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Police chief testifies in Olympia

From Jim Camden at Spin Control:

OLYMPIA — Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was among law enforcement brass who told said they should be allowed to fire an officer who lies without fear of being overruled by an arbitrator.

Kirkpatrick joined sheriffs from King and Chelan counties who supported SB 6590, which was drafted to clarify a problem with state law raised in by a recent state Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling overturned the firing of an officer for lying, saying the there was no explicit state policy that requires an officer to be truthful, so firing him was arbitrary. An officer would have to be lying about a “material fact” in a case, Kirkpatrick said.

An arbitrator should be able to rule on whether the department meets all the standards set down in the disciplinary process, she added; but if that’s done, the decision to fire or not fire shouldn’t be overturned by the arbitrator.

Read more at Spin Control.

Police: Gun in homicide belonged to felon

A gang member involved in a fatal shooting five years ago is accused of possessing the gun that was used to kill a man outside a north Spokane party 10 days ago, newly filed documents alleged.

ahdwEric Burton Jr.,Ö is charged with illegal weapons possession after police determined a semiautomatic rifle used to kill John S. Williams, III on Jan. 17 belonged to Burton. Burton, 24, has previous felony convictions that prohibit him from possessing owning firearms.

Burton was arrested two days after the slaying murder but is free on $10,000 bail. No charges have been filed in Williams’ death — the city’s first homicide this year — and detectives haven’t determined who killed him.

Police found Williams, 38, dead in an alley outside an apartment building at 5405 N. Crestline about 3:40 a.m., then spotted Burton running into an apartment, according to court documents.

He volunteered to be taken to the police station for questioning, where he told police he’d driven a rented 2008 Nissan Altima to the party. Police had found the gun used to kill Williams in the back of that Altima.

The car was rented to Burton’s girlfriend, Lacey L. MeachamÖ, 27, according to court documents. Burton reportedly told police he’d driven the car back to the party alone.

About 40 people had gathered at 5405 N. Crestline, apartment 3, for a birthday party that night before fights broke out and shots were fired, witnesses told police.

One man told police he’d heard two or three gunshots “and then heard someone saying ‘What did I do? What did I do?,’” according to a search warrant.

The man then saw a man matching the description of Burton try to enter apartment 3 three before entering a nearby unit.

A defense lawyer listed in court records for Burton, Christian Phelps, did not return an after-hours phone call seeking comment.

Burton was convicted of second-degree assault in 2005 for the New Year’s Day murder of 24-year-old Calvin Banks, who police said was a rival gang member. Burton was first charged with second-degree murder but took a plea deal that gave him a year in prison.

This year’s shooting victim, Williams, was at the birthday party on Crestline with his 21-year-old son, police said.

Williams was enrolled at the Spokane Community College Apprenticeship and Journeyman Training Center, according to a March 2009 newspaper article. He joined the painters union and praised the training he’d received but told the newspaper he needed to “clock hours” to have insurance coverage for his family.

“It’s hard right now,” he said. “There’s no work out there.”

Another charged in crime spree shooting

Another man has been accused of a shooting that left a teenager wounded and began a crime spree that included shots fired at a Spokane police officer.

Greg Sharkey, Jr., 25, (left) is due in Spokane County Superior Court today on 10 counts of first-degree attempted murder, the sames charges facing 20-year-old Tony E. Dawson.

Police say the men each fired shots at a group of 10 people outside a house party in the 1100 block of W. Frederick Avenue on Dec. 22. A party-goer apparently had shined a laser pointer at the men, according to court documents. Witnesses told police one of the men said “west side” before firing several shots.

Police found shell casings from a .45-caliber handgun - the same gun Dawson is accused of using to shoot at Officer Kristopher Honaker early the next morning. Honaker had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting. Detectives don’t believe the group drove back to the shooting scene on purpose.

Detectives later learned Sharkey also had fired shots at that group, but he used a .38 caliber Rossi revolver that didn’t leave behind shell casings, Lt. Dave McGovern said today.

Dawson, (right) Sharkey and Margaret D. Shults, 22, are accused of stealing a Suburban minutes before Dawson fired shots at Honaker. Police don’t believe Sharkey had anything to do with that shooting other than being in the Suburban at the time, McGovern said.

Court documents detailing the investigation show the shootings appear to be orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”

She said at one point, Dawson took two guns from his waistband and compared himself to the famous politically minded bandit (a dreadfully inaccurate comparison), declaring “I’m Jesse (expletive deleted) James.”

Past coverage: Accused shooter acted like ‘Jesse James’

Man, 20, accused of shooting at police

Police officer targeted by gunman

One dead in weekend shooting

Police have seized guns and drugs as part of their probe into the city’s first homicide this year, a suspected gang-related shooting early Sunday in a north Spokane alley.

Multiple shots were fired after fighting partygoers spilled from an apartment at 5403 N. Crestline St. into the muddy alley. The gunfire killed a 38-year-old man, whom friends and neighbors identified as John Williams.

Neighbors said it sounded like fireworks as at least 15 bullets riddled garages and fences.

“I sprang out of bed when I realized it was gunshots. It freaked me out, so I made sure my doors were locked,” said Aimee Kowell, who lives with her three school-age boys across the alley.

Read the rest of John Stucke’s story here.

SWAT team nabs robbery suspect

A man police believe robbed a coffee stand was arrested Friday after a SWAT team standoff.

Shawn Michael Westlie, 41, hid inside a home in the 2100 block of Montgomery Avenue in west Spokane when police arrived about 3:30 p.m. but surrendered about 90 minutes later without incident, said Officer Glenn Bartlett.

Detectives believe Westlie robbed Best Espresso, 5226 N. Division St., at gunpoint Wednesday, Bartlett said.

The robber had a silver handgun and matched the description of a would-be robber earlier that day at the Jack in the Box restaurant at Hawthorne Road and North Division about 3 miles away, but police don’t know if the crimes are connected, Bartlett said.

“We’re definitely looking into it,” Bartlett said. Police didn’t find a gun on Westlie Friday but were preparing to search the home about 6 p.m.

Westlie has a history of burglary and theft dating back to at least 1997, according to news archives.

His most recent conviction was in February 2009 when he pleaded guilty to third-degree theft and was credited for 21 served in jail and put on probation for a year.

He made the news a couple of times in the late 90s.

Click the link below to read the (brief) items.

New police dogs ready for patrol

Rico sprang out of the police cruiser and demonstrated a takedown he’d perfected during more than 400 hours of training with the Spokane Police Department.

The 3-year-old Belgian Malinois (left) grabbed the pad-covered arm of the provoking deputy and didn’t let go. He was demonstrating today at the Spokane Police training center in honor of his graduation from K-9 school.

Joining him were two German Shepards: Ayk, with the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office, and Iron, with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. 

The three dogs are the latest graduates of the Spokane police K-9 school and soon will begin patrol duties with trained handlers.

“Anything that a patrolman can do, we can do safer with the dogs,” said Okanogan County Deputy Tait Everett.

Trainers say the dogs’ keen sense of smell makes them ideal for tracking suspects and recovering evidence. They’ve undergone intense obedience training and have practiced takedowns, tracks and chases.

A 15-year veteran, Everett will work with Ayk (pronounced Ike) as a replacement for a dog that retired in April. Rico, a former Naval Special Forces K-9, will work with Sgt. Troy Teigen.

Iron will work with Kootenai County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Nelson.

Rico was donated to the Spokane police. Ayk and Iron cost between $7,500 and $10,000.

Rico will be the sixth patrol dog in the Spokane Police Department. Two other dogs are trained on narcotics detection.

Two puppies, Ajax and Alex, remain in the Spokane police K-9 puppy training program.

Past coverage:

Police training awaits donated puppy

Man sought in north Spokane rape

A 16-year-old girl was raped last Friday near the NorthTown Mall, and police are looking for help finding the assailant.

The rape occurred during the middle of the afternoon, police said. Police said the rapist was last seen by residents walking west toward the mall from Mayfair Street and Walton Avenue, east of the mall.

The man described as white, in his late teens to early 20s, skinny with sunken cheeks, short hair and bright green eyes. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, baseball hat and jeans.

The police sexual assault unit is handling the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call (800) 222-8477 or 327-5111.

Police union backs Thoma

The Spokane police union is asking the department to reinstate and give back pay to a sergeant fired after a drunken hit and run crash.

A grievance notice was sent to Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, Assistant Chief Jim Nicks and Human Resources Director Dave Chandler Dec. 30. Kirkpatrick sent Bradley N. Thoma a formal letter of termination that same day.

Thoma, 44, (right) was fired after refusing an offer from Kirkpatrick to accept a layoff and be eligible to be rehired as a detective if he completes a court deferral program for his drunken driving charge. In the meantime, the city would work with Thoma to determine if he was eligible for other positions.

That offer came after Kirkpatrick ruled that Thoma was unable to work as a police officer under the court program because it requires him to have an ignition interlock device on his car.

But that decision was wrong because it didn’t rightfully considers Thoma’s alcoholism as a disability, said Thoma’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.

Dunn filed a $4 million claim against the city of Spokane, claiming Thoma was wrongfully fired because he’s an alcoholic.

A handful of citizens (pictured above) protested the lawsuit outside his downtown Spokane office today.

A letter Dunn sent Tuesday to Kirkpatrick shows he’s confident he’ll prevail.

“Firing someone without pay for two years, then suggesting he would be “eligible” to re-apply at that time without guaranteed rehire, doesn’t constitute an accommodation,” Dunn wrote. “If that is the legal advice you are receiving, it arrogantly ignores how police departments across the country are dealing with this stress related, police culture disability and what the experts have to say about necessary departmental intervention and/or prevention efforts for this disease.”

He predicted the litigation will result in Thoma’s reinstatement with damages awarded.

Past coverage:

Thoma files $4 million claim against city

Police sergeant avoids prosecution

Police: ‘Ninja’ biker tried to tow away SUV

Spokane police sent to check out a vehicle prowler at a North Side apartment complex this morning discovered a man with a long criminal history trying to steal a Chevrolet Suburban by towing it away.

The call turned into a chase with man police identified as Daniel F. Humphrey, 33, who was arrested after crashing into another vehicle when he ran a red light at Rowan Avenue and Nevada Street about 5:45 a.m. The driver of the second vehicle had minor injuries.

Humphrey, described in a news release as “widely known to the police for his criminal activities,” was booked into Spokane County jail on charges of vehicular assault and attempting to elude an officer.

Police said he was driving a Jeep Cherokee and unhooked the Jeep from the Suburban before taking off on the chase near Lincoln Road and Napa Street.

Humphrey was arrested last summer after police say he eluded them twice while riding a lime green Kawasaki VX12 Ninja motorcycle with a shortened muffler that made the bike very loud.

Police ended two chases because they were too dangerous and accused Humphrey of driving more than 100 mph in a 30 mph zone. He was arrested at his home July 30, according to court documents.

Humphrey’s criminal record dates back to at least 1992 and includes 20 convictions for driving with a suspended license and four for attempting to elude police.

He also has convictions for theft, escape, burglary and drug possession.

Accused shooter acted ‘like Jesse James’

A gunman fires into a crowd, hitting a teenager in the back. A carjacker beats a driver with a gun, trying to force her out of her car. Thieves steal an SUV and one of them later fires shots at a police officer.

Spokane police now believe the events of Dec. 22 and 23 are part of a crime spree instigated by a man a friend described as “acting like Jesse James.”

Tony E. Dawson, 20, already was in Spokane County Jail in connection with the attempted carjacking when police say they connected him to the Dec. 23 attack on Officer Kristopher Honaker, who had been guarding the scene of the earlier shooting.

Dawson now faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree robbery, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and 10 counts of first-degree assault. If convicted, he could be sent to prison for decades.

“It was all one series of events,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern. 

Also charged are Margaret D. Shults, 22, (left) accused of first-degree robbery; and Greg Sharkey, Jr., 25, accused of attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree robbery.

A fingerprint on a Ford Bronco, which was targeted by thieves before a Chevrolet Suburban was stolen, helped link Dawson to the crimes, police said.

Interviews led detectives to Shults and Sharkey, (bottom right) who reportedly admitted to stealing the Suburban with Dawson from the 1600 block of East Rowan Avenue early Dec. 23.

Court documents detailing the investigation show the shootings appear to be orchestrated by Dawson, who Shults said had been carrying two handguns the night of the shooting and “was acting like Jesse James.”

Shults, who police say was driving the Suburban, told investigators Dawson ordered her at gunpoint to keep driving, then fired several shots at the officer.

Dawson reportedly threatened Shults that if she stopped the vehicle, “he had no problem killing either Shults or Sharkey,” documents state.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read previous coverage here.

Search ends with suspect still at large

Police searched the area of Sharp Avenue and Stone Street in east central Spokane today for a man wanted on a state Department of Corrections warrant.

Officers didn’t find Joshua A. Jackson, 31, and ask anyone who knows where he is to call 911. Police were responding to a home after a friend of Jackson’s girlfriend called with concerns about her safety.

“We talked to her but we haven’t found him,” said Officer Glenn Bartlett.

Police say Jackson has made threatening statements to police in the past. “That’s why we amped up the response,” Bartlett said.

Jackson is on probation after pleading guilty to unlawful imprisonment (domestic violence) in February, according to news archives. He also was sentenced to a year in jail.

In December 2007, he was sentenced to six months in jail for cyberstalking (threatening to kill).

Dragging death still unsolved

Ten months since their daughter was found dead in a Spokane street, dragged more than 13 blocks by a driver who has never been found, and the questions remain: How? Why? And, above all, who?

“I have a hard time with it, especially on Mother’s Day and her birthday,” Vicky Littell said. “I just don’t know how anyone could hit someone and drag them a mile and not know it.” 

Susette G. Werner, who would have turned 43 on Dec. 12, was struck near Cedar Street and Carlisle Avenue early Feb. 8.

Her body was found on Ash Street just north of Maxwell Avenue, where a memorial of flowers still stands. Police think she was dragged from Cedar to Northwest Boulevard, then south onto Ash, where the body was found.

But detectives have few clues, and what investigators at one point thought could be their big break has fizzled.

Read the rest of my story here.

Read a previous story here.

Spokane cop shooter still at large

A gunman fired several rounds at a Spokane police officer early this morning, missing the officer but striking his patrol car.

The shooting occurred as the officer, who has not been identified, was guarding the scene of a shooting several hours earlier in the 1100 block of West Frederick.

The gunman has not been identified, and detectives from the drug, gang and major crimes units are poring over tips, said spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

“Just definitely protect yourself,” DeRuwe said. “If they’re going to shoot at us, they’re not going to hesitate to shoot at the community.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Thoma files $4 million claim

A Spokane police sergeant fired after a drunken hit and run crash filed a $4 million claim against the city of Spokane Wednesday, claiming he was wrongfully fired because he’s an alcoholic.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, was fired Monday after refusing an offer from Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to accept a layoff and be eligible to be rehired as a detective if he completes a court deferral program for his drunken driving charge.

That offer came after Kirkpatrick ruled that Thoma was unable to work as a police officer under the court program because it requires him to have an ignition interlock device on his car.

But that decision was wrong because it didn’t rightfully considers Thoma’s alcoholism as a disability, said Thoma’s lawyer, Bob Dunn.

“This is about as unfair an employment practice as I’ve seen in a long time,” Dunn said. “The only thing I can think of that’s more unfair is firing someone who has cancer.”

Read the rest of my story: Thoma files $4 million claim against city.

Read the claim here.

Sergeant in drunken hit and run fired

A police sergeant involved in a drunken hit and run crash in September has been fired.

Bradley N. Thoma, 44, is no longer with the Spokane Police Department as of Monday, police said today.

Thoma, a 20-year police veteran, will avoid criminal prosecution for the Sept. 17 crash if he stays out of trouble for five years under an agreement approved in District Court in November.

But the agreement requires him to use a breathalyser device to start his car, and Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said that prohibits him “from completing the duties of a police officer.”

” A valid driver’s license without restrictions is essential for the job,” Kirkpatrick said in a prepared statement.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:: Police sergeant avoids prosecution

Man accused of threatening to kill police

A man accused of threatening to kill Spokane police has been arrested by U.S. Marshals.

Shawn Michael Buroker, 21, was taken into custody Thursday in Asotin County, Wash.

Buroker was sentenced in January to three years probation for conspiracy to commit burglary in Nez Perce County.

He moved to Washington in March under an interstate supervision agreement.

Buroker reportedly threatened to kill the Spokane police officers that he believes killed his father, Ira Shawn Buroker, in Spokane eight years ago.

Read about Ira Buroker’s deah here.

‘He saved many children’

Jerry Keller retired last week after 36 years as a Spokane police officer. For 20 of those years, he was a detective in the sexual assault unit.

He interviewed hundreds of suspects and hundreds of their young victims. He has come to understand pedophilia as a form of evil. Yet Keller did not end his career a cynical man.

“He worked on the most horrifying cases, where you turned over a rock and thought you had one victim and you had generations of children,” said Spokane District Court Judge Patti Walker, who worked with Keller when she was a deputy prosecutor. “He saved many children.”

Read the rest of Becky Nappi’s story here.

Woman struck on Division Street dies

A woman who was struck by another driver after she crashed her car and tried crossing Division on foot last month has died.

Micheala Larson, 38, died Dec. 3, Spokane police announced today. She was northbound on Division Street on Nov. 20 when she lost control and struck a median about 75 feet north of Walton Avenue.

Larson got out of the car and was talking on her cell phone when she was struck in the roadway by another driver. No charges were filed. 

The crash occurred the same night that a Canadian woman in town on a shopping trip was struck by a suspected drunken driver in downtown Spokane.

Elaine Price-Cornell, 63, died Nov. 28.

Cameron B. Olsness, 24, (left) is charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit and run. He’s been out of jail since Dec. 8 on $50,000 bond. (Read more here.)

Pot law proposal postponed

Marijuana advocates won’t have a chance of seeing relaxed enforcement of pot laws in Spokane anytime soon.

A ballot initiative seeking to make marijuana offenses the “lowest law enforcement priority” has legal issues with its language that supporters wanted to address before presenting it to the Spokane City Council.

The council voted Monday to postpone a hearing on the initiative “indefinitely.”

Proposed initiatives are reviewed by the city attorney’s office, who assists in developing the language of the ballot title and summary, and offers a legal opinion to the council.

The council is then asked to either put it on the ballot, or have the petition supporters gather signatures from the public. The marijuana initiative was filed with the Spokane city clerk on Nov. 4.

Read background here.

Sgt. Jim Faddis retires

Good morning, Netizens…


A rumor that I heard two weeks ago, that Sgt. Jim Faddis of the Spokane Police Department was seen in City Hall in an area where he would have been inquiring about his retirement benefits, is true. It was confirmed yesterday by a story about the retirement of Detective Jerry Keller, here: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2009/dec/13/no-longer-a-lawman-but-still-an-advocate/


Detective Faddis has retired, and although I will not speculate on how long he has been a police officer, nor how many awards he has won for excellence, this brings to a close the unfortunate personal relationship between he and I. I first met Sgt. Jim Faddis when he was playing Bluegrass Music at various events throughout a three-state area. He was one of the most-gifted musicians I had met in several decades, with a dead-on “high lonesome” voice valued by Bluegrass aficionados and had a repertoire covering a wide variety of musical genres, from Rock and Roll to Folk, Bluegrass and back again.


He eventually began posting in Community Comment, and despite the number of vituperative comments made about Police Officers, he and several other officers for a brief period of time gave our readers a meaningful insight into how police perceive the public, something that is still desperately needed today.


In retrospect, Jim Faddis was a good cop. I truly will miss him, but I imagine he is putting as much distance between himself and the Spokane Police Department as he can.


Dave

Funeral today for Lakewood officers

Dozens of area law enforcement are taking part in the funeral procession for the slain Lakewood police officers in Western Washington today.

The Spokane Police Honor Guard traveled with officers from the Cheney Police Department on Monday.

The Coeur d’Alene Police Honor Guard was joined by representatives of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department (Deputy Gavin Brodwater is pictured above), the Post Falls Police Department and the Idaho State Police in a procession Monday as they traveled to the service, which will be held in the Tacoma Dome.

At least two dozen Spokane police employees will attend, said Officer Tim Moses.

“I know a lot of people took off on their own time to go over there,” Moses said.

One of the slain officers, Tina Griswold, was the sister of Tiffiny Ryan, who works in the Spokane police records division. (Read a story here.)

The memorial is expected to draw an estimated 20,000 officers from police delegations as far away as New York.

The four officers were gunned down in a coffee shop at the start of their shift.

Besides Griswold, 40, Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39, and Officers Ronald Owens, 37, and Greg Richards, 42, were killed.

(Pictured from left to right and top to bottom are Richards, Griswold, Owens and Renninger.)

Compassion for all…

Good morning, Netizens…


I am not going to waste a lot of breath this morning, mourning the passage of Maurice Clemmons. There are enough facts in place to convince me he was the sole gunman who killed the four Lakewood Police Officers in a coffee shop and ultimately was killed by a Seattle Police officer.


There are several things about this tragic loss of human lives, however, which bear close scrutiny and further introspection. I am already sick to death of hearing the comparisons between the deaths of both the four police officers and Maurice Clemmons as having any association whatsoever with the death of Otto Zehm. The Zehm case stands as a travesty of justice, one which time perhaps will bring to closure. Unfortunately that remains to be seen. Zehm’s death created a huge rift in our community between our police and the public they serve. It created a credibility chasm which still is being resolved.


The killing of four Lakewood Police Officers was premeditated, calculated murder; nothing more, nothing less. Clemmons had bragged to his associates before-the-fact for them to watch the news, because he was going to kill some cops, and he did. If an alert, aware Seattle Police Officer had not been on guard, Clemmons might have claimed yet another victim.


Tiffany Ryan, who works in the Spokane Police Department records division, as the sister of slain Lakewood Police Officer Tina Griswold, became a bystander to chaos. I think this video, courtesy of the Spokesman-Review, speaks more eloquently about the heartbreak and sadness she is enduring than anything I could say.


http://www.spokesman.com/video/2009/nov/30/tiffany-ryan-speaks-about-loss-her-sister/


If you watch this video closely you will undoubtedly detect a note of emotional support and compassion between Chief Kirkpatrick and Tiffany Ryan, as is rightfully so. This wellspring of humanity between our Chief of Police and one of her own is a breath of fresh air, in my opinion, and needs to be extended to the general public who fall far outside her department in some cases.

We should not stop at the borders of the Police Department with compassion and understanding at all.

Dave

Shoe print on beating victim leads to suspects

A shoe print on the face of a man badly beaten in a Spokane alley helped detectives identify two teenage suspects, according to court documents filed today.

Kent S. Moses, 60, was found unconscious and bloody in an alley near Bridge Avenue and Nettleton Street in west Spokane about 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Two 17-year-old boys are in Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center on first-degree assault charges after being arrested Monday. Police don’t believe the boys used weapons.

“They beat him to a bloody pulp, just with their feet and hands,” said Spokane police Officer Jennifer DeRuwe. “It was a pretty sad deal.”

A search warrant filed today shows detectives found a cell phone near the crime scene with a picture of a man gang enforcement detectives recognized. That man led them to the suspects, one who had a shoe that matched a print found on Moses’ face, according to the search warrant.

One of the boys told police he knew they’d gotten into a fight in the alley but that he’d “blacked out from drinking and could not recall anything else,” police wrote.

Moses is in serious condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center with face fractures and three broken ribs, according to the warrant.

Gunpoint Zip Trip robbery netted $66

A holdup at a convenience store netted the gunman and two accomplices $22 each, according to court documents.

Joseph R. Giordanella, 24, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court Monday after being arrested last week for the Sept. 29 robbery of the Zip Trip, 3030 E. Euclid Ave.

But court documents show police don’t think Giordanella was at the crime scene, nor did he get any money out of the holdup. 

Instead, they say he supplied the .380 caliber gun used by Christopher R. Walinski, who is charged with first-degree robbery along with Justin J. Ellery, 24, (right). A third accomplice is named in court documents but hasn’t been charged.

Walinski, 25, told police Giordanella had let him borrow the gun. Giordanella, who is in jail on $35,000 bond, told police he didn’t know where it was, according to court documents.

“(Detectives) advised Giordanella that if he was untruthful regarding the location of the firearm, he would be charged with robbery,” according to the documents “…Giordanella said he was contacting an attorney and that he had not given Walinski the handgun and instead the group had stolen it from him.”

Giordanella faces the same charges as Walinski and Ellery: first-degree robbery and second-degree assault, which stems from a clerk having a gun pointed at her.

Ellery also is accused of a gunpoint robbery at Papa Johns, 900 East Indiana, on Sept. 28. Detectives say he spent the $160 he got on heroin. Walinski told police Ellery planned to rob the Zip Trip but “(w)ussed out” and stayed in the car, according to court documents.

See videos of the Zip Trip robbery here.

The clerks described the gunman has having pale skin and “very pretty blue eyes.” The accused gunman, Walinski, is pictured to the left. You decide on the eyes.

Wal-Mart wallet snatcher sought

Police are searching for a woman caught on video surveillance stealing another woman’s wallet at a northwest Spokane Wal-Mart store.

The victim was being helped at the customer service desk at Wal-Mart, 2301 W. Wellesley, about 10 p.m. Nov. 18, when the thief took the wallet out of the woman’s purse.

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

Mother arrested in bus plaza assault

An anonymous tip led Spokane police today to arrest the woman accused of assaulting her 3-year-old son at the downtown bus plaza.

Keyana L. Key, 28, was hiding with her three young children at an apartment at 1400 N. Lincoln when police arrived about 4 p.m.

Police say her sister, Aletha A. Robinson, 38, was helping Key hide and was arrested on a second-degree rendering criminal assistance charge. Key was jailed on one count of second-degree assault of a child.

“The 3-year-old victim appeared lethargic and was transported to a local hospital for tests to determine injuries,” according to Spokane police. “Key’s two other children were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.”

Police on Thursday released video of the assault, leading to tips that took police to several addresses in Spokane today. The video shows a woman believed to be Key throwing the boy to the ground about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday after apparently missing a bus.

“The Spokane Police Department would like to thank the citizens who called in tips and helped us locate the suspect,” Tracie Meidl wrote in a news release. “If you believe a child has been assaulted or is being abused, please call Crime Check or 9-1-1 if it is an emergency.”

Police still looking for mother in bus plaza assault

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Police continue to seek tips on the identity of a woman who assaulted her child at the downtown bus plaza Wednesday morning.

Surveillance video shows the mother grabbing the toddler’s coat and kicking him or her to the ground about 7:30 a.m.

“She missed the bus so she took it out on him or her,” Officer Tim Moses said Thursday.

Witnesses told STA security about the assault.

“They pulled up the video and were kind of shocked at what they saw,” Moses said.

Police think the woman catches a bus in Spokane Valley near Indiana and Pines, then transfers to a bus going to the north side at the STA Plaza.

The woman was wearing a brown coat with a fur collar, blue jeans, a white shirt, black beanie and a long chain with a black pendant. She was pushing a large navy blue stroller covered with a white blanket. The assaulted child looked about 2 years old and wore a blue winter jumpsuit and blue beanie. Another child may have been in the stroller.

Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the woman’s arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call (800) 222-TIPS, or submit tips online at www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org. Tipsters do not have to give a name but should provide a code name or number.

Car chase suspect experienced in car chases

A man accused of leading police on a chase from Spokane to Post Falls this morning was arrested in March 2008 after a similar pursuit.

John D. Rovik, 29, was sentenced to 120 days in jail for attempting to elude a police officer last year.

About 4:15 a.m. today, Spokane police spotted a 2002 Buick Century driving erratically near Crestline and Sprague and chased the car on Interstate 90, where sheriff’s deputies used a spike strip to flatten the tires.

Read the rest of my story here.

Police sergeant avoids prosecution

A police sergeant was granted deferred prosecution for a drunken driving charge on Friday. Brad Thoma also had a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge (failure to remain at the scene of an accident-attended vehicle or other property) dismissed under the misdemeanor compromise statute.

He could have tried for deferred prosecution on the hit and run charge had it stuck. More than 90 percent of deferred prosecution cases are drunken driving charges, said Deputy Prosecutor Brian O’Brien. Prosecutors have little say in the procedure; they can object if someone doesn’t meet the requirements but the requirements are pretty all encompassing for first-time offenders.

“We don’t have an ability to really participate as advocates for or against,” O’Brien said.

The judge who approved this was Douglas Robinson, a visiting judge from Whitman County.

Robinson is in Spokane County District Court once every two months or so to hear cases that are deemed to have a conflict with regular Spokane County proceedings. (For example, Robinson also handled the sentencing Friday of a man accused of harassing a city of Spokane snow plow driver.)

Robinson, who later said he didn’t know Thoma was a police sergeant, praised Thoma for opting for the deferred prosecution.

Robinson called the deferred prosecution, which includes two years of intensive alcohol rehabilitation, “a wonderful opportunity.”

“It’s just a matter of how much dedication you want to give,” Robinson said. “If you take advantage of it you will look back from now and think this is one of the best decisions you’ve made.”

He dismissed the hit-and-run charge (the charge was not eligible to be a felony because the victim wasn’t injured) after reading a letter he said was from Prickett indicating she “is not interested in seeing the case pursued. They have been fully compensated,” Robinson said.

Prickett said she felt she was misled by lawyer Rob Cossey’s office regarding the intent of the letter.

Read more here.

Police: Thief crashes into car of woman, toddler

A suspected car prowler crashed into another driver during a police chase Wednesday, injuring the woman but not her 2-year-old child, Spokane police said.

Michael L. Bridges, 24, fled in a black Chevrolet Caprice after officers spotted him walking near Everett and Stone, according to Spokane police.

Officer Bob Collins pulled over and turned off his emergency lights at Perry and Rowan out of concerns for public safety, police said, but Bridges continued west on Rowan and crashed into an oncoming lane at Cincinnati about 10 a.m., police said. The Caprice ended up in the front yard of a nearby house.

Police arrested Bridges after a short foot chase and took him to a hospital with minor injuries. He was booked into Spokane County Jail on charges of attempting to elude police and failing to leave information at a collision.

Bridges is well known to police. He was with a 17-year-old who was arrested on Halloween with a stolen car, police said, and he was sentenced to 22 months in prison in January 2007 for second-degree burglary.

In January 2004, Bridges was sentenced to nine months in jail for second-degree burglary and first-degree possession of stolen property. He was arrested again In December 2004 after he jumped out of a moving stolen car and tried running from police, according to news archives. He served three months in jail.

Spokane has seen “a severe increase” in residential burglaries, vehicle thefts and vehicle prowlings, police said.

“Citizens are encouraged to take precautionary measures to help prevent themselves from being a victim,” according to a news release. “Anti-theft devices like the Club are available, as well as reminding citizens not to leave their vehicles running to warm the engines during the cold weather.”