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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

Two arrested after high-speed chase

Two young people in a stolen car led a sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase in Spokane Valley on Thursday.

Jordy Scott DeBoer, 20, and Nicole Dawn Singer, 23, were in a green Honda Accord when Deputy Brian Hirzel tried to stop it near North Pines Road and East Valleyway Avenue.

The driver, identified by police as DeBoer, fled at speeds of about 70 mph in the 35 mph zone, driving through residential area, blowing through stop signs and red lights, straddling lanes and cutting through grocery store parking lots.

Deputies Damon Simmons, Scott Bonney and Jason Karntiz helped Hirzel in the pursuit.

DeBoer nearly struck several vehicles, deputies say. Hirzel ended the search because of public safety concerns; a Washington State Patrol trooper later located the suspects and they admitted to fleeing Hirzel.

“Singer admitted to Deputy Hirzel she told DeBoer to 'go, baby, go' when he attempted to stop them,” according to court documents.

The Honda was stolen early that morning or late the night before from a home in the 1300 bock of North McDonald Road.
  

Tip helps identify fuel theft suspects

Photos of two vehicles suspected in a series of fuel thefts led police to identify three suspects, officials said today.

Richard William Tennant, 24, (pictured) faces 17 felony charges for thefts in Spokane and Adams counties in which $5,000 in fuel was purchased using gas cards stolen from the Central Valley School District and a Spokane Valley company, according to police.
 
Surveillance photos were released last week showing a green Dodge pickup and a white Chevrolet or GMC Suburban prompted a citizen to report the pickup's location to Spokane police. 
 
Police say the truck's owner, Jacob Anthony Lorenzo, 38, tried to disguise the pickup by painting the silver door green and changing its wheels and tires. He faces a single count of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of possession of stolen property.  
 
Suspect Sasha Stanton, 27, also faces three counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, three counts of third-degree theft and one count of second-degree possession of stolen property. 
 
Police also located the white SUV, which was searched along with the truck and two homes. Police found evidence linking the suspects to the thefts and are asking for help locating Tennant, who faces four counts of first-degree trafficking stolen property, one count of first-degree theft, five counts of second-degree possession of stolen property, two counts of second-degree burglary and five counts of second-degree vehicle prowling. He also has a warrant in Idaho. Anyone with information on his location should call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.
 
Neither Lorenzo or Stanton have been arrested, but their whereabouts are known. 
 
The case was investigated by Spokane County sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel.

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?

Spokane Valley legislators push bill on unmarked patrol cars

Republican legislators Matt Shea and Larry Crouse have brought forward a bill in the State Legislature to make it illegal for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office to park unmarked patrol cars on private property. This has been something pushed for by the family of Wayne Scott Creach, who was shot last August after a confrontation with a uniformed sheriff's deputy in an unmarked car. Reporter Tom Clouse has more details here.

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?

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.

911 recordings released in Creach shooting

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Dispatch traffic from night of Creach shooting

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 and police dispatch tapes documenting Deputy Brian Hirzel’s transmissions surrounding his fatal shooting of Spokane Valley pastor Wayne Scott Creach.

The transcript is largely as Spokane police officials described. Hirzel called “code 6,” which means he needs help. 

A few seconds later he says: “I’ve got shots fired, one down, shots fired.” A few seconds after that, Hirzel said: “respond medics.”

He made that call a second time from 14208 E. 4th Ave. before a dispatcher acknowledged the call and informed Hirzel that medics were en route.

Hirzel was in full uniform but in an unmarked car the night of Aug. 25 when Creach, who owned the property Hirzel was parked on, approached with a gun in one hand and a flashlight in the other.

Hirzel said he told Creach repeatedly to drop the gun but that he refused and tucked it into the back waistband of his pants instead, then refused Hirzel’s orders to lay on the ground.

Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker now has the case and has said he hopes to quickly decide on any potential charges against Hirzel.

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

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?

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.

HBO Poll: Sex-Toy Angle Irrelevant

  • Tuesday Poll: More than 60 percent of Hucks Online readers consider as irrelevant the story that Brian Hirzel, the Spokane County deputy who shot Pastor Wayne Scott Creach to death, sells sex toys online as a side business. 139 of 215 (64.65%) of respondents said it was an irrelevant detail. 64 of 215 (29.77%) considered the sidebar story to be relevant. 12 people (5.58%) were undecided.
  • Today’s Question: Have you ever been subpoenaed to testify in a civil or criminal trial?

Candidate wants WSP to probe shooting

The Democratic challenger for Spokane County prosecutor on Monday called for the Washington State Patrol to take over the investigation into the fatal shooting of a Spokane Valley pastor.

Spokane lawyer Frank Malone said he had not contacted the WSP, but noted they were already involved in the investigation of the Aug. 25 shooting by Deputy Brian Hirzel as part of a protocol that is designed to avoid having a department investigate itself. “

This investigation is already compromised,” Malone said. “The deputy being allowed to go on vacation was ill-advised and created an unnecessary appearance of coziness with the legal system. The deputy is as interested in a credible investigation as anybody else. He doesn’t want this cloud hanging over him, either.”

Read Tom Clouse’s full story here.

Melissa: Sex-Toy Angle Is Relevant

It’s relevant on several levels, depending on who you ask. It’s relevant because the sheriff’s office already has a huge issue on its hands – and, the sheriff chose to assign some of his employees to get to the bottom of it. It’s relevant because, if investigators determine it’s a violation of policy, this deputy could possibly lose his job, even if the prosecutor clears him of criminal charges for the shooting. It’s relevant because some people believe if Deputy Hirzel would violate policy in this way, it’s possible he violated policy with the choices he made the night of the shooting. It’s not up to us to decide the answers to those questions; it is our responsibility to cover every angle of this huge community story, including this one/Melissa Luck, KXLY. More here.

Question: Persuaded, yet?

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?