old father of seven said it was over – that he had his father’s shotgun and planned to use it on himself. His family frantically searched for him, eventually learning of a police standoff on the lower South Hill with a man in a van.

It had to be him, said Rogers’ father, Alonzo Rogers, who owns the van his son took from their Deer Park home Monday.

Family rushed to the area of Hatch Street and Seventh Avenue to help officers persuade Rogers to surrender, but gunfire interrupted Rogers’ sister’s phone call with police.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 27: Standoff ends with man dead from police gunfire

Dead man’s family wants jury inquest

Granville Dodd was home in bed when he got the call.

His younger brother, Quentin Dodd, (right) one of 11 siblings, had been shot in Spokane Valley by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy. It was bad, his family said, but no one knew exactly what happened.

 Dodd soon learned his 50-year-old brother was dead. Nearly one year later, he says he’s still searching for answers to questions he has had since day one.

 Granville Dodd questions the deputy’s account of the shooting, compared to the forensic evidence, and he’s troubled that police portrayed his brother as being high on drugs when an autopsy showed only prescription medication was in Quentin Dodd’s system.

Spokane County prosecutors recently ruled the Oct. 24, 2010, shooting by Deputy Rustin Olson (left) was justified. Olson and another deputy who confronted Dodd that evening told investigators that Dodd wielded a sharp obsidian rock, refused orders to drop it, threatened to stab one of them, then ran toward Olson, prompting the deputy to shoot.

But the Dodd family, through their attorneys, Breean Beggs and Mark Harris, are calling for a closer examination of the case in the form of a jury inquest.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 19: Coroners says inquests offer transparency

Oct. 27: Man killed by deputy had been suicidal

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Creach family seeks $15mil from county

The family of slain Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach has filed a $14.7 million wrongful death claim against Spokane County, which is the first step in filing a civil lawsuit.

“A jury may come in and feel highly aggravated at what happened,” said the pastor’s son, Alan Creach. “They may award a very large sum.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who is on vacation, said Tuesday that he knows the claim has been filed. “Since it’s gone into the lawsuit phase, I don’t have any comments, per our legal advice.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Fatal police shooting ruled justified

From upper left, Spokane police Officers Dan Cole, Bill Hager, Kyle Heuett, Mike McNab, Bruce Palmer and Doug Strosahl were involved in the fatal shooting of Ethan Corporon.

Police were justified when they shot and killed a 29-year-old man who was running with a shotgun outside a busy Spokane restaurant last fall, the Spokane County prosecutor’s office has ruled.

 Ethan A. Corporon fired six shots at a home at 1402 W. Buckeye Ave. on Nov. 12 before fleeing police and abandoning his father’s pickup in the middle of southbound Monroe Street in front of Shari’s restaurant. Witnesses at the time said Corporon appeared to be firing the shotgun while running from officers, though a police investigation determined Corporon never fired but did refuse to drop the weapon.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said Corporon’s refusal to drop the shotgun gave police legitimate concerns for their own safety and the safety of others.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past covergae:

Nov. 16: Gunman killed by police described as volatile, explosive

Nov. 12: Shotgun-shooting man killed by police

Fatal Idaho police shooting ruled justified

An Idaho State Police trooper who shot a fugitive to death during a pursuit north of Coeur d’Alene in February will not face charges.

Trooper Dan Howard was justified when he used deadly force to stop a Jeep that was approaching him after he exited his police car following a collision, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

Howard fired several shots, six of which hit the Jeep. Investigators believe he was aiming at the driver of the Jeep, Mark M. Maykopet, a fugitive from Butte, but one of the shots hit Maykopet’s wife, 40-year-old Christie Ann Little, alias O’Leary, who also was a fugitive.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shawna Dunn said Little’s seat was slightly reclined, which led to her being shot even though bullet holes on the Jeep showed Howard was aiming at Maykopet in the driver’s seat.

“Her seat was basically in the line of fire between the trooper and the driver,” Dunn said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 19: Idaho trooper interviewed about fatal shooting

Feb. 24: Couple shot by ISP trooper were married

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

Deputy cleared in pastor’s fatal shooting

The Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor last year will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter.

Deputy Brian Hirzel followed all departmental policies and procedures during the Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach (pictured), Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Wednesday in announcing the results of his internal investigation. He met with members of the Creach family earlier in the day to advise them of the findings.

“This was a very tragic situation. I’m saddened for the community. I’m saddened for the Creach family. I’m saddened for law enforcement,” Knezovich said. “But it came down to a matter of choices. For Deputy Hirzel, when (Creach) reached for that weapon, he was faced with a deadly threat.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 30: Sheriff drops the wait for police shooting interviews

Stevens County shooting ruled justifed

No charges will be filed against a Stevens County sheriff’s deputy who shot a burglary suspect as he was in bed reaching for a gun.

Deputy Travis Frizzell was justified in believing Trinidy Capone Lopez, 24, posed a serious threat during the March 5 confrontation, according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who decided against filing criminal charges after reviewing the police investigation.

Deputies were trying to question Lopez about vehicle prowlings outside a Stevens County bar.

“While Frizzell had no duty to retreat, retreat was impossible due to his close proximity to Lopez and the narrow stairway he would have to negotiate to get to a place of protection,” Rasmussen wrote. “He had no other reasonable choice than to protect himself from the threat presented to him by Trinidy Lopez and his firearm.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 8: Deputies in Stevens County shooting identified

March 7: Man shot by deputies denies being armed

Cop killer’s driver gets 420 years

TACOMA — The getaway driver in the coffee shop shooting deaths of four Lakewood police officers, Dorcus Allen, was sentenced today in Tacoma to 420 years in prison.

The News Tribune reports that during the sentencing the 42-year-old Arkansas native (pictured in May) maintained his innocence. His defense attorneys vowed to immediately appeal.

A jury convicted Allen in May of being an accomplice to four counts of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say Allen drove Maurice Clemmons to and from the Parkland coffee shop on Nov. 29, 2009, when Clemmons gunned down officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right). Griswold's sister works for the Spokane Police Department, and her parents live in North Idaho.

Clemmons was killed two days later in a confrontation with a Seattle police officer.

Before the sentencing began, Allen’s defense attorneys argued their client should receive a new trial. They filed paperwork on May 31 arguing that prosecutorial and juror misconduct cost their client a fair trial. Prosecutors have countered in court paperwork that the trial was fair.

Feb. 9: Deputies saw Clemmons before Lakewood murders

Jan. 14: 3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

Man shot by police convicted of assault

A Spokane jury on Wednesday convicted a 67-year-old man of assault against one of the deputies who shot him three times in 2009.

The jury convicted Donald J. Lafavor of one count of second-degree assault in connection with an incident on Nov. 28, 2009.

The verdict baffled Lafavor’s defense attorney, especially since Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Patrick Johnson recently questioned the merit of pursuing the trial after a recent acquittal and a hung jury in two similar cases.

“I’m shocked and outraged,” defense attorney James Kirkham said. “That’s the worst read I’ve ever had on a jury.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 9: .354 DUI suspect 'Not enough' booze

Police shoot gator, then realize it’s fake

BILL DRAPER,Associated Press
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) — Police responding to a rare alligator sighting in suburban Kansas City took quick action to dispatch of the beast, shooting it in the head, as instructed, while it lurked menacingly in the weeds leading down to a pond.

It wasn't until a second rifle shot bounced off the reptile's head that the officers realized they had mortally wounded a concrete lawn ornament.

A resident of a subdivision near the pond called police Saturday evening to report that his children spotted the alligator while they were playing in some nearby woods.

After consulting a conservation agent, who told them to kill the gator if they felt it posed a danger, one of the officers shot it twice in the head before realizing something was up, said Tom Gentry, an Independence police spokesman.

"It didn't move," Gentry said. "They inched up closer and closer and discovered it was a mock-up of a real alligator made to look like it was real."

In the officers' defense, it was growing dark when they shot the fake gator and it was partially submerged in the weeds.

The property owner told police that the gator was meant to keep people off his property, Gentry said. Officers told him a no-trespassing sign would have been wiser.

"Now he'll have to patch up his alligator," Gentry said.

Conservation agent Derek Cole said the department has received calls in the past about alligators that had been set free in populated areas, so there was no reason to believe the Saturday sighting wasn't valid.

"The department doesn't get involved in something like that," Cole said. "They asked if they could go ahead and dispatch it if it was a danger, and I said there's a kill shot on alligators, a small kill shot on the head. I said if they can get a shot like that, go ahead."

Shot bank robbery suspect remains free

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — A 69-year-old Clarkston, Wash., man is out of jail but barred from casinos after being arraigned on charges related to a bank robbery.

David Payton was shot by officers after robbing a U.S. Bank in Lewiston at gunpoint Feb. 3, Lewiston police said. He was hospitalized for two months.

Nez Perce County prosecutors asked Magistrate Judge Jay Gaskill to arrest Payton Wednesday because of the seriousness of the charges and because Payton has been seen casinos. Police suspect gambling debts may have been the motive for the robbery.

Gaskill allowed Payton to remain free, but ordered him not to enter casinos. Payton is charged with robbery and four counts of aggravated assault. His preliminary hearing is set for June 8.

Cop killer’s driver convicted of murder

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The getaway driver in the coffee shop killings of four Washington police officers was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday, but he escaped an automatic life sentence because jurors determined he was not a major participant in the bloodshed.

Dorcus Allen, 40, drove gunman Maurice Clemmons to and from the neighborhood where he ambushed the four Lakewood officers, who were preparing for their Sunday morning shift on Nov. 29, 2009. Allen maintained at trial that he didn't know why Clemmons needed the rides.

Clemmons was shot in the abdomen by one of the officers, but kept on the run during an intense two-day manhunt that ended when he was killed by a Seattle patrolman on a dark city street.

"You got what you wanted, but you will not get them back," Allen told reporters as he was led out of court.

He faced four counts of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of Officers Greg Richards, 42, Tina Griswold, 40, Ronald Owens, 37, and Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39 (pictured above, left to right).

Griswold's sister works for the Spokane Police Department, and her parents live in North Idaho.

Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty against Allen, so if convicted as charged, he would have been sentenced automatically to the only other possible punishment for aggravated murder, life in prison without the possibility of release.

Jurors convicted Allen of four counts of first-degree murder after finding that he was not a major participant in the shootings. But the jury agreed that the victims were police — an aggravating circumstance that gives the judge the option of sentencing him to life in prison.

Prosecutors will ask for four life sentences when Allen is sentenced June 17, Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The News Tribune of Tacoma outside the courtroom.

"Justice was done in this case, and we're thrilled with this verdict," Prosecutor Mark Lindquist told The News Tribune of Tacoma outside the courtroom. "You don't have a getaway driver who doesn't know what's up."

Peter Mazzone, one of Allen's defense attorneys, had a different reaction.

"I think an innocent man was convicted," Mazzone said. "We'll appeal as quickly as we can. This was a lynching, man."

Of seven Clemmons friends or family members arrested after the killings, Allen was the only one charged with murder. Five people have been convicted of either helping Clemmons or possessing firearms. One was acquitted.

Clemmons had previously been held for investigation of child rape and had posted $190,000 bail six days before the shootings.

Clemmons had been convicted in Arkansas of felonies stemming from a seven-month crime spree and was ultimately sentenced to 108 years in prison. He was granted clemency in 2000, despite a history of violence in prison, and he moved to Washington state.

Past coverage:

Feb. 9: Deputies saw Clemmons before Lakewood murders

Jan. 14: 3 sentenced in Lakewood police murders

Man shot by police won’t be retried

Prosecutors have dismissed assault charges against a man shot by Spokane Valley police in 2009. A jury was split 6-6 after Michael E. Young's trial last March in Spokane County Superior Court.

Prosecutors decided not to pursue another trial, and Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson dismissed two counts of second-degree assault against Young this week.

Young's lawyer, James Kirkham, called the move "the correct result."  He said Young is still recovering from his injuries.

"All along he's maintained that he didn't do anything wrong," Krikham said.

Deputies Walter Loucks, Darell Stidham and Scott Bonney shot Young outside his home at 11709 E. Fairview Ave., on Dec. 27, 2009.

Young had reportedly threatened to kill himself and was armed with a .40-caliber Glock. The charges alleged Young pointed a gun at the officers before he was shot.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting said Young never pointed his gun at deputies but refused orders to drop it.

Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman received life-saving awards for their work on Young after he was shot, but a review of the shooting by sheriff's officials criticized the move.

"Was it possible their rapid response saved the suspect's life? Possibly," according to a report by Pat Knight, the sheriff's lead firearms instructor. "But rushing up to someone who was armed and just fell to the ground is dangerous…The deputies could have stayed in position and assessed the situation for a short period of time before making the approach to ensure their safety."

Golman is credited with helping control Young's bleeding; Loucks established an airway to keep Young breathing, according to a sheriff's office report.

Sheriff's officials recommended reiteration training on how to respond to injured suspects and to "continue to reinforce the concept of 'shoot until the threats ceases to exist.'"

500-pound pig Tasered, shot in Valley

A 500-pound pig was shot to death by a Washington State Patrol trooper in Spokane Valley this afternoon after escaping a van and absorbing several Taser shocks.

Trooper Morgan Mehaffey saw the pig running down the sidewalk near North Pines Road and East Mission Avenue after spotting a van driving erratically with its back window broken out.

Read the rest of my story here.

Judge: Suspect ‘lucky he wasn’t shot’

A 20-year-old man who sped through downtown Spokane to escape arrest also avoided being shocked with a Taser in a wild chase that nearly led to police gunfire late Tuesday, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Andre R. Hallman was "told he would be shot" if he continued to refuse orders from Trooper R. Hill after speeding through downtown at 60 to 70 mph about 8:50 p.m. and exiting his car at 1921 W. Pacific Ave., according to a probable cause affidavit.

Police say Hallman was trying to open the trunk of his car after repeated orders from Hill to show his hands. He stood up and showed his hands after Hill warned of gunfire, but he refused to lay flat on the ground and ran from Hill when a Taser misfired.

The Taser missed again as Hallman ran onto Pacific Avenue, police said. He was arrested about three blocks away.

"He was lucky he wasn't shot, frankly," Superior Court Judge Michael Price said at Hallman's first court appearance Wednesday.

Price said the eluding case was "just extraordinary" and called Hallman "a menace to the community" before imposing $25,000 bond.

Three female passengers, ages 18, 17 and 15, were not arrested. Hallman's aunt said he took the car from her without her permission.

Police found an unloaded 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun in the trunk. Hallman is a convicted felon, which means he's prohibited from possessing firearms.

He also had a warrant for first-degree robbery from last October. He was booked on that charge and new charges of attempting to elude police. Charges for the shotgun are pending.

Hillyard police shooting ruled justified

Two Spokane police officers were justified when they shot a man who was pointing a gun at another man outside a Hillyard bar last December, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday. 

Cpl. Zachary Storment and Officer Christopher Douville will not be charged for the shooting, which killed Jeremy Groom, 34, on Dec. 4. 

Storment and Douville arrived outside the Special K Tavern, 3817 N. Market St., to see Groom pointing a gun at a man who turned out to be his best friend.

Douville ordered Groom to drop his pistol and shot him when he did not, Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release Tuesday. Reagan is the spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which led the investigation.

Storment said he didn’t believe he had time to order Groom to drop the gun. He feared Groom would shoot the other man instead of dropping the gun, so he also shot Groom, Reagan said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Dec. 6: Friends question Hillyard police shooting

Report: Shot pregnant woman apologized

A state trooper who accidentally shot an unarmed pregnant woman during a drug raid in Spokane last fall was emotional in interviews with investigators and was overheard asking why the shot couldn’t have missed.

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Herbert Lee Slemp recently returned to work in an administrative position after prosecutors concluded no criminal charges should be filed against him for the Sept. 24 shooting of Keamia D. Powell, 24.

After Powell was shot, she “reportedly apologized for not listening to the officers and not doing what she had been told,” according to police reports obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the state’s open records laws.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

March 22: No charges in shooting on pregnant woman

Oct. 1: WSP sergeant says shooting was accidental

Sept. 24: State patrol officer shoots unarmed pregnant woman