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Creach shooting

Wayne Scott Creach was shot and killed by a Spokane Valley police officer late Wednesday at Creach’s Plant Farm, 14208 E. Fourth Ave., Spokane Valley.

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Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker will not bring charges against a sheriff’s deputy for fatally shooting an armed Spokane Valley pastor Aug. 25, 2010.

Tucker said Jan. 21, 2011, his decision in the shooting of Wayne Scott Creach came down to this fact: Deputy Brian Hirzel has more protection under the law than the average citizen.

“As soon as you feel you are in imminent danger, like drawing a gun, you are allowed to use deadly force,” Tucker said. Hirzel “was the only witness we had.”

It is one of the most controversial police shootings in Spokane County in years.

The Spokane Police Department, which was asked to investigate the shooting of the 74-year-old nursery owner, released its 733-page investigative file on Sept. 16. The file made no recommendation on whether the shooting was justified or if criminal charges should be filed against Hirzel, who is assigned to the Spokane Valley Police Department.

However, Tucker said state law clearly states that a person must follow a lawful order from police. “When an officer asks you to drop a weapon, you drop it,” he said. “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.”

Creach’s son, Alan Creach, has said his father was well within his rights to carry a gun to protect his property, as he had done for years.

Creach, who had gone to check on why a car was in his parking lot so late at night, died shortly after Hirzel shot him once in the chest during an encounter in the parking lot of the Creach family’s nursery and greenhouse complex at 14208 E. Fourth Ave.

Hirzel was in uniform but driving an unmarked patrol car that he had pulled into the nursery lot to watch for prowlers in the neighborhood. The 18-year law enforcement veteran said he was writing up a collision report about 11:07 p.m. when he saw the shirtless Creach approach with a gun in his right hand and a flashlight in his left.

Though no witnesses heard him, Hirzel said he ordered Creach five or six times to drop the gun. He said Creach replied that he didn’t have to and instead put the .45-caliber, semi-automatic pistol in his back waistband.

Hirzel said he ordered Creach to the ground, but the older man refused, and the deputy struck Creach in the leg with his baton using a backhand swing. Hirzel said Creach then reached for his gun and Hirzel fired when he saw the butt of the weapon.

Right after the shooting, Hirzel was allowed to take a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas – a fact that wasn’t revealed to the public for several days, and which prompted a public outcry. Nine days passed before detectives interviewed Hirzel about the shooting, and by then the deputy couldn’t recall several details about the fatal encounter, such as how close he was to the pastor when he shot him; how it happened that his patrol car’s spotlight was turned on and pointed in Creach’s direction; and whether his request for backup was made before or after the baton strike.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Hirzel was willing to talk the night of the shooting, but investigators were concerned about violating policies prohibiting interviews in critical incidents like officer-involved shootings within the first 72 hours. On Sept. 30, Knezovich announced a reversal of that practice, saying investigators probing officer-involved shootings no longer will be required to wait three days before interviewing employees of the sheriff’s office.

Latest updates in this topic

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.

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

No Discipline In Valley Pastor Killing

The deputy who shot a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor will face no disciplinary action over the fatal encounter. Deputy Brian Hirzel (of Hayden) properly followed all departmental policies and procedures during the fatal Aug. 25 encounter with Wayne Scott Creach, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said today 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 as well. The decision disappointed the Creach family. In an e-mail prior to his briefing with the sheriff, Alan Creach — the pastor’s son — again called for the sheriff to stop using unmarked cars on private property, a point of contention that family members believe contributed to the fatal encounter/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Are you surprised by the decision?

Clark: Tucker Right In Creach Case

So the verdict is finally in. Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker will NOT charge the sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed an elderly Spokane Valley pastor last August. Is it just me, or was Tucker’s Friday announcement the least surprising local news development since the street department’s admission that Spokane has a pothole problem? Seriously. Did anyone actually think that Tucker would ever take this cop case to a jury? I’ll tell you what is positively shocking, though. Now, I’ve shared my rather low regard for Tucker more than a time or two. (Insert golf-obsessed prosecutor joke here.) That said … I believe Tucker made the unavoidable and legally correct conclusion/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Clark that Prosecutor Steve Tucker made the right call in deciding not to prosecute Deputy Brian Hirzel of Hayden in the shooting of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach?

Hirzel, Creach decision will be next week

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker will announce next week whether Deputy Brian Hirzel will face criminal charges for shooting Pastor Wayne Scott Creach on Aug. 25 in Spokane Valley.

Spokane Police Department investigators met Tuesday to discuss the findings of a private investigator hired by the Creach family.

"In consideration of that meeting and whether there will be any ramifications for the criminal investigation, (Tucker) has decided to wait until next week to release the results of the investigation conducted by his office," according to a news release by Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter, Spokane County spokeswoman.

Tucker close to decision in Creach case

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker said Friday that he is close to making a decision on whether Deputy Brian Hirzel will face criminal charges for shooting Pastor Wayne Scott Creach on Aug. 25 in Spokane Valley. 

Tucker said Chief Deputy Criminal Prosecutor Jack Driscoll needs to review the report with Spokane Police Detective Brian Hamond early next week before handing it over for Tucker’s review.

“Also, I understand that SPD investigators are meeting on Tuesday to consider if any of the private investigators’ information has criminal/civil implications and needs further investigation before a final decision is made,” Tucker wrote in an e-mail responding to questions.

 Alan Creach, son of the slain pastor, reminded Tucker in a different e-mail Friday that he promised to meet with the family before announcing his decision.

Creach expressed concern that he has had no updates about the progress of the case from the prosecutor’s office.

No Penalty For Deputy In Sex-Toy Biz

The deputy who shot a Spokane Valley pastor will not face discipline for failing to disclose his co-ownership of a business that sold sex toys online. Spokane County Deputy Brian Hirzel (of Hayden, pictured) remains under investigation for the Aug. 25 shooting that killed Pastor Wayne Scott Creach near his home and greenhouse business in Spokane Valley. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich announced in September that he had assigned investigators to determine whether Hirzel broke department policy when he failed to disclose his co-ownership in a business called Vanessa Allure that was being operated out of his Hayden home.  “It was being run by his wife,” Knezovich said Friday. “Hirzel gave us full information. He didn’t hide anything. He said he helped set up the website but she ran it”/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Did the Spokane County sheriff and investigators make the right call in deciding not to discipline Deputy Hirzel for failing to disclose his role in an online sex-toy outlet?

Autopsy: No Baton Strike On Creach

According to the report, the bullet from Deputy Hirzel’s gun hit Creach in the chest, traveled through his heart, lungs and hit his liver. It was found lodged in his lower ribcage. The report mentions scrapes and bruises consistent with what Creach may have received working at The Plant Farm, but does not mention an injury consistent with a baton strike, which contradicts Hirzel’s testimony/Marissa Bagg, KXLY. More here.

Question: Hirzel said he struck Pastor Creach with a baton before Creach went for his gun. But the autopsy report doesn’t mention a wound consistent with that claim. What do you make of that?

Tucker: Pastor Should Have Dropped Gun

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/Thomas Clouse, SR. More here.

Question: Do you think it’s fair that someone defending his property is required by law to obey a law officer’s command to drop his gun?

MM: Sex Toy Angle Isn’t Relevant

RE: KXLY: Hirzel faces sex toys probe, too/Huckleberries Online

Moscow Minidoka: As funny as the sex toy thing is, how could it possibly be relevant to the shooting? I’ve already stated my prejudice against Hirzel in this matter, but this seems like piling on… would we care if he and his wife sold Tupperware or time shares out of their home? Sex toys are pretty mainstream these days, or so I hear… heck, nowadays you can buy a pack of condoms at Safeway that come with a vibrating ring and burn-inducing lubricant.

Question: Is the sidebar story re: the Hirzels selling sex toys online relevant to the story of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach’s shooting death at the hands of Deputy Hirzel?

KXLY: Hirzel Faces Sex Toys Probe, Too

Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel is under investigation, not because of the deadly shooting at the Plant Farm last month, but because of a sideline business where he and his wife may have been selling sex toys online from their home.It appears that Deputy Hirzel may have been involved in an online business that sells adult novelty items. While peddling sex toys is legal it may be a violation of Spokane County Sheriff’s Office departmental policy and something the department had no idea the Hirzels were doing/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here.

Question: Are you kidding me?

Vestal: Kirkpatrick’s Lecture Irrelevant

Basic information about the shooting of Wayne Scott Creach has been slow to emerge and shamefully scarce. Just days earlier, (Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s) department had issued a news release describing the Aug. 25 event as a “close encounter” with a “verbal exchange” – paltry, insufficient generalities that could have accurately been stated the morning after the shooting. Other facts, such as the now notorious vacation of Deputy Brian Hirzel, dribbled out while the cops played PR defense. The idea that the department owes the public an accounting – or that this vacation might strike us as outrageous – seemed not to register. So when Kirkpatrick began making her statement on Tuesday, one could have been forgiven for assuming she planned to discuss the shooting. … But no. What Kirkpatrick did was offer a lecture on “fatal shooting officer-involved protocol,” an irrelevancy that seemed aimed primarily at rescuing the sheriff’s reputation/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (SR file photo, of Anne Kirkpatrick)

Question: Why do police — particularly Spokane authorities — spend so much time covering their tails when one of theirs goofs up? Do they think people are going to simply quit asking about a controversy like the shooting of a pastor on his property?

Clark: Baton Story The Stuff Of Myths

Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The Easter Bunny …The Keebler Elves. Open wide, compadres. We have a brand new myth to swallow. It’s called…“The Phantom Baton Blow.” Believing in magic is about the best way to make sense out of what Deputy Brian Hirzel says happened the night Wayne Scott Creach was fatally shot Aug. 25 in Spokane Valley. Hirzel says he struck Creach with his police baton. We’re told the blow was delivered in a knee area and hard enough so that the minister actually buckled. Yet we are also told that the autopsy showed no corresponding bruise on Creach. Hmm/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Do you believe Deputy Brian Hirzel’s story that he hit Pastor Wayne Scott Creach with his baton before shooting the minister to death?

Deputy’s Vacation Frustrates Sheriff

Item: Sheriff frustrated by vacation flap: Investigative panel allowed deputy to leave without consulting Knezovich/Thomas Clouse, SR

More Info: 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.”

Question: Is Ozzie protesting too much?

Police: Pastor Shot While Drawing Gun

A Spokane Valley pastor had put his gun in the waistband of his pants and was reaching for it when he was shot by a Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy late last month, a Spokane Police investigator said at a news conference this afternoon. The pastor, Wayne Scott Creach, had approached an unmarked police car in the parking lot of his Spokane Valley business where Deputy Brian Hirzel was sitting processing tickets, Spokane Police Lt. Dave McGovern said at a press conference today. The driver’s side window was down, and Hirzel warned Creach up to six times to drop the handgun he was holding down at his side, McGovern said. Creach replied that “he didn’t have to” drop his gun, but stowed the gun in the waistband of his trousers, McGovern said/Spokesman-Review. More here

Question: What do you make of this announcement by Spokane police?

INW: Kirkpatrick To Discuss Shooting

Rocco Segadelli, 11 months old, of Boise, is wide-eyed as he checks out the inside of a Mickey Mouse  balloon at the Spirit of Boise  Balloon Classic Night Glow Saturday night at Ann Morrison Park in Boise. (AP Photo/Idaho Press Tribune: Mike Vogt)

Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to hold 2 pm press conference to discuss Creach shooting investigation/KXLY.

Clark: Knezovich Blew This One

It pains me to say it, but the sheriff’s leadership in the aftermath of the shooting death of a 74-year-old Spokane Valley pastor by a sheriff’s deputy has been neither swift nor inspiring. In particular, Knezovich’s decision to allow Deputy Brian Hirzel to postpone a key voluntary interview regarding the shooting until he got back from a scheduled vacation to Montana and Las Vegas galls me greatly. We’ve reported that Knezovich has defended not canceling the deputy’s time off out of concern that doing so “could taint the investigation by making it appear that he forced Hirzel to give the statement.” Sorry, Ozzie. That explanation is about as close to political doubletalk as I’ve ever heard you utter/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: Do you agree that Sheriff Knezovich set a bad tone for the investigation into the shooting of Pastor Creach by allowing Deputy Hirzel to take a vacation before questioning?

Pastor’s Family Still Seeking Answers

Item: Deputy: One shot fired in death: He saw Creach with gun, then had ‘verbal exchange’/Thomas Clouse, SR

More Info: The news release offered no explanation of what was said or by whom, or why Hirzel felt the need to pull the trigger, killing the 74-year-old pastor in the parking lot of his nursery business at 14208 E. Fourth Ave. in Spokane Valley. Creach’s daughter, Serena Creach Leonard, said she read the statement released Friday and it left the family with many unanswered questions. “We have no more answers from that press release really than we had the day after,” Leonard said. “We still feel badly for Deputy Hirzel, but we need the sheriff’s department to communicate to us as a family to let us know what happened that night. Whatever it is, we want the truth.”

Question: Does the family of the late Pastor Creach have the right to know what happened the night Deputy Hirzel shot the minister to death?

PM: Mourners Recall Valley Pastor

North Idaho Fair manager Chris Holloway, left, is shown with the winner of the quilt raffle: Anita Price.  The reversible quilt measures 5-foot-2 wide and 6-foot-7 tall. It was handcrafted by members of the P’s & Q’s Quilt Group from Community United Methodist Church of Coeur d’Alene. And you can find the name and photo of the dollhouse raffle winner here. (Courtesy of North Idaho Fair Facebook page)

Reprising 1st Idaho Flight

Longtime aircraft builder Dean Wilson makes the first flight at dawn Wednesday in Lewiston. There were no problems flying the ancient but updated pusher design, making it ready for a centennial celebration in September of the first flight in  Idaho at Lewiston, made in 1910. (AP Photo/Lewiston Tribune, Barry Kough)