Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuse, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up

Archive for June, 2010

Testimony: SPD murder of Tyrone Thomas on 8/6/01

Posted by Arroyoribera on June 30, 2010

Following is the powerful testimony of Terri Anderson about the 2001 murder of Tyrone Thomas by the Spokane Police. Anderson spoke these personal words at the June 21, 2010 Spokane City Council meeting at which 65 people remained until nearly midnight to testify against the long history of human rights abuses and deaths committed by the corrupt and out-of-control Spokane Police Department.

Just before Anderson and nearly two dozen citizens testified against these abuses, and after sitting through hours of other council business, Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick and Mayor Mary Vernor abandoned the Council chambers and went home. Faced with this unprecedented and persistent public movement against her abusive police force, the Chief returned June 28, 2010, to verbally murder Tyrone Thomas again and to carry out a character assassination of Anderson. (Note: Councilman Jon Snyder supported the Chief’s actions in his blog post on 6/30/10 and in other statements).

Nevertheless, Chief Kirkpatrick failed in her dishonest attempt to influence the Council, when it voted 7-0 in favor a new and strengthen ordinance on police oversight and civilian control of the Spokane Police Department.

Here are Anderson’s powerful words in remembrance of Tyrone and in favor of strengthened police oversight:

Hello, my name is Terri Anderson and this is the second time I am standing here to ask you to pass an ordinance that will give independent investigative authority to the Office of Police Ombudsman. I have had the opportunity to speak to each of you tell you that we need real and meaningful oversight of police misconduct. But I have never told you why.

In August 2001 I was working at Spokane Community College in Multicultural Student Services. I was looking forward to a new school year and preparing my work study students for their new job responsibilities. One of those students was Tyrone Thomas. I knew Tyrone because he had served as president of the Black Student Union and later served on the Associated Student Council at SCC. He was a successful and committed student nearing the end of his studies in the Invasive Cardiac Technology program, a challenging program where he achieved outstanding grades and was looking forward to a promising future with a career in the health care industry.

That all ended on August 6, 2001 when he was shot and killed by two Spokane police officers in downtown Spokane. The days that followed were heart breaking. Students who had taken the summer off from school were pouring in my office because they had to talk to someone about the loss of their friend and fellow classmate. What troubled us the most was the way the police portrayed him and the description of the events that led to his death. It didn’t make sense to those of us who knew him. A staff member recalled seeing him in class almost immediately before the fatal shooting. Something didn’t seem right.

We were also troubled by the fact that he was shot in the back while fleeing the police and turned down a hallway where he collapsed. Even though a witness saw him through a glass door and told the officers that he was down and bleeding, severely injured but still alive, those officers would not allow emergency medical help into the building for nearly an hour. When help was finally allowed in, Tyrone had bled to death. The bullets did not hit any vital organs. He just bled to death.

After the students and I attended a memorial service for Tyrone at the Jesus is the Answer Church where he attended, the students asked me to help them in getting some answers to questions we had about Tyrone’s death. We went to the NAACP and asked for help. The president at the time arranged a meeting between the Chief of Police Roger Bragdon and us. He gave us an implausible explanation about the bullet entry in Tyrone’s back and an equally implausible and heartless explanation why they let him bleed to death with an ambulance sitting on the sidewalk just outside the building where he had been shot. There was no ombudsman at that time, there was no one we could go to that could conduct an independent investigation.

Of course those officers were cleared of any wrong doing through an internal investigation and several months later they received a commendation of valor. For what? For shooting a man in the back and allowing him to bleed to death alone in a hallway after an eye witness told them he was down and injured with emergency medical help minutes, maybe even seconds away?

That is why we need independent investigations for complaints of police misconduct and critical incidents. I care about Tyrone Thomas. Students, faculty and staff at SCC cared about Tyrone. We all care about Tyrone, about Eagle Michael, Otto Zehm, Josh Levy, Jerome Alford and the many others who have been killed and injured by the Spokane police. You should care about them, too.

This ordinance is just a first step. But it must be an honest ordinance that mandates action, and not one that just uses the right words. I will always wonder if we had true, meaningful, independent oversight of police conduct when Tyrone was shot, maybe, just maybe the officers would have thought about it, and they would have allowed the emergency medical help in the building and Tyrone would be alive today.

Thank you very much.

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Posted in Educating the Chief, History of SPD Abuses, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Racism, Testimonies, Unanswered Questions, Yes ma'am Chief | 1 Comment »

URGENT: Final Council Vote on Ombudsman Powers? Monday, June 28 at 6:00 p.m.

Posted by Arroyoribera on June 28, 2010

If you haven’t had a chance, please read yesterday’s front page Spokesman Review article about Bev Saruwatari and her family. It is another sad story about the tragic consequences of the abuse of authority and excessive use of force by the Spokane police. This is what happens when the police investigate themselves. Our sympathies and thoughts are with Travis Melcher, the remaining son of Bev who is seeking justice and understanding.

Please support Travis and all of the other victims and families who have suffered the consequences of police misconduct by attending your last chance (hopefully) to tell city council to pass an ordinance to give independent investigative authority to the Office of Police Ombudsman tomorrow, Monday, June 28 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall located at the corner of Post St. and Spokane Falls Blvd.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Ombudsman Ordinance Postponed

Posted by takayanagisan on June 23, 2010

In the wee hours of the morning of June 22, 2010, Spokane City Council members decided they needed one more week to decide on an ordinance that will give independent investigative authority to the Office of Police Ombudsman. Council member Bob Apple introduced the original ordinance on May 10 and the matter was deferred until May 24 for a vote. After listening to over 20 members of the public, many who told of personal experiences of police brutality and racially biased policing, council members voted to table the vote for four more weeks until the June 21 meeting. Then, on June 14, an alternative ordinance was introduced by Council members Amber Waldref, Richard Rush and Jon Snyder that substantially weakened the independent investigative authority sought by the first ordinance but was written to conform to language that was negotiated with the Police Guild establishing the Office of Police Ombudsman in the existing ordinance. If that didn’t confuse the public enough to give up, council member Richard Rush and Jon Snyder brought forward yet a third version of the ordinance midway through the meeting on June 21.

All of the political manipulation did not deter the more than 80 people in attendance to urge passage of an ordinance that will give real and meaningful oversight over police misconduct. It didn’t matter that nobody really understood why it took three versions of an ordinance, a confidential memo from city legal, and sitting through five hours of the council agenda. By the time the ordinance came up for discussion it was well after 11:00 p.m. and 65 people remained. 28 people testified in favor of an ordinance that nobody seemed to know was before the council for a vote. Neither did the council, it seems. When it was all over, it was near 1:00 a.m. and the council voted 5-1 to postpone the vote until June 28. What will happen next? Stay tuned to the next exciting episode of the hottest new Spokane soap, “As the Ordinance Turns.”

For additional detailed information on the hearing and copies of versions of the rapidly changing proposed ordinance, please read “Groaning Toward Dawn” at the Center for Justice website.

Also the coverage of the hearing can be found at the Spokesman-Review website.

Video of the June 21, 2010 council meeting and the public testimony on it can be viewed on the City of Spokane’s website. Click on City Council Meetings and then click on City Council Meeting Part 2 June 21st, 2010.

Posted in Corruption, Educating the Chief, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Law, Spokane Police Guild, Testimonies, Videos | Leave a Comment »

End Spokane Police Abuse — Hold Them Accountable

Posted by Arroyoribera on June 12, 2010

End Spokane Police Abuses — Flyer pdf

End Spokane Police Abuses — Flyer Word<img

Posted in History of SPD Abuses, In Collective Self-Defense, Spokane Police Guild, Testimonies, Unanswered Questions, Urgent Call | Leave a Comment »

Tell Your Story of Police Abuse in Spokane

Posted by Arroyoribera on June 12, 2010

Members of the Spokane community active in police oversight are gathering stories to strengthen the case that the citizens of Spokane are in need of real and meaningful oversight of the Spokane Police Department.

Some very powerful community stories were told at the May 24, 2010 City Council meeting. Those testimonies can be viewed at the City of Spokane website. Go to this link:
http://www.spokanecity.org/services/citycable5/streamingmedia/
Then click on “City Council Meetings” and, finally, click on “May 24, 2010”. Allow the video to load completely so that the full functionality is available (which can take several minutes at least depending on your connection) and then go 100 minutes into the proceedings (somewhat short of half way through the video).

Despite a history of years of abuses, corruption, and killings of citizens, there continue to be members of the Spokane community, the media and the city government who express the view that the Spokane Police require no independent oversight.

We are inviting community members to write a few paragraphs describing what has occurred to you or friends and family at the hands of the Spokane Police Department (the city of Spokane). Details are important, in particular, locations because we intend to put them on a map and present it to the City Council on June 21.

As you decide whether or not to identify yourself in your comment, please keep in mind that we will be presenting these stories to the City Council as part of our effort to show them the extent of abuses in our community.

Posted in Educating the Chief, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Statistics, Testimonies | 1 Comment »

Attend Council Vote on Oversight of Police Misconduct – Monday, June 21, 2010 @ 6 PM

Posted by Arroyoribera on June 8, 2010

The Spokane City Council will vote Monday, June 21, 2010 at 6 PM in the Spokane City Hall Council Chambers, at the corner of Post and Spoakne Falls Boulevard, on an ordinance to expand the duties of the Office of Police Ombudsman to include independent investigation and mandatory reporting of complaints of police misconduct and all critical incidents (i.e., use of deadly force).

The ordinance was introduced on May 10, 2010 by council member Bob Apple and the originally scheduled vote on May 17 was deferred one week to May 24. Following two hours of riveting testimoney by community members sharing their experiences of abuse at the hands of the Spoakne Police, council president Joe Shogun announced that there was new information and that more time would be required. The new information was a confidential memo from the City Legal Department which was shared with some of the council member but has not been released publicly.

The participation of the community in this process is critical. Please attend this important city council meeting on June 21st at 6 PM. If you are unable to attend, please consider recruiting a friend or family member in your place.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »