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Brothers involved in bizarre shooting

A man shot and killed by his brother near Elk on Saturday has been identified as David A. Ruthruff, 41.

Ruthruff died of a single gunshot to his chest, according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted an autopsy Monday.

Ruthruff’s brother, whose name has not been released, told deputies he was outside in the dark in the 13000 block of East Bridges Road when he was attacked by an unknown person about 8:30 p.m.

He retrieved a gun from the home and fired at the intruder, not knowing it was his brother, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said.

No arrests have been made.

Ruthruff’s girlfriend was questioned by deputies, as were his brother and his brother’s wife, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Life-savers honored at sheriff’s dinner

Two Spokane County sheriff’s employees have been honored for saving the life of a suicidal man after he was shot by officers.

Deputy Walter Loucks and Sgt. Dale Golman rushed to Michael E. Young after he was shot Dec. 27 and kept him breathing while medics arrived.

Although the move was later criticized as too risky in an internal investigation, Loucks and Golman were honored for their bravery this week during the annual SCOPE (Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing Effort) and Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner.

Read my full story here.

4 stabbings in 2 weeks in Spokane Co.

Law enforcement in Spokane County are investigating the fourth stabbing in two weeks.
None appear to be connected, and suspects have been arrested in three.

The most recent stabbing occurred about midnight Thursday after three men left a party and were walking near Standard Street and Cozza Avenue when one was stabbed by an unidentified assailant.

The attacker confronted the group and said he knew one of the men, then pushed the victim to the ground and stabbed him at least once before fleeing on foot. The victim’s friends called police about 12:30 a.m. The wounds were not life-threatening.

The assailant is described as black, six feet tall and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and red bandanna. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

The stabbing comes after three stabbings occurred in two days late last month.

Two men are accused of attacking another man in his home Oct. 27. Another man is accused of stabbing his neighbor in an apparent attempt at revenge. Then on Oct. 29, 22-year-old Blain A. Gooding allegedly stabbed Rodney Barce in the stomach during a fight in the 6600 block of North Addison Street. 

All suspects in those cases are in jail.

Man accused of assaulting deputies

Two Spokane County deputies received injuries Tuesday in a dispute that led to the arrest of a 44-year-old Spokane Valley man.

Steven W. Prater was arrested at 13924 E. Mallon Ave., in Spokane Valley, where two deputies responded to a domestic violence call about 8:07 p.m. Prater refused to talk to them and walked away, then refused commands to stop and resisted arrested, according to probable cause affidavit.

Prater “told deputies he wanted to fight” and hit two, deputies Petersen and Bohanek, in the face, according to the affidavit, which was filed to support two counts of third-degree assault, and single counts of fourth-degree assault, third-degree malicious mischief and resisting arrest against Prater.

Three residents witnessed the scuffle and described Prater as combative and said he’d broken a door prior to police arrival, deputies said.

Prater remained in jail on $20,000 bond late Wednesday after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court.

Officer involved shootings

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will be speaking about recent officer involved shootings and his department’s policies on use of force during Wednesday morning’s Spokane Valley Business Association meeting. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 7:30 a.m. at Spokane Valley Fire Station 8, 2110 N. Wilbur (just west of Pines). I’m not sure if there will be time for questions, but it should be an informative presentation.

Sheriff’s Office stands by training

Facing the muzzle of a gun, a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy said he had one immediate thought: death.

Ryan Walter squeezed off eight rounds at the gunman, Donald J. Lafavor. His partner, Deputy Rustin Olson, fired three.

Lafavor survived the gunshot wounds and faces two counts of second-degree assault for allegedly pointing the gun at the deputies, who had responded to a domestic violence report at Lafavor’s Broadway Avenue apartment last November.

Afterward, Walter summarized his relief in an interview with investigators: “I’m glad we have good training.”

That training now is under scrutiny after four officer-involved shootings in the past 2  1/2 months in Spokane County. In three, sheriff’s deputies pulled the trigger.

Read my Sunday story here.

Pic shows weapon in Sunday shooting

 Police on Wednesday released a photo of the weapon deputies say Quentin D. Dodd was carrying when he was shot and killed Sunday night. 

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Rustin Olson said Dodd charged at him with the weapon after repeatedly yelling “shoot me,” Spokane police said.

In an an interview with investigators on Tuesday, Olson and Deputy Todd Miller had spotted Dodd dressed in black and carrying an obsidian knife on Valleyway Avenue near Progress Road, about a block from the halfway house where Dodd was staying at 507 N. Sommer Road.

Olson was involved in a nonfatal police shooting last November.

Read my full story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 27: Man killed by deputy had been suicidal

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Man shot by deputy had been suicidal

A man shot and killed by a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy on Sunday underwent a mental evaluation after trying to commit suicide last summer. 

A police report obtained Tuesday said Quentin Donald Dodd, 50, told officers “he was upset with his life and didn’t want to live anymore” when he walked down to the train tracks at Perry Street and Indiana Avenue in Spokane in July.

The 3-month-old report portrays the latest target of police gunfire to be a mentally unstable man who told police he’d considered fighting with the arresting officer “because he wanted to die.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Oct. 26: Family questions fatality

Man shot by deputy ‘not a happy person’

Before Quentin Donald Dodd’s fatal confrontation with a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy on Sunday, his landlord said she’d had enough.

 “He was very aggressive and threatening, so I said, ‘You need to go,’“ said Melinda Seymour. “By that time, the police had already been called.”

Dodd, 50, (pictured) was holding an arrowhead-type knife when a deputy found him standing in the middle of Progress Road, about a block from his faith-based halfway house at 507 N. Sommer Road, where he’d lived for about 2 1/2 months.

Read my full story here.

Luring suspect’s girlfriend: He’s innocent

The girlfriend of a Spokane Valley man accused of trying to lure teenage girls while masturbating in his car says he’s wrongly accused.

“I know 100 percent for a fact he didn’t do those things,” Marina Corbin told The Spokesman-Review. “I’m with him everyday.”

Michael J. McBride, 28, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of indecent exposure and one count of luring. He was arrested Oct. 6 after police aid two of three alleged victims identified him from a photo montage. Corbin said McBride plans to take the case to trial and will obtain phone records and witness statement to prove his innocence.

Police, however, say the case against McBride is solid. It began Sept. 22 when a 13-year-old girl said a man who was masturbating in his car asked if she wanted a ride home.

Another 13-year-old girl reported a similar incident Sept. 24, then another girl reported an incident that occurred Sept. 12. Detectives said they saw McBride in the area after a 911 caller reported a man trying to get a 14-year-old into his car. A police news release said McBride said he’d dropped off a student whom he couldn’t name, but Corbin said she knows the man McBride dropped off and said he’s willing to talk to police.

Police said a third victim who didn’t identify McBride in a photo montage accurately described his white Subaru, but Corbin said McBride’s Subaru is actually grey.

He remains in Spokane County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Arbitrator calls deputy’s force excessive

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A Spokane County Jail officer was properly fired last year for discourteous behavior and excessive force against an inmate, according to an arbitrator’s ruling. 

Any force used by Deputy Wayne S. Green, 42, (pictured) would have been excessive because there was no reason for it, arbitrator Luella Nelson ruled Thursday.

Green had requested the arbitration after a grievance filed by his union was denied, according to previous news accounts.

Nelson said a grainy, soundless surveillance video and the testimony of other officers indicated that Green turned on bar-fight suspect Daniel W. Clinger after an angry confrontation with Deputy Shawn Smith.

Read John Craig’s full story here

Past coverage:

June 5: Fired deputy faces charge

Site details sheriff’s helicopter activity

Hear a helicopter circling and wonder what it’s up to? You’re not alone.

To quench that curiosity, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office now will log the helicopter unit’s activities on its website. Click on the “Air Support Unit” link, then on “Incident Reports.”

“Area residents frequently contact media for information after hearing Air One circling their neighborhood at night or seeing it above during daytime searches,” the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Tuesday.

Crews will try to update the log at the end of each flight, although some sensitive material, such as assistance to active police investigations, won’t be included, the sheriff’s office said.

Spokane burglar stole more than gold

Dennis Miller had been collecting gold and silver coins since 1950, but this summer he began selling some to help finance a move to a retirement home.

Then Miller and his wife, Bette, returned home two months ago to find their basement ransacked and the coins missing. Although property crimes aren’t routinely investigated – and only a small percentage are ever solved – the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office located the suspected thief.

But so far, only three or four of the rare coins have been recovered. In this case, the Sheriff’s Office arrested Gary D. McCabe, 45, a prolific burglar who has three cases pending and property crime convictions that date back to 1976, when he was 12.

“This is downright personal,” said Miller, a 67-year-old retired highway engineer. “I was 7 years old when I started this collection.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Past coverage:

March 27, 2009: Arrests may crack burglaries.

Valley man accused of trying to lure girls

A 28-year-old man is accused of trying to lure teen girls into his car while masturbating near Spokane Valley schools.

Michael J. McBride was arrested just before noon Wednesday after two of three alleged victims identified McBride from a photo montage. He’s expected to appear in court today.

The investigation began Sept. 22 when a 13-year-old girl said a man stopped his car near East Marietta Avenue and North Center Road and asked if she wanted a ride home.

he girl said she could see the man masturbating and ran away, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Read my full story.

Witness sought in Valley jogger’s death

Detectives are looking for a witness who helped alert Spokane Valley authorities last month to an injured jogger who later died.

A motorist found retired pastor David W. Thorin, 71, at East Fourth Avenue and South Adams Road about 6:45 a.m. Sept. 18 with an “obvious head wound,” the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Medics described Thorin as “uncooperative and combative” and said he didn’t say how he’d been injured. He later died at a hospital.

Read my full story here.

Thorin is pictued above in July 2009 while volunteering at Spokane Valley Partners, a non-profit that runs the Valley Food Bank.

Houlihan arraigned; probe continues

A Spokane man shot by sheriff’s deputies two weeks ago pleaded not guilty to a single assault charge this week as investigators examined his medical records and searched the scene of the shooting for the second time.

Sean P. Houlihan, 37, is charged with first-degree assault after a friend said he fired a gun at him during an argument in the basement of Houlihan’s home at 909 E. Brentwood Drive on Sept. 16.

Sheriff’s deputies David Westlake (right) and Thad Schultz (left) fired several shots at Houlihan, striking him twice, after he returned to the home in his Dodge pickup.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said last week that Westlake has always said Houliahn fired no shots but Schultz believed Houlihan did fire shots. Investigators have said Houlihan faces two additional assault charges related to the confrontation with Schultz and Westlake, but prosecutors have not filed them.

“They are telling me the investigation is ongoing,” Houlihan’s lawyer, Robert Schiffner, said Wednesday. “But I suspect if they had hard evidence they would have charged him yesterday.”

Houlihan pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a single count of first-degree assault. He’s out of jail on $75,000 bond.

Lester J. Doyle, who argued with Houlihan earlier in the night, said the deputies were in the doorway of the home when twice ordered Houlihan to put is hands in air.

Doyle heard three shots but doesn’t believe they came form the deputies “because he was looking at the deputies when he heard the shots,” according to a search warrant.

Doyle, 33, said he heard Houlihan say “Oh, I’m hit. I’m down. I’m not doing anything,” according to the warrant, which was used to examine the shooting scene again Monday.

Investigators already recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the street near where Houlihan fell. They recovered a .40 caliber casing from the bed of the truck but have found no other casings. The state crime lab already has several bullets and fragments that were found next to the truck and in the truck.

“Immediately after Houlihan was shot, the deputies and medics repeatedly walked through the area where Houlihan was lying,” according to the warrant. “Casings from rounds fired by Houlihan could have easily been stepped on and forced deep into the grass or into the ground.”

Investigators recovered two bullets from the scene Monday. 

Then today, they obtained a search warrant for Houlihan’s medical records at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

WSP Detective Ryan Spangler wrote that he was hoping to establish “Houlihan’s position in reference to the Deputies at the time he was shot as it related to the injuries he received.”

Houlihan’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 27, but Schiffner said it likely will be postponed. “I doubt that the crime lab will have completed its tests by then,” he said.

Past coverage:

Oct. 1: Sheriff deputies haven’t changed their stories

Sept. 24: Shooting details get less certain

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept. 18: Deputies shoot, wound man

Valley crime spree lands man back in jail

A young man sentenced last month for property crimes is back in jail, accused of a car-prowling and window-breaking spree in Spokane Valley. 

The suspect, Chad A. Radden, 20, was spotted skateboarding away from Northwest Tire and Automotive, 324 N. Pines Road, as a business alarm sounded just before 1 a.m. Friday.

One witness said she saw him in the area of Main and Pines the same time she heard broken glass - police found him with a Game Boy stolen from a 2005 Nissan Murano in the 12500 block of East Main, according to court records.

Radden also is accused of smashing seven windows on a GMC bus parked at Raggedy Ann and Andy Child Care, 12504 E. Main. Police also believe he broke windows at Instyle Hair and Skin Car Studio and H & R Block, 321 N. Pines.

Surveillance video at Holiday Gas Station, 411 N. Pines, shows a man fitting Radden’s description trying to break out a window with a baseball bat, police said. Sheriff’s deputies who arrested Radden said he appeared intoxicatied. He remains in Spokane County Jail on $10,000 bond, charged with two counts of second-degree malicious mischief, two counts of third-degree malicious mischief, and single counts of car prowling, third-degree theft and minor in possession of alcohol by consumption.

Records show Radden was given two years probation and credited for 16 days served in jail after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary last month. He’s also on probation for a drunken driving charge in North Idaho and for second-degree vehicle prowling and hit-and-run attended vehicle convictions in Spokane County.

Sheriff: Deputies’ stories haven’t changed

Two deputies involved in a shooting last month near Wandermere have not changed their stories about what happened that night, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said. 

A search warrant stating that interviews with Deputies David Westlake and Thad Schultz indicate it’s possible Sean P. Houlihan didn’t initiate the gunfire Sept. 18 was misinterpreted, Knezovich said in an interview last week week.

Schultz and Sgt. Martin Tucker “are adamant and have always been adamant that they were shot at,” and Westlake has always said he doesn’t believe shots were fired at him, Knezovich said. 

The warrant, which was used to examine Houlihan’s Dodge pickup, said initial investigation “had not confirmed the statements of (Houlihan’s alleged assault victim) and both Deputies regarding shots fired at the Deputies.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 24: Deputies no longer assert that suspect fired first

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept. 18: Deputies shoot, wound man

Sheriff drops the wait in shooting probes

Investigators probing officer-involved shootings will no longer be required to wait at least 72 hours before interviewing Spokane County Sheriff’s Office employees.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich (pictured) announced the change Thursday, ending a departmental practice common at many law enforcement agencies but seen as contradictory and confusing outside of police circles.

The move comes amid continuing public outcry over the nine-day lapse between the Aug. 25 shooting of Spokane Valley pastor and businessman Wayne Scott Creach by Deputy Brian Hirzel, who was allowed to take a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas before being interviewed by detectives investigating the fatal encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Money-for-sex suspect out of jail on bond

A Spokane Valley man accused of offering young girls money for sex after posing as a young man on Internet is out of jail on $20,000 bond.

Bradley Thomas Oliver, 44, left the Spokane County Jail Wednesday about 5:50 p.m., a few hours after his lawyer told a judge he’d been unjustly arrested and that she was violating the law by imposing bond. 

“There simply is not one shred of evidence that he will commit a violent crime,” lawyer Phillip Wetzel told Superior Court Judge Annette Plese. He said Oliver should have been summonsed to an arraignment but instead was arrested at his work, which likely cost him his job.

Wetzel described Oliver as a Spokane resident since 1988 who owns a home and pays $500 each month in child support. He said Plese would be violating the law if she didn’t allow him to leave jail on his own recognizance.

Deputy Prosecutor Ed Hay had a short response: “We can (downplay) sexual abuse of a minor, your honor, but I’d ask you not to.”

Hay cited Oliver’s previous conviction for soliciting a prostitute. “These are indeed dangerous offenses to the young women involved and we’re concerned about what he might do in the community if he’s released,” the prosecutor said.

A woman who identified herself as the mother of Oliver’s children urged Plese to prohibit him from seeing their children.

Plese said Oliver is prohibited from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18 - including his own children. Wetzel said he may appeal the $20,000 bond also imposed by Plese.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Oliver in June after three girls said they agreed to meet a teen boy at Target, 13724 E. Sprague Ave., but were instead confronted by Oliver, who offered them each $200 for sex, according to court documents.

The girls, who had arranged the meeting through MySpace.com, declined and called police. Oliver allegedly asked for sex again through text messages.

Past coverage:

Sept. 28: Police: Man posed as teen boy online to lure girls

Deputy nominated for life-saving award

 A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy has been nominated for a Red Cross award for saving a man who drove into a South Hill swimming pool last winter.

Deputy Brandon Armstrong rescued a 76-year-old man from a sinking car after the motorist drove off Glenrose Road and into a swimming pool in February.

Armstrong dove in the pool, and firefighters helped pull the man to safety. He had suffered a medical emergency but survived, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Armstrong and the firefighters, who were not identified in a Sheriff’s Office news release, are candidates for the American Red Cross Water Safety Hero Award.

Winners will be recognized at the annual Honoring Hometown Heroes luncheon, Nov. 10 at Northern Quest Resort and Casino.

Tips sought on purse theft at Spokane spa

Spokane County sheriff’s detectives are asking for help identification a woman who stole a spa employee’s purse last month.

The victim was working at Planet Beach Contempo Spa at 12908 N. Highway 395 Aug. 29th when a woman snatched her purse from behind the counter.

Stolen checks were later forged at the Wandermere Fred Meyer gas station. Surveillance cameras captured images of a young woman wearing sandals, a turquoise tank top and jean shorts.

Anyone with information on her identity is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Stories change in deputy shooting probe

Deputies who initially said an armed assault suspect fired on them before they shot back, wounding him last week, now say they’re unsure if the man shot at them at all. 

The newly disclosed doubts over who fired first in the Sept. 16 showdown are contained in investigative documents filed in Spokane County Superior Court.

Investigators recovered no forensic evidence at the scene corroborating the deputies’ initial statements that “multiple shots” had been fired at them, and in subsequent interviews with Washington State Patrol investigators this week the deputies have acknowledged it’s possible the suspect didn’t fire his gun.

Either way, deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) say they feared that hostile fire was imminent.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 22: No conclusion in shooting probe

Sept: 18 Deputies shoot, wound man

Reagan: No update on shot pregnant lady

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation into last week’s shooting of an unarmed pregnant woman by a Washington State Patrol sergeant, said Monday it had no idea whether the woman was still in the hospital, whether her condition was improving or if she’d given birth.

Sgt. Dave Reagan, the department’s spokesman, said he didn’t check on the woman’s condition because the primary focus of the sheriff’s office probe is on the shooting, adding that he lacks the authority to publicly disclose her identity because a separate law enforcement agency is in charge of the investigation into alleged drug activity at her home.

Meanwhile, the woman’s family declined comment Monday but a Spokane TV station reported that labor was induced at a local hospital and that she gave birth over the weekend. The woman, who was 39 weeks pregnant, was shot once in the shoulder area Friday while investigators served a search warrant at her apartment, 1405 N. Lincoln.

Past coverage:

Sept. 24: WSP sergeant shoots unarmed pregnant woman

WSP: Details expected today on shooting

More information is expected to be relased today regarding the deputy-involved shooting in north Spokane County last week.

Although witnesses at the scene of the Thursday night shooting said Spokane County sheriff’s Deputies Thad Schultz (left) and David Westlake (right) were fired on first by assault suspect Sean P. Houlihan, investigators are awaiting forensic analysis of firearms found in Houlihan’s pickup before concluding whether Houlihan also fired shots, according to a probable cause affidavit signed on Saturday by Washington State Patrol Trooper Ryan Spangler.

Wasington State Patrol spokesman Trooper Troy Briggs said Wedneday that both deputies have been interviewed. He plans to release more details this afternoon.

A Moses Lake lawyer representing Houlihan said he’s hoping forensics will help determine what happened, but he also said Houlihan and the deputies all were carrying a Glock 9 mm.

Read the full story here.

Past coverage:

Sept: 18 Deputies shoot, wound man

Mont. man’s drug binge ends in Spokane

A Great Falls, Mont., man who told Spokane police he was on a seven-month drug binge is accused of an armed robbery that led detectives to a suspected stolen vehicle ring.

Ronald J. Schneider, 38, (left) and his girlfriend, Jeanette E. Menghini, 43, (right) are accused of breaking into a disabled man’s motel room at knifepoint on Sept. 10, then stealing his 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, prescription drugs and $6,000, according to court documents filed this week. 

Spokane County detectives found him with a motorcycle stolen in Great Falls - leading detectives there to travel to Spokane to interview the suspect.

Schneider led Great Falls police to several locations in the north central Montana town which were searched last week, according to The Great Falls Tribune. Police recovered at least six vehicles in Spokane that had been stolen from Great Falls, the paper reported.

Police there said about 20 additional arrests are expected.

Also arrested in Spokane was Daniel A. Wakeford, who allegedly possesed a stolen motorcycle.

Schneider told police he’d spent the last seven months high on methamphetamine, OxyContin “or anything he can get his hands on,” according to a search warrant.

Schneider also said a man named Kentucky alerted him to an old man at the Airway Express Motel, 3809 S. Geiger Blvd., with cash and prescription medication, according to the warrant.

The warrant authorized Spokane County sheriff’s detectives to search a white 1998 Doge Ram truck, license plate JIMSRYD. Motel employees alerted detectives to the truck after Thomas A. Scharp, 53, who’s lived at the motel for about two years, said he’d been robbed at knife point.

Schneider reportedly confessed to the robbery and said he and Menghini planned to “hide out” at Northern Quest Casino but were stopped in the parking lot by police. Scharp “positively and unhesitatingly” identifiied the two, according to a probable cause affidavit prepared by police.

The couple is to be arraigned Wednesday.

Schneider remains in the Spokane County Jail; Menghini and Wakeford were released last week because neither has been formally charged.

Hirzel’s order to drop gun was lawful

Although the Constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms, state laws passed since then dictate how citizens can legally carry and use weapons.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker and other legal experts say the law is crystal clear on this point: A person must follow a lawful order from police.

“When an officer asks you to drop a weapon, you drop it,” Tucker said this week. “Even in the Old West, if a deputy sheriff comes up on an outlaw and says ‘Drop the gun,’ you drop the gun or a gunbattle starts.”

But Alan Creach, son of Wayne Scott Creach, who was killed Aug. 25, said it’s also clear that his father was no “outlaw,” and was well within his rights to carry a gun to protect his property as he had done for years.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse’s story here.

Sept. 17: Police report details pastor’s shooting

Reports detail Pastor Creach’s gun use

Pastor Wayne Scott Creach not only routinely carried his .45 caliber pistol on his property, he was known by police to hold theft suspects at gunpoint until officers could arrive and once chased a fleeing suspect several blocks before apprehending him by threatening to “blow his head off.” 

That report was among the 21 contacts Spokane County Sheriff’s Office deputies had with Creach or his business, the Plant Farm, over the last five years, according to records obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

On April 14, 2008, for example, Creach saw someone just after midnight riding away on a bicycle from his nursery complex at 14208 E. 4th Ave. in Spokane Valley with what looked like a plant hanging out of the suspect’s backpack.

Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.

Cops raid pot shop 100 ft from WSP office

A Greenacres man who operated a medical marijuana dispensary about 100 feet from a Washington State Patrol office could face felony drug charges in the latest example of Spokane County’s tough stance on the confusing voter-approved law.

Paul E. Ellis, 52, was described by detectives as eager and talkative when they approached him at his dispensary, Med Mar Dis, at 7604 E. Sprague Ave., last month. He showed them his marijuana, explained how he tracks his transactions with about 200 customers and invited them to his home to see his marijuana crop.

The detectives accepted his invitation – then contacted Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso, who has long argued that anyone distributing medical marijuana to more than one patient is violating state law.

Read the rest of my story here.

Oct. 19: New federal orders have no effect on Spokane pot raids

Sept. 14: Protesters ask to keep medical marijuana dispensaries open

Sept. 10: Police arrest medical pot dispensary owners

Aug. 26: Medical marijuana seller busted during buying trip

June 28: Pot’s legal ambiguity clouds law enforcement

Sheriff ruing flap over deputy’s vacation

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is frustrated and caught off-guard by the public reaction to the decision to allow Deputy Brian Hirzel to leave for vacation just hours after he shot and killed a Spokane Valley pastor late last month. 

Knezovich acknowledges that everything with his department ultimately is his responsibility. But he believes he’s been unfairly portrayed in the decision to allow Hirzel to leave town before explaining the encounter that resulted in the death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach.

Hirzel “was already on vacation when I found out he was on vacation,” Knezovich said. “How do I un-ring that bell? I could have said bring him back in. But I would have just countermanded everything that the (investigative) team had done. That was not my role in the investigation. My role was to stay out of it and not influence it.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.