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Thursday, July 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Spokane protester accused of throwing Molotov cocktail appears in court; others decry police response

UPDATED: Tue., June 9, 2020

A man who repeatedly ran through a crowd pushing people and appearing to try to incite violence is arrested near Spokane’s Riverfront Park on Sunday, May 31, 2020. The gathering drew thousands to remember George Floyd and protest police brutality. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
A man who repeatedly ran through a crowd pushing people and appearing to try to incite violence is arrested near Spokane’s Riverfront Park on Sunday, May 31, 2020. The gathering drew thousands to remember George Floyd and protest police brutality. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
By Chad Sokol and Emma Epperly The Spokesman-Review

Protesters and rioters arrested in Sunday night’s turmoil in downtown Spokane include a local man who allegedly hurled a Molotov cocktail toward police, another accused of damaging a deputy’s vehicle and a third accused of throwing rocks at the windows of a Jack In The Box.

Police have said about 15 people were arrested during the demonstrations but have not released a list of their names.

Through court and jail records, The Spokesman-Review found several felony cases related to the rioting and more than a half-dozen other arrests on charges including disorderly conduct, malicious mischief and unlawful assembly.

Nearly all of those people arrested are from the Spokane area; one listed an address in Kingston, Idaho. Records including descriptions of the alleged crimes and arrests were not immediately available in every case.

Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl and Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Monday the looting, rioting and vandalism were largely orchestrated by agitators from out of town. The sheriff specifically blamed antifascist or “antifa” agitators from the Portland area, citing evidence from confidential informants. Antifa is not a single organization or group, but rather an umbrella term describing individuals, including leftists and anarchists, who stand in opposition to fascism.

Gene G. Gallagher, 33, of Spokane, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court on Tuesday. Police say he was captured on video Sunday evening igniting a Molotov cocktail – a crude incendiary device consisting of a bottle filled with flammable liquid – in a parking lot near Howard Street and Riverside Avenue.

The video, which aired on KHQ on Monday, shows a man pull a mask over his face, walk toward the street and ignite a piece of fluffy white material that had been stuffed into the neck of the bottle.

The video ends immediately after the man lights the wick, but according to court records, someone did throw a Molotov cocktail at police who were lined up to block Howard Street around 8 p.m. One officer reported the bottle landed 50 to 60 feet short of the police line, and it did not break or erupt in flames as intended.

Court records say police received an anonymous tip identifying the man in the video as Gallagher, and detectives found pictures of him at the protests on social media, including a “selfie” that shows him standing on a police vehicle.

Police arrested Gallagher late Monday near Stevens Street and Main Avenue.

According to court records, detectives found two lighters and a bag of menstrual pads in his backpack, including one pad that been partially rolled into a cylinder – “consistent with going into an alcohol bottle to be used as a wick.” They also found LSD and some kind of opioid in a hidden compartment in his hat, the records say.

Gallagher remained in the Spokane County Jail late Tuesday, with bond set at $5,000. He faces charges of possessing an incendiary device, drug possession and second-degree assault.

Miles W. Crane, 19, who graduated from Dishman Hills High School last year, also appeared in Superior Court on Tuesday. He’s accused of using a street barricade to damage a deputy’s patrol vehicle that was parked near Bernard Street and Main Avenue at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday. He faces one count of second-degree malicious mischief.

Court records cite two witnesses and three officers who chased and arrested Crane but offer little description of how he damaged the vehicle.

Superior Court Commissioner John Stine remarked the records were “a little thin” to support a felony charge because they don’t include an estimate for the cost of the property damage.

“I guess the prosecutor’s office will sort that out,” Stine said.

Shortly before 5 a.m. Monday – hours after police swept the downtown core and lobbed tear gas at the last remaining group of protesters – an employee of the Jack In The Box on Third Avenue called police to report a man throwing rocks at a window of the business.

One window already was broken, and the man was carrying a flagpole belonging to the business, the employee reported. Damages were estimated at $1,500, according to court records.

Police responded and arrested the man, identified as Zaxch C. Hasbrouck, 31, about two blocks away on suspicion of second-degree malicious mischief. He has been released from jail.

Adin Haines, a 22-year-old bartender and lifelong Spokane resident, told The Spokesman-Review that he, too, was arrested during the turmoil Sunday evening.

Haines said he and several others were peacefully protesting with their hands up when officers pelted them with tear gas canisters and beanbag rounds near Stevens Street and Main Avenue.

Haines said he and a young woman ran away and then called for medical attention. He shared a video that appears to show a projectile lodged in the woman’s upper arm. They waited along a nearby street, where Haines was arrested.

“I saw them shoot tear gas into crowds of people with strollers and small children. I saw mothers covering their faces, running with their strollers through clouds of tear gas,” Haines said. “I saw people crying and screaming, covered in vomit, on their knees with their hands up, then get shot multiple times with beanbag shotguns.”

Spokane police Sgt. Terry Preuninger questioned Haines’ account. Though some parents did show up with small children during the unrest downtown, Preuninger said the department has found no evidence that officers shot at parents pushing children in strollers.

Preuninger said the department is reviewing countless hours of video from officers’ body cameras and other sources. He said police are aware of strollers being used to transport supplies such as milk, which protesters used to neutralize tear gas. He said anyone with evidence of police misconduct should send it to the department.

“If our cops are doing that,” he said, “we need to know about it.”

Jail records show Haines was booked at about 8:30 p.m. He said he was released Monday evening with help from the nonprofit Bail Project and expects to receive a court summons for a charge of disorderly conduct.

Haines said he had been thrilled to see officers and deputies kneeling with peaceful protesters outside the Spokane County Courthouse earlier Sunday. He said he personally spoke with Knezovich at the front line of that demonstration.

“I’m not anti-cop. I’m pro-community,” Haines said. “What I saw at the courthouse was a beautiful moment in Spokane history. What happened later that evening, I see as a failure in leadership.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Thursday, June 4, 2020, to include comments from Spokane police Sgt. Terry Preuninger.

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