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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Deputy in fatal bicycle incident violated policy, sheriff says

Staff Reports

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has determined that a deputy violated department policies last year by speeding through Spokane Valley without his lights or siren activated, narrowly missing a teenage bicyclist who crashed and died from his fall.

Results of an internal investigation into Deputy Joseph Bodman and the May 2014 fatal bicycle crash of Ryan Holyk come after three other investigations found Bodman’s SUV did not strike Holyk at the intersection of East Sprague Avenue and North Vista Road.

The teen’s parents have rejected those findings and filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office. Witnesses interviewed in the immediate aftermath said they heard the screech of brakes. Some said they heard and saw the bicycle get hit. The investigations dispute those recollections, saying neither Holyk nor his bicycle was hit by the patrol SUV.

Bodman had been driving 70 mph along Sprague through Spokane Valley en route to aid another deputy who had called for help.

At the Vista Road intersection he narrowly missed Holyk, who was crossing against a red light at about 10:30 p.m. The investigations say Holyk stopped his bike just in time – by some accounts within inches of being struck by Bodman’s SUV. The findings determined Holyk’s abrupt stop caused him to flip over his handlebars and land on his head as Bodman sped by. The boy was not wearing a helmet.

The deputy stopped after the near miss, worried that he had struck the boy. Prosecutors have used the outside investigations to clear Bodman of criminal wrongdoing.

However, the sheriff’s internal investigation led Knezovich to determine Bodman should have engaged the patrol SUV’s emergency equipment, notified dispatch and then proceeded to aid the other deputy.

Knezovich’s statement regarding investigation results did not disclose any disciplinary actions.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article contained a description of the encounter that could be construed to indicate Holyk fell after the patrol car sped past him. An accident reconstruction video shows Holyk falling just before the patrol car reached the intersection.
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