Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present

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

Archive for the ‘History of SPD Abuses’ Category

Information needed regarding police abuses in Spokane

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 9, 2012

It would be useful to have people with knowledge of abuses by the Spokane Police Department to share that information here. One of the uses would be to share it with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Center for Justice and local organizations such as SPARC (Spokane Police Accountability and Reform Coalition) and PJALS (Peace and Justice Action League) to further the cause of preventing further abuses and tragedies at the hands of the Spokane Police.

Please feel free to provide that information to me by posting a comment below. Comments do not post automatically but must be approved by me. Therefore, if you state that you don’t want the comment posted, I will not post it. Please let me know in what ways the information can be shared and I will respect that. If you have incident or report numbers, names or other information that you would like shared with the DOJ or others, please send that as well.

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Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Know Your Rights — Tin Soldiers and Nixon’s Coming

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 20, 2010

[Author’s note: Having just had the opportunity to spend some time this evening with my good friend, Michael Lyons, and in his honor, I am taking the opportunity to reprint this piece I wrote a month after Spokane Police and the multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) attacked a group of young people on July 4, 2007 in Spokane’s Riverfront Park. I encourage people to study this case and consider its implications for protest, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and public ownership of public space. I also encourage people to understand the abuses of power by the Spokane Police in hiding evidence in the case as well as the roles of the city prosecutor’s office and Spokane Police administrators in the cover-up and spinning of the facts. Finally, I encourage people to watch the entire still relevant short video on the Kent State shooting. As the expression goes in Spanish, “Prohibido olvidar” — “Forgetting is forbidden.”]

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS — TIN SOLDIERS AND NIXON’S COMING

What is the theme unifying abuses by increasingly militarized police departments, pervasive media lies and ruling class complicity, military brutality abroad, corporate war profiteering, stunning cowardice by the U.S. Congress, and near total passivity by the overall U.S. population? It is our dishonesty and complicity in the face of U.S. imperialism, manifested by illegal invasions, brutal military occupations, and gross human rights abuses, as well as saber-rattling in many parts of the world.

Over the years I have been very clear about one thing with anyone who has asked me about my activism. What drives my beliefs and actions is anti-imperialism.

What is imperialism?

Imperialism is best known by its fruits.

Imperialism is a Vietnamese girl running down a highway in 1972, her naked body burning with napalm.

Imperialism is the naked bodies of Iraqi boys and girls and men and women at Abu Ghraib sodomized by U.S. troops and intelligence personnel in 2004.

Imperialism is the naked bodies of young children all over the world year after year being washed before they are buried after starving in a world of plenty, a world where the U.S. dominates all major international institutions and routinely blocks actions desired by the rest of the planet.

Imperialism is a disgraced United States of America, unable to justify its actions to its own citizens or to the peoples and nations of the world, a U.S. resorting to spying on its own citizens and torturing the citizens of the rest of the world.

When Alberto Gonzales comes to Spokane to share “sensitive, top secret” information with the Spokane Police and other law enforcement agencies, it is Nixon and John Mitchell all over again.

When it is revealed that Spokane is a key link in human rights abuses and torture being committed by the U.S. around the world, it is My Lai all over again.

When young people march to Riverfront Park and in the midst of peaceful protest are attacked by Spokane Police , it is Kent State all over again.

In my opinion, when people begin to defy authority on the streets all over the U.S., it signals a coming confrontation. As Oliver Tambo said, “The people’s patience is not eternal”.

Hear it coming?

1970 is in the air again.

Tin Soldiers and Nixon Coming. Remembering Ohio.

“Ohio” — Neil Young Lyrics Analysis

[To the individual who wrote stating that it is hyperbole on my part to suggest that 4th of July in Riverfront Park is comparable to Kent State, I have the following comments…

1) I stand by that.

2) The global capitalist/imperialist system run from Langley, Wall Street, the Pentagon, and the White House reaches periodic moments of minor and of severe crisis. We are currently at a moment of such severe crisis.

3) What happened on the 4th of July 2007 in Riverfront Park was just one of many police state actions around the country against free speech, protest, and activism.

Here is the equation for the mathematically challenged:

Combine 4th of July 2007 Spokane with FBI spying on Spokane activists, torture masters operating out of the American Legion Building on Washington Street in downtown Spokane, Alberto Gonzales meeting secretly with Spokane law enforcement, the arming of the Spokane Police with 100 AR-15s and other military weaponry, and the majority Democrats caving in to a Republican president on pro-war and civil-liberties-curtailing legislation. Now multiply that by a hundred U.S. cities the size of Spokane or larger and…voila!

Tin Soldiers and Nixon’s Coming.

So the writer does not buy my analysis? No problem.

It’s not for sale anyways.

Hasta la victoria siempre! ]

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Just exactly who is Anne Kirkpatrick? Annie Got Her Gun now tries to get out of town

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 4, 2010

[Note by author: For readers who may consider the words that follow in this post to be harsh and unfair, consider that even the elegant, upscale Spokane Couer d’Alene Living Magazine, in the Lilacs and Lemons section of its March 2010 issue, gave Chief Kirkpatrick a lemon and reprimanded her, saying basically that if she is so busy making plans to leave Spokane in the midst of such a crucial period in city and police history, she should darn well hurry up and get the heck out of Dodge, I mean Spokaloo.]

Listening to a recent KYRS Thin Air Community Radio morning news piece by Don Gronning (6/22/10 podcast), one is struck by the most recent persona of the always strutting, full-of-attitude Anne Kirkpatrick. The sassy southern gal, who arrived in Spokane nearly four years ago with her slick little one-girl show from the south, replete with meaningless but media-savvy slogans like “You lie, you die” and a repertoire of song and dance (literally) at the ready for any and all occasions, apparently has at least one more routine up her sleeve as she — like a teenager graduating from high school — desperately seeks a way out of Spokaloo.

So what is that persona? A new and improved Chief Anne Kirkpatrick who, despite previous statements to the contrary, appears to be headed out of town.

And naked. Well, not naked exactly but definitely devoid of her long characteristic Southern accent. (Seriously, listen to Gronning’s 6/22/10 podcast.) Besides, in the south — like Abilene and Shreveport where I used to live, or Memphis, Tennessee where Anne was born and raised — we say “neck-id”.

Apparently the “Ya’ll come back now, here?” phony southern drawl worked as part of the dog and pony show the chief put on to get us Okies in Spokaloo to hire her as chief under a previous mayor and city council. But it appears she decided that it wasn’t going to make her any friends or influence any people in the sophisticated environment of Seattle. So she is suddenly accentless, a sophisticated and independent woman, itinerant again and forced to strike out on her own. Maybe she should take Doug Clark’s advice and take her bopping and jiving back to Memphis. Or how about Mabton, Washington, population 1891.

All of this after a long string of that bad luck: 1) the Guild stabbed her in the back, 2) she still can’t shake Tony Bamonte off that same back, 3) Councilman Jon Snyder could not get his slip-shod, loop-hole filled version of the Ombudsman Ordinance passed in 30 minutes as he proposed he could in the wee hours of the morning of June 22, 2010, after over-whelming public testimony in favor of a more tightly-written, forceful ordinance to move a blatantly out-of-control police force closer to effective citizen oversight and control, 4) the Grand Jury and FBI noose tightened around the necks of her lying officers and administrators, 5) Ombudsman Tim Burns himself finally stood up and said, “Hell yeah, I’ll take some of that independent oversight”, and 6) the people of Spokane, who had made common cause with many a citizen abused or murdered by the police, and in the process made themselves heard over and over and over again for years, combined a powerful community coalition with public participation and turnout that would not succumb to old fashion tactics of “bait and switch” in the writing of legislation nor to agenda-stacking designed to run out the clock on democratic participation.

Unfortunate for Anne, even after giving it that old Tennessee try in the open competitive portion of the Seattle hiring process and after a private “perhaps I still got that old charm” approach via e-mail to Seattle’s Mayor, Seattle didn’t buy the song and dance.

Besides, can you imagine this “Chief” — who okayed tasering Josh Levy off the Monroe Street Bridge to his death yet in Gronning’s podcast defends tasers like a shameless East Sprague used car saleswoman — dealing with the sorts of complicated human dramas and dilemmas that a Seattle would present her? Or how about having Chief Kirkpatrick in charge of the sophisticated political and social environment of one of the most dynamic and liberal cities in the U.S., the same Chief Kirkpatrick whose boys and girls in blue botched every aspect (from initial provocation to evidence suppression) of the July 4, 2007 police riot in Riverfront Park — being in charge of a police department in a world class city like Seattle? Can you imagine how much worse the 1999 WTO police repression would have been or what she would do with officers punching teenaged girls in the face or kicking and stomping an innocent immigrant?

Gigs up, Lil’ Annie…

(Come to think of it, maybe the gig is not up after all. As I understand it, former Spokane Police Internal Affairs official Jim Faddis is looking for a spoons player for his jugband, the Prairie Flyers. Some will recall that Faddis and the notorious officer Dan Torok used pseudonyms while blogging at Frank Sennett’s Spokesman-Review Hard 7 blog in the summer of 2007. Faddis, under the pseudonym of Kevin, along with Torok and others SPD plants defended the SPD at the height of public outrage over the Firehouse Sex Scandal, the 4th of July “near police riot”, the arrests of protestors Dan Treecraft and Rebecca Lamb, and the killings of Otto Zehm, Jerome Alford and Eagle Michael, as well as the non-fatal shootings of Shonto Pete and Sean Fitzpatrick, not to mention controversial incidents involving SPD officers John Elam, Jonothan Smith, David Freitag, and Jay Mehring. The killings of Otto Zehm and Jerome Alford involved Torok and Faddis’s department was involved in investigating most of the other incidents. The chief would no doubt be a fine addition to Faddis’s band. Come to think of it, if someone could teach Spokane county prosecutor Steve Tucker to play a washboard and city attorney Rocky Trepieddi to play the cowbell…

[See also Educating the Chief – It’s Spokane, not Spokaloo]

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[Excerpt below from The Seattle Times article Biographies of the 11 SPD chief candidates: Here are short biographies on the semifinalists for Seattle police chief

Anne Kirkpatrick

Chief of police, Spokane

Anne Kirkpatrick, 50, who previously served as police chief in Ellensburg and Federal Way before joining the Spokane department in 2006, has carved out a reputation as a no-nonsense chief and strong believer in community outreach. She announced her intention to seek the Seattle job in February when she told Spokane officials she had applied for the position.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Kirkpatrick applied last year to be San Francisco’s police chief but downplayed her action by saying that as a woman leading a large department she is often recruited. The job went to another candidate.

The Spokesman-Review reported that, while support for Kirkpatrick has been mixed on the police force, she enjoys broad support from city leaders, who credit her with making officers more accountable and improving ties to the community.

In April, union leaders representing the Spokane Police Department’s officers said a majority of the Spokane Police Guild’s 268 members voted no-confidence in the “office” of the police chief, but didn’t disclose the vote tally, The Spokesman-Review reported.

But the department’s lieutenants and captains gave her a vote of approval after learning of the union’s vote.

The following excerpt from a Spokesman-Review article at the time of Spokane’s search for a new chief reported on the Chief’s 5 “Cardinal Rules” which apparently after the hanky-panky of the Jason Uberagua case and the police lying in the Zehm case must have referred to the Memphis Redbirds, the minor league affilitate of the St. Louis Cardinals —

She landed at Green River Community College, teaching criminal justice for two years. Then a retiring Ellensburg police chief called and asked her if she’d apply for his job.

“God’s timing and God’s hand involved,” Kirkpatrick says of the surprise call. “And I’m glad, because I have to admit I wanted to go back.”

Soon, she was running a 30-member department. And that’s where she launched her five cardinal rules.

“They’re character-based,” she said of the rules. “People are going to make mistakes. But character-based mistakes are not tolerable.”

The rules: No harassing, bullying or discriminatory language, “including zero tolerance of male white-bashing.” No lying. No abuse of authority. No insubordination. And nothing that causes lack of trust in the department, such as sex on duty or failing to take a rape report.

One former officer and her attorney, however, contend Kirkpatrick applies those rules unevenly.

Former Federal Way officer Jessica Nelson was fired for what Kirkpatrick concluded was insubordination and lying about misuse of a department computer. Nelson maintains that it was a miscommunication – and that other officers were lightly disciplined for far worse offenses.

Nelson’s Portland attorney, Beth Allen, said that officers were suspended for a few days, “if that,” for allegedly sexually harassing other officers, discharging a firearm in the station and having a detainee escape from a police car.

Posted in Educating the Chief, Ethics, FBI in Spokane, Freedom to Fascism, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Jason Oakley and the FBI, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Photographic Evidence, Protest and Free Speech, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Spokane taser, Stop it. You're killin' me., Tasers, Yes ma'am Chief | 3 Comments »

S-R Letters in Support of Independent Police Oversight

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 2, 2010

Spokesman-Review
Letters to the editor
July 1, 2010

Trust tied to independence

I agree with Bob Apple the ombudsman needs power to investigate. The police force investigating themselves does not work to restore trust in the police. Only independent investigations will do that.

Most police have nothing to fear. Those who overstep and use more force than necessary should have everything to worry about. Now, unfortunately, they act with impunity. Support good police; get rid of the rotten ones.

John A. Perkins
Spokane

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Protectors or threats?

Upon reading Bill Morlin’s June 27 account of the late Beverly Saruwatari’s encounter with the Spokane Police Department on June 7, 2009, a reasonable person can legitimately react with disgust toward the SPD and could conclude that us citizens of Spokane need protection from the SPD at least as much as we need protection by the SPD.

The plethora of evidence about ongoing and apparent police misconduct clearly indicates that someone other than the SPD should be reviewing their abuse of our fellow citizens. Although I applaud City Councilman Bob Apple’s clear statement that “someone other than police should be involved in reviewing” the epidemic of SPD misconduct I assert that a police ombudsman, whatever their powers, is now insufficient for this task.

The SPD has lost the respect and support of so many law-abiding citizens that direct accountability to us citizens is the most viable pathway toward healing what is now a broken bond between the SPD and our community. Us law-abiding citizens cannot continue idly observing this renegade agency terrorizing our fellow human beings – silence is the voice of complicity. We citizens of Spokane must demand direct citizen oversight of the SPD now.

Ed Byrnes
Spokane

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Police Guild too influential

I am 77 years old and a native of Spokane. I have known and become friends with many members of the Spokane Police Department, and I have the utmost respect for who they are and what they represent.
I have read and heard of many heroic deeds and misdeeds performed by them. But what I don’t understand is how did the Police Guild get so powerful that City Councilman Steve Corker said we would be fighting these labor issues for years (“Ombudsman gains power,” June 29)? Even if the enhanced ombudsman oversight is approved. I thought the citizens of Spokane, managed by the City Council, paid the salaries of the police, not the Spokane Police Guild. It looks to me like the cart has gotten ahead of the horse and we the citizens of Spokane are the ones who are paying the piper.

Not being an attorney, thank God, I don’t know if Mr. Corker is correct, but if he is, chalk up another one for the legal profession. I can only hope he is wrong and truth and honor and the citizens of Spokane will prevail.

James A. Nelson
Spokane

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Cloud darkens police success

The Spokane Police Department is a mystery to me. Great response by officers and others to the shooting at Hoopfest Saturday. The cloud hanging over the department unfortunately overshadows this good work.

The cloud is characterized by the handling of the Otto Zehm and Bev Saruwatari cases. Bev Saruwatari was a friend of mine. I knew her as a fellow educator and teacher of my granddaughter. I am ashamed of the police treatment of her. These situations and others are an embarrasment to us all.

The department apparently has a select bunch of “cowboys,” lacking in common sense and decency that operate as if Spokane is still the wild west. They harass the public in spite of the facts and feel safe because any internal affairs investigation will find their actions “proper.”
We are afraid to take them on. Are we powerless to make any change in this sad state of affairs?

Lynn Jones
Spokane

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

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.

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 »

Police Lies — Officer Dan Torok and the SPD

Posted by Arroyoribera on April 19, 2010

A short primer, “When to Lie and How,” if brought out in an attractive and not too expensive a form, would no doubt command a large scale, and would prove of real practical service to many earnest and deep-thinking people.

– Source: Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying”

The document does not name any officers but indicates that “one or more” of those named in the $2.9 million civil suit are being investigated for potentially obstructing justice. That list includes Nicks, Ferguson, and Officers Steven Braun, Zack Dahle, Erin Raleigh, Dan Torok, Ron Voeller and Jason Uberuaga.

– Source: Spokesman Review, “Zehm grand jury to hear evidence police changed testimony, Feds: Accounts of fatal encounter altered” http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2010/apr/15/feds-testimony-altered/

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Tyrone Thomas – shot in the back by Spokane Police – August 6, 2001

Posted by Arroyoribera on April 1, 2010

On August 6, 2001, Tyrone Thomas, an African American student at Spokane Community College, was shot and killed by Spokane Police in a downtown office building. The police accused Thomas of shooting directly at them and that they shot back in self defense. However, the bullet entered Mr. Thomas’s back as he fled down a hallway and turned down a corridor. A local attorney walking through the building was able to see Thomas through a glass door but was unable to render assistance because the door was locked. The witness, not knowing that police officers shot the victim, reported seeing the injured Thomas and told the officers to get medical assistance immediately because he was still alive and was losing blood rapidly. Police officers would not allow emergency medical assistance for more than a half an hour. Even though the victim had been reported as incapacitated and severely injured, police officers claimed a need to have a SWAT team clear the area before they would allow emergency medical personnel into the building. Though the bullet did not hit any vital organs, Tyrone Thomas bled to death in the corridor. It was reported that if medical assistance had been provided immediately Mr. Thomas would more than likely have lived. Several months later, in the midst of controversy that has endured to this day, the Spokane Police Department awarded the two officers (Shane Oien and James Erickson) involved in shooting Tyrone Thomas in the back with its highest award, the Medal of Valor. Thomas’s death was one of those that generated great outrage in the community, resulting in public meetings with then-Police Chief Roger Bragdon but no actions to curb police abuses nor impunity nor, of course, any effective community oversight of the police.

(This is one of numerous deaths not included on the original timeline that forms the backbone of this blog. The information on the death of Tyrone Thomas was sent to me by a key activist in Spokane’s police accountability movement. Though I myself have not been very active of late, I invites the entire community to e-mail him at SpokanePoliceAbuses@gmail.com with additional cases of deaths, abuses, crimes, corruption, and impunity which mark the Spokane Police Departments history and have left our community fearing for the safety of our law-abiding children, family members, and friends. Please contribute to this project with ideas, articles, links, format ideas, etc.)

Posted in History of SPD Abuses, License to Kill, Racism | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Police have pals on high — Sheriff Knezovich former union rep

Posted by Arroyoribera on January 9, 2010

Spokesman-Review

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Letters to the editor

Police have pals on high

For years we’ve heard about our local law enforcement’s disrespectful performance. It’s the citizens of the city and county at fault.

Chief Anne Kirkpatrick serves under the elected mayor and we elected Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. We ultimately end up with supervisors that represent their employees’ interests, not the public’s interest. Taxpayers will likely learn that Chief Kirkpatrick’s actions were incorrect on how she fired Officer Brad Thoma. Negligent or deliberate, we will never know, but Kirkpatrick looks good in the public’s eye while providing an avenue for Officer Thoma to benefit as others have in the past.

Sheriff Knezovich was the former union representative for the sheriff’s union. He defended co-workers’ ridiculous actions from discipline. Then we elect him the top supervisor.

We need to realize why the union that represents the Spokane County sheriff’s deputies supports Sheriff Knezovich for re-election. They know where their meal ticket is.

The voters need to wake up and control these repeat actions before Chief Kirkpatrick and Sheriff Knezovich suggest that all Spokane city and county law enforcement cars have ignition interlock devices as standard equipment. In November 2010, help clean up our local law enforcement.

Allan Margitan
Nine Mile Falls

Source: http://www.spokesmanreview.com/opinion/letter.asp?ID=21445

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Repression of Free Speech — Oct 20, 2009

Posted by Arroyoribera on October 18, 2009

On Tuesday October 20, 2009, the political discussion group “Need To Know”
will host Malcolm Haworth, who will speak of pivotal events in Spokane
one hundred years ago.

In the fall of 1909, Spokane police arrested 500 of the Industrial
Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) following the arrest of
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn for freely speaking downtown, in what became
one of the most seminal events in American political/labor history.

Hear how Spokane residents rallied around their songs from prison, the
daily marches of prisoners with the blanketing of food and flowers in
their path. Learn of key people, places, and the aftermath of the
street protests that won the day for labor rights and free speech.

Malcolm Haworth has a master’s in history from EWU and has researched
the IWW in Spokane in 1909, and beyond.

This will be on Tuesday October 20th at 6:30 pm at Emmanuel Lutheran
Church at 314 South Spruce St., on the west side of Coeur d’Alene
Park in Browne’s Addition.

Refreshments (including a batch of One World’s Everything Cookies)
will be provided.

For more information you may call 327-7119.

To subscribe to Need To Know, send email to
needtoknow-subscribe@googlegroups.com

To unsubscribe from Need To Know, send email to needtoknow-unsubscribe@googlegroups.com
For more options, visit this group at http://groups.google.com/group/needtoknow?hl=en
-~———-~—-~—-~—-~——~—-~——~–~—

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

October 22 Coalition

Posted by Arroyoribera on October 10, 2009

The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22nd, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality.

The Coalition also works on the Stolen Lives Project, which documents cases of killings by law enforcement agents nationwide. The second edition of the Stole n Lives book documents over 2000 cases in the 1990’s alone. (available for $15 from Amazon.com or from the National Office.)

Research and collection of data in preparation for a second volume continues, and volunteers for researching or editing are welcomed.

Contact the National Office of October 22nd at:

Info@october22.org or 1-888-NOBRUTALITY (or 347 586 1773)

http://www.october22.org

October 22nd Coalition
P.O. Box 2627
New York, N.Y. 10009

To donate funds, make check out to: IFCO/October 22,
and mail to: October 22, PO Box 2627, New York, NY 10009

MISSION STATEMENT OF THE OCTOBER 22nd COALITION TO STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, REPRESSION AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION:

Founded June 14, 1996,

The National Day of Protest was initiated by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals. We came together out of our concern that the peoples resistance to Police Brutality needed to be taken to a higher level nationwide.

The National Day of Protest aims to bring forward a powerful, visible, national protest against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. It aims to expose the state’s repressive program. It aims to bring forward those most directly under the gun of Police Brutality AND to also reach into all parts of the society–bringing forward others to stand in the fight against this official brutality. And the National Day of Protest aims to strengthen the peoples’ organized capacity for resistance in a variety of ways.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Wanted — Photos of Spokane surveillance cameras

Posted by Arroyoribera on August 3, 2009

(Originally posted at the Spokane Hidden Police Cameras blog.)

The e-mail address spokanehiddenpolicecameras@gmail.com
is now working.

If you have photos in .jpeg or other common formats of surveillance cameras used by local law enforcement, please attach them to an e-mail and send them with a description (detailed is better than brief but anything is appreciated) of the exact location, observations, and comments, as well as your opinions and thoughts about surveillance cameras, privacy infringement, the Spokane Police, etc. It would be useful to provide multiple photos, i.e., close ups of the camera, photos which provide an idea of the area around the camera in particular those which indicate the position in reference to known landmarks or identifiable objects, etc. If you prefer to be unidentified or to be identified by a pseudonym, please let me know.

Suggestions for videos to include in the Vodopod in the left column as well as coordinates to include camera locations in the Platial map also located in the left column.

In addition, the author of this WordPress blog is also the author of the SpokanePoliceAbuses blog. Anyone who would like to help update the chronology posted on that site may send text for inclusion in that chronology which has not been updated for more than a year. Additional blog posts, photos and videos from community members are welcome. I will not commit that I will post them without possible editing but will engage in an exchange about any suggested changes by e-mail with the author. I will attribute the article to its author. The only objective is to bring forth information about the Spokane Police for the benefit of the community and to assist in the development of a will on the part of our community leaders to bring an end, once and for all, to the impunity enjoyed by the Spokane Police Department and its personnel.

If this information is especially interesting to you, you might consider subscribing to the blog at the top of the right hand column.

–(This article was written by David Brookbank)

[Your suggestions on improving this blog or on editing this article as well as your comments are appreciated at SpokaneHiddenPoliceCameras@gmail.com]

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Call to Community Action — Surveillance in Spokane

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 27, 2009

(Originally published at Spokane Hidden Police Cameras)

Remotely operated surveillance cameras with remote recording capacity are being set up all over Spokane under questionable legal authority.

Remotely operated surveillance cameras with remote recording capacity are being set up all over Spokane under questionable legal authority.

The Spokane Police Department — tied to numerous cases in recent years of corruption, killing, sex crimes, and human rights abuses committed by a number of Spokane police ‘officers’ — is now deeply involved in spying on the Spokane community. Hidden cameras used by the Spokane Police Department are appearing around the community and will be used extensively for the “Independence Day” events at Riverfront Park on July 4, 2009, per Spokane Public Radio’s Amanda Loder (KPBX/KSFC). These cameras have the capacity for remote viewing and for recording.

[Podcast of 07/01/2007 report on hidden police cameras by Spokane Public Radio’s Amanda Loder — “Riverfront Park visitors may be on candid camera on July 4”]

The purpose of this blog is locate, identify, disclose, and monitor the use of these cameras by the Spokane Police Department, as well as other law enforcement. It is well known that the Spokane Police Department acts as part of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and in that capacity has engaged in surveillance, provocation, and attacks on the public, specifically on July 4, 2007, in Riverfront Park.

The blog will also serve for tracking and exploring the legal issues involved in police spying. As citizens of Spokane, we know that we have been ill served for decades by our mayors and and city council when it comes to authority over and oversight of the Spokane Police Department and its secretive and authoritarian leadership.

This is a request for assistance in developing this site. Please send the location of these camera. Among many other locations, there are several in Manito Park and there are others in Riverfront Park.

Ideas on the layout for this WordPress blog, topics, widgets, etc are greatly appreciated. Photos of cameras, detailed descriptions of locations, etc. will allow for the mapping and tracking of police espionage.

Locations of cameras can be posted on the Platial map on the left side of the page. Vodopod videos on the subject of surveillance of episode of police repression (such as the murder of Otto Zehm and the July 4, 2007 police attack on gathered youth) can be posted as well as documentaries on surveillance and civil liberties.

It is important to remember that Spokane is already home to rather “spooky” people — i.e., spies — being the home of a SERE training facility which has brought to this community the likes of CIA psychologists Jessen and Mitchell who reverse engineered survival techniques to create “better” torture techniques for the Bush regimes war on the world. In addition, a number of Defense Department and CIA related companies operate in Spokane, not to mention mercenary outfits such as Blackwater (which recently attempted to camouflage its operations and reputation by changing its name to Xe, pronounced “Zee”).

We know from the reporting of Spokesman-Review reporters Bill Morlin and Karen Dorn Steele that the FBI has infiltrated local organizations and spied on groups like PJALS, Food not Bombs, and other groups. The Spokane Police violated the constitutional rights of protesters at the West Central Community Center in 2007 with the arbitrary and capricious designation of “free speech zones” during the visit by Alberto Gonzales to Spokane just before he resigned in disgrace.

Like the people of Honduras facing a coup today, like the people of Venezuela facing a coup in April 2002, like the people of Iraq and Afghanistan facing illegal invasion and occupation, like the people of so many places in the world facing arbitrary and spurious claims to “needs of the government” to infringe rights and intrude on privacy of people in a democratic country, it is urgently important that we the people of Spokane not quietly submit to the authority of a police department with a thick file of abuses against the people of this city.

Please participate in this project in the way you see fit.

Please write to SpokaneHiddenPoliceCameras@gmail.com with ideas on links, photos, maps, articles, etc.

[Thanks to the young people of Spokane who inspired this blog by expressing their outrage and sense of violation of their basic human and constitutional rights at the fact that cameras are being set up in parks — such as Manito — where generations of Spokane youth and their families have enjoyed all the activities of youth without high tech modern surveillance.]

–(This article was written by David Brookbank)

[Your suggestions on improving this blog or on editing this article as well as your comments are appreciated at SpokaneHiddenPoliceCameras@gmail.com]

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Small dogs vs. human beings and civil rights

Posted by Arroyoribera on July 9, 2009

Coincidentally, the day after I started a new blog — Spokane Hidden Police Cameras — a story hit the airwaves in Spokane. It told of the kind of brutal crime that makes one stop and wonder what has happened to humanity. The sort of story about which people comment to total strangers on the bus or in the lunch room at work. The type of incident which leaves many clear in a belief that “of course surveillance cameras are a good thing”.

On Wednesday, July 1, 2009, in our fare town, someone grabbed a dog named Cocoa Butter out of a car near the Spokane City Hall and threw the little Shih Tzu up against the brick building, seriously injuring, though not killing, the animal. A hidden camera of the Spokane Police Department caught the crime on video. Thank goodness. Due to the cameras, a suspect is being sought by Spokane Police and an arrest is likely. In any future prosecution of the suspect, Michael Jones, age 20, the video will obviously be of importance. Jones faces charges of 1st Degree Animal Cruelty, a Class C Felony.

On March 18, 2006, in our fare town, seven Spokane Police officers participated in a brutal crime against a totally innocent young man, Otto Zehm. Store cameras caught the horrendous crime on video. Thank goodness. Still, two days later, Zehm, a gentle though mentally ill young man, died in a Spokane hospital without ever regaining consciousness. Despite the cameras, no arrests have been made and a successful prosecution is doubtful, notwithstanding the grand jury indictment on the June 22, 2009 of Officer Karl Thompson. (In fact, the taxpayers of Spokane are on the hook for at least $200,000 for the legal defense of Thompson who is now on paid leave). In the video, Thompson, within 16 seconds of entering the store, initiated the first baton blow on Zehm, the start of an assault by police which did not end until he had been further beaten, tasered, hogtied, and suffocated. The result of the assault on Zehm was what the county coroner on May 30, 2006, ruled a homicide with the cause of death being reported as “lack of oxygen to the brain due to heart failure while being restrained on his stomach.”

[Watch the Zehm store video footage, listen to the 911 call, and hear the police radio traffic at http://www.khq.com/global/story.asp?S=5153579 ]

The two stories — one involving a brutally beaten small dog and the other a much more severally beaten and brutalized defenseless and innocent man — raise a number of questions about the use of surveillance cameras by law enforcement. These questions should be looked at closely and intensely considered about before the people of Spokane or any community quietly and easily accept the slow creep of police state surveillance practices.

In the case of Zehm, the cameras in question were not controlled by the police. However, the use of the video was. Initially, access to the video material was denied to the public and the media. From the very start, the legal system — the police chief, the deputy chief, and the prosecutor’s office — successfully attempted to control the material and the public’s perception of the crime. All immediately began to spin, distort, and lie about the information contained on the video tape. Eventually, at first under pseudonyms and pretending to be civilians, the most vocal and unrepentant of the officers involved in the murder of Zehm, Officer Dan Torok, and certain ranking officers on the force began to participate in public forums — Frank Sennett’s Hard 7 blog and other Spokesman Review blogs — as if the impunity that law enforcement has long held in Spokane was a matter of certainty in this outrageous crime as well. Sadly, the people of Spokane largely played along with script, being incapable of mounting the sort of response that most decent communities manage to put together when such a tragedy occurs to a gentle soul like Zehm — a small but prominent public memorial of candles, photos, flowers, and tears at a spot near the scene of the tragedy.

So what does this have to do with surveillance cameras? Little. However it provides a starting point for looking at abuse of authority and the sacred pubic trust in the context of the modern police state and its use of highly sophisticated technologies which violate privacy and operate around the clock. In the Zehm case, the Spokane Police Department could not be trusted to use the technology with the kind of integrity which the public has a right to expect and which the sacred nature of constitutional protections demands.

An isolated case? Not in the least.

Besides the Zehm case, at least four other recent cases come to mind. Readers of this blog are invited to comment here and/or e-mail me at spokanehiddenpolicecameras@gmail.com to remind me of other incidents. These four are:

1) The Firehouse Sex Scandal
2) The July 4, 2007 Riverfront Park episode
3) The June 2007 Alberto Gonzalez visit
4) The Uberagua sex crime

In brief, here is the relevant aspect of each of these incidents.

The Firehouse Sex Scandal — In 2006, two Spokane Police Detectives ordered a Spokane fireman to destroy the evidence of a crime from his digital camera. The fireman, who was eventually forced to resign, had taken photographs while having sex on-duty with a minor girl in a Spokane city firehouse. The detectives — in a staggering act of corruption and lying — subsequently argued in their own defense that they were protecting the privacy of the girl. In fact, they were acting on the age old prerogative to protect members of the fraternity of power by illegal means, i.e., covering up, falsifying, lying, and, in this case, and destroying evidence. In summary, Spokane Police, when given the opportunity to use photographic technology in furtherance of the public order, used it to subvert the public good and to achieve the ends of their own subculture, their own fraternity of power.

The Uberagua sex crime — On October 11, 2007, a purportedly “respected” member of the Spokane Police Department and deputized member of a DEA Drug Task Force, allegedly raped a woman at a Spokane valley bar while on a drinking break with Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies. He also photographed her breasts. As one would expect, the woman subsequently recanted the rape. One can easily imagine the sympathetic response she no doubt received from Uberagua’s fellow law “enforcement” officers “investigating” the matter. The taxpayer paid Uberagua’s salary for many months after the incident. Many issues come to mind beyond just the question of exactly happened between Uberagua and the woman: her state of sobriety or non-sobriety at the time, the power differential involved, the question of Uberagua judgment and his fitness for the force, the fact that he was driving a SPD vehicle while under the influence, etc. And then there is that camera. What was Uberagua doing taking a picture of the woman’s breasts? Evidence of crime or evidence of a conquest to share with Sheriff and DEA Task Force buddies?

The July 4, 2007 Riverfront Park incident — On this infamous day when the country celebrates to a degree not warranted by its history of hypocrisies and abuses, seventeen irreverent but lawful young people were provoked, assaulted and arrested in what Gonzaga University professor of philosophy Tom Jeannot called “a near police riot”. In reality, this incident is a case study of police misuse of power. A long list of concerns come to mind from issues of infiltration and spying, to improper training and misunderstanding of the public’s right to public space and constitution freedoms all the way to police provocation and police lying in their reports of events. However, the most important part of this incident in terms of the use of surveillance cameras did not surface until 10 months later when a courageous young man — Michael Lyons — went to court against the Spokane Police Department and the City of Spokane to defend himself against misdemeanor charges of riot. Just as the trial was about to begin on May 5, 2008, a Spokane Police employee raced into the courtroom and announced that, lo and behold, some video footage of the July 4 events had suddenly “been discovered” and handed the DVD of the footage over to the court. The outraged judge dismissed the case, ironically denying the opportunity for the multiple injustices of July 4 to come before the court and the public. In fact, it is possible that faced with the disclosure of the extent of police misconduct and espionage against legally assembled citizens, the police chose to trash the case and provoke a miscarriage by turning over hidden evidence at the last moment. The Spokesman-Review in an article on 5/19/2008 reported that the videos taken by the Spokane Police and other law enforcement under the direction of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force did not back the police account of the events of July 4, 2007.

So the issue is not whether or not cameras placed all over the city by Chief Kirkpatrick’s happy band of homicidal sex offenders will actually catch people in the act of committing a crime or picking their noses, but whether or not the Chief — not without her own ethical challenges — and a police department with a long history of corrupt and criminal conduct should be entrusted in any way with unilateral powers to place and control cameras where ever and whenever they choose and, subsequently, to determine whether to use that information in a lawful and constitutional manner.

Any reading of the history of the Spokane Police Department leads to the conclusion that in the current configuration of its chain of authority, a chain from which the people of Spokane are excluded and without effective oversight, the Spokane Police can not and should not be permitted to exercise control over cameras in the public commons.

In conclusion, do you want the likes of SPD officers Jim Faddis, Dan Torok, and Jay Mehrig (with a jug band, two homicides, and a threat to kill a wife among the three of them) to have video footage of your wife, or daughter, or teenage children, or yourself, footage taken, at their whim and with their defective sense of right and wrong, with the hidden cameras increasingly proliferating across our little corner of what was once upon a time called the “land of the free”?

(This article was written by David Brookbank)

[Your suggestions on editing this article or corrections are appreciated at SpokaneHiddenPoliceCameras@gmail.com]

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Police try to coopt Environmentalist (Audio/Transcript — The Guadrian)

Posted by Arroyoribera on May 20, 2009

From Jim Camden’s May 25, 2007 report in the Spokesman-Review, as well as police actions against protesters at Alberto Gonzales’s June 27, 2007 visit to Spokane, and the Independence day (July 4) 2007 attack by JTTF directed law enforcement on protesting youth, we know that Spokane Police and other law enforcement units engage in espionage, infiltration, provocation, illegal withholding of evidence, and lying in their dealings with citizens in Spokane.

Direct action environmentalist Matilda “Tilly” Gifford recorded British police intelligence agents as they attempted to convince her to sell out her convictions, her comrades, her cause, and the planet.

This and remarkable information on the Guardian link listed at the end of this post are very informative and indicative of the critical state of “democracy” in fascist Europe and North America.

Listen to Tilly in her recorded conversation with two British intelligence police and read along with the transcripts.

Tape and transcript 1
‘We don’t discuss money, we don’t talk salaries’ Police try to recruit Matilda ‘Tilly’ Gifford, an environmental campaigner with the direct action group Plane Stupid, as an informant.

Tape and transcript 2
‘UK plc can afford more than 20 quid’

Tape and transcript 3

‘We work for the intelligence community section’


Surveillance
— The Guardian series on surveillance in the United Kingdom.

Posted in FBI in Spokane, Freedom to Fascism, History of SPD Abuses, Know Your Rights, Protest, Protest and Free Speech, Spokane Police vs. Youth, Surveillance Society | Leave a Comment »

Former Spokane Police Officer and Military SpecialOps veteran replaces non-Spanish speaking member of Governor’s Hispanic Commission

Posted by Arroyoribera on May 31, 2008

The Washington State Hispanic Commission has chosen to replace its non-Spanish-speaking northeastern Washington representative (covering Spokane and surrounding counties) with a veteran cop and military special ops “expert”. Bob Cepeda is a former Spokane Police Officer and comes to the Governor’s Hispanic Commission at a time when the Spokane Police Department is involved in extensive controversies including unresolved killings of disable individuals, illegal strip searches of minority individuals, spying and civil liberties abuses, and charges of corruption and abuse of authority, as well as the recent forced resignation of a Hispanic member of the Spokane Police Advisory Committee due to accusations of corruption against her. The presence of Cepeda on the Governor’s Commission should be cause for concern given his extensive connections within various police and military agencies, as well as for the intense focus of the commission on gangs, a topic championed by the commission’s former chairwoman, Yvonne Morton-Lopez. Now chairwoman of the Washington State Human Rights Commission, Morton-Lopez has continued to press the focus towards gangs, a topic which in a state where minorities are grossly under-represented in law enforcement is fraught with serious dangers for communities of color. Why did the Governor consider a career cop to be the appropriate representative on her committee in this moment? When will the Governor consider someone who is actually from the community to be a “commissioner”?

http://www.cha.wa.gov/english/yvonne.shtml

Bob Cepeda

Ex-Spokane Police Officer and Military Special Ops named to Washington State Hispanic Commission

Counties: Ferry, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens

(Term Expires 8/01/08 – 1st Term)

Work: Gonzaga University

502 East Boone

Spokane, WA 99258

Telephone: 509-323-3998

Email: cepeda@gonzaga.edu

Commissioner Cepeda is a born and raised native of New York City (Harlem) who currently resides in Spokane with his family.

Mr. Cepeda has over twenty five years experience working in the criminal justice field and seventeen years in military special operations. He is a current consultant and trainer on gangs, terrorism, ethics, crime prevention, and use of force issues. He is a subject-matter expert with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

(translation to Spanish by David Brookbank)

Comisión Hispana del estado de Washington reemplace a Comisionada quien no habla español con ex-policía de Spokane

La Gobernadora del estado de Washington ha nombrado al ex-policía y militar de carera Bob Cepeda como representante de la Comisión Hispana, reemplazando a la ex-comisionada Yvonne Morton-Lopez — quien no habla español — en el noreste del estado de Washington y Spokane.  Cepeda, ex-policía de la ciudad de Spokane y ‘experto’ en operaciones militares especiales, llega a la comisión en un momento en que la policía de Spokane esta involucrada en extensas controversias, incluyendo homicidios no resueltos de individuos incapacitados, cateos ilegales de minorías, espionaje y violaciones de derechos civiles, y cargos de corrupción y abuso de autoridad, igual como el caso reciente de la renuncia obligatoria de un miembro hispano del Comité de Asesoría Policíaca por acusaciones de corrupción en su contra. La presencia de Cepeda en la comisión de la Gobernadora ha de ser causa de preocupación dado a sus extensos vínculos dentro de varias agencias policíacas y militares, igual como su enfoque intenso en pandillas, un tema promovido en gran parte por la ex-presidenta y representante del noreste en la Comision Hispana, Yvonne Morton-Lopez. Ahora como presidenta de la Comisión de Derecho Humanos del estado de Washington, Morton-Lopez ha seguido enfocándose en el tema de pandillas, un tema lleno de peligros serios para las comunidades minoritarias, especialmente en un estado en donde las minorías culturales y raciales son severamente sub-representadas en las agencias policíacas locales, estatales y federales. Por que nuestra Gobernadora consideró un policía de carera apropiada para esta región en este momento? Cuando va a considerar la Gobernadora una persona de veras de la comunidad apropiada para ser “comisionado” o “comisionada”?

Posted in Corruption, Espanol, Ethics, Gangs?, History of SPD Abuses, Know Your Rights, Photographic Evidence, Racism, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Police Complaint Forms

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 11, 2008

The first two are police internal affairs forms described by Spokane Police Internal Affairs Sgt. Jim Faddis as “unnecessary”.  They were obtained from by me from Sgt. Faddis and a colleague at the Police Internal Affairs Office located at the time in the Monroe Court Building in downtown Spokane.  Faddis had initially refused to provide the documents but when I told him that I would simply file a public disclosure request and then sue if they were not released, he hand them to me.

Spokane Police Internal Affairs Form 1

Spokane Police Internal Affairs Form 2

The second two are the front and back of a form that SPD reluctantly developed in a couple years ago after persistent demands from the community.

How to File a Complaint about Spokane Police Misconduct 1

How to File a Complaint about Spokane Police Misconduct 2

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Deputy dumps quadriplegic from wheelchair in front of jail camera and colleagues

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 10, 2008

Law enforcement in the United States has become a threat to public security.

Take Spokane, Washington, where law enforcement beat, tasered, hog-tied and suffocated a disabled and innocent man, Otto Zehm, who later died. Spokane, Washington where suicidal Josh Levy was subject to 18 hours of police tactics prior to a botched tasering which prompted him to jump to his death from the Monroe Street Bridge.

Or take Hillsboro, Florida, where a Deputy — not believing that a man was a quadriplegic — violently and criminally dumps him out of his wheelchair as a way to prove it. And, of course, the surveillance video shows a Deputy laughing as he walks away from the crime.

http://www.heyokamagazine.com/HEYOKA.11.BrianSterner..htm

For more on abusive police officers, here are ten additional videos:

http://www.linkognito.com/b.php?b=727

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Know Your Rights, No Sir Officer ____, Photographic Evidence, Spokane taser, Testimonies, Videos | Leave a Comment »

A 911 Nightmare — from the website of the Center for Justice

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 7, 2008

(From the website of the Spokane Center for Justice.)

A 911 Nightmare

Center files suit on behalf of Spokane man detained and endangered after he summoned police

There’s no question that Robert Chambers did the right thing after he and his ex-wife heard a gunshot in the parking lot of their north Spokane apartment complex. Investigating the sound of the gunshot, Chambers saw a man with a gun and called 911.

That he couldn’t have imagined is that he would be the one taken into custody and that after being handcuffed he’d be put in a patrol car that would then be used as a shield by Spokane police in a standoff with the gunman.

This alarming case of mistaken identity and endangerment is now the subject of a federal lawsuit. Chambers is a 57-year-old man who suffers from a debilitating bone disease. Lawyers for the Center for Justice are seeking damages for “unreasonable seizure” and for alleged post-traumatic emotional injuries triggered as a result of Chambers’s harrowing experience in February 2005.

In the complaint filed late last week against the City, former police chief Roger Bragdon, and two individual police officers, Chambers says he was told by the 911 operator to leave his apartment and go outside to meet responding officers. But when the officers arrived, the complaint alleges, it was Chambers who was ordered to behave like a suspect, lie on his stomach with two other innocent bystanders, and then handcuffed and placed in a patrol car. According to the complaint, Chambers was taken into custody despite the efforts of his ex-wife and daughter to inform the police that they were arresting the person who’d called for help. While in the car, Chambers says he even heard the police dispatcher informing the officers that the 911 operator was reporting that the officers had seized the wrong man. Still, it was only after another police officer arrived on the scene and intervened that Chambers was released.

“Why was I singled out to be cuffed and no one else?” Chambers asked in a complaint he wrote to Bragdon in a March 9, 2005 complaint about the incident. And why, he asked, wasn’t he moved out of harm’s way during the standoff with the shooter.

“The officers used the car I was in as a shield while the suspect was being told to come out of the apartment,” Chambers wrote. “Now had the suspect been a real nut case, I was a prime target and probably would have been shot.”

Chambers, who was an active volunteer in the city’s Community Oriented Policing Services (C.O.P.S.) program, wrote that he’d “never had anything but the utmost respect” for Spokane police until the incident. In the letter to Bragdon, however, he bitterly complained about being “publicly humiliated and totally disrespected by your officers” and reported that his frustration only mounted after he tried, several times, to file a complaint about the incident with the department’s internal affairs branch.

In a March 23, 2005 response to Chambers, Deputy Police Chief Jim Nicks, defended the officers actions of putting Chambers in handcuffs and “securing you in a patrol car.”

However,” Nicks conceded, “leaving you in a patrol car that possibly places you in harm’s way is not consistent with the mission of the police department. In reviewing this incident, it appears our officers made a tactical error.”

The lawsuit alleges that Chambers’s treatment violated his Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure; that the City is responsible for “failure to properly train” the officers involved, and that the City and former Chief Bragdon are responsible for the policies that led to the violation of Chambers’s constitutional rights.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Torok — a troubling choice as spokesperson on police interrogation of 12 year olds

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 6, 2008

The March 6, 2008 edition of the Spokesman-Review ran a story on the interrogation by Spokane Police and Spokane School District 81 Resource Officers of two 12-year-old girls, KellyAnn Cameron and Taylor Wyatt, who signed away their Miranda rights despite indications that they did not understand the process nor the implication of their actions. At least one of the girls was unclear as to whether or not an “attorney” and a “lawyer” were one and the same. Nevertheless, the four law enforcement personnel interrogated the girls without presence of parents or other staff.

The story is very troubling, both in the details of the incident itself as well as in the person chosen as the spokesperson for the Spokane Police Department, Sgt. Dan Torok.

Sgt. Dan Torok is perhaps the most controversial police officer in Spokane, both for his involvement in three high profile incidents in the last few years, two of which resulted in deaths, and for his belligerent online comments under the name “Dan” at blogs run by the local Spokesman-Review newspaper. In the matter of the Alford death by Torok’s service weapon, the chief of police ordered him to issue a Garrity letter, so infrequently used that Spokane County Sheriff’s investigators were confused about its propriety, according to the reporting of the Spokesman-Review. The Garrity letter effectively shielded Torok from questioning by investigators.

(It is highly ironic that Torok was shielded by the Chief from questioning from investigators over the Alford killing yet Torok is commenting publicly in defense of the SPD regarding the interrogation of the two twelve year old girls after questionable application of a Miranda waiving statement).

The killing of Alford by Torok remains controversial. Beyond that, however, the death of Otto Zehm is even more controversial not to mention the fact that the case remains unresolved from the perspective of many. To this date it remains unclear whether or not the FBI has a review of this matter open or not. And a report on the Spokane Police by consultant Mike Worley paid for by the city of Spokane remains incomplete to this date. The status of the contract the city signed with Worley’s company to write that report also remains unclear.

Torok was one of seven Spokane Police Officers involved in the brutal March 18, 2006 attack on and subsequent death of Otto Zehm, an unarmed mentally ill man who was beaten, tasered, hog-tied, kicked, kneed, and suffocated, before dying March 20, 2006 in what the coroner called a “homicide”.  Almost exactly a year later, Torok shot a homeless man, Jerome Alford, in a little trafficked area of Spokane.

As quoted in the Spokesman-Review article, Sgt. Torok waxes eloquent in justifying the actions of the SPD and suggests that police must interrogate pre-teens and other youth at school because the presence of parents is an impediment to their interrogation techniques.

I can assure you that Miranda rights are not in the curriculum of School District 81 in the seventh grade or elementary school and I believe it is safe to say that they are not in the curriculum through 10th grade as well. One of these girls was not even sure what the word “attorney” meant without asking for clarification.

Is Sgt. Torok — who with his men did not have the judgment to understand that Otto Zehm was “carrying” a pop bottle as opposed to being “armed” with a pop bottle before brutalizing him — a credible spokesperson for the tax-payer financed Spokane Police Department on issues of police discretion and police interpretation of policy? That the Spokane Police Department would even consider Torok in such a role shows just how far they are from understanding the crisis of credibility from which they are suffering.

Sgt. Torok — whose fellow SPD detectives did not have the training, judgment and ethical uprightness to understand that the photos taken by a Spokane Fireman of a minor girl with whom improper sexual contact occurred constituted evidence of a possible crime and therefore should have been confiscated as legal evidence rather than deleted at the direction of the detectives as in fact occurred — is going to be defending the SPD before the press and public in matters of alleged misconduct? Ironically, Torok’s experience at the center of significant controversy caused by his own poor judgment and questionable actions in the field makes his selection by the SPD brass as a spokesman to the media logical in a certain perverted bureaucratic sense. Furthermore, Torok has been practicing his role defending the SPD’s indefensible and ongoing scandals for months on the blogs of the Spokesman-Review, blogs such as Hard 7 and others. In his comments on those blogs he has become a master of stonewalling, rationalization, and the dodge.

Given his role in killing mentally ill Otto Zehm and his shooting to death of homeless Jerome Alford, it is extremely dangerous and troubling to see Torok resort on multiple occasions to calling members of the Spokane community participating in those blogs ‘mentally ill‘ when their comments simply seek to inform or when they express the disdain and disgust felt in many sectors of the community towards SPD misconduct, corruption, and lack of accountability.

In fact, prominent members of the city government and the professional community should be vocally outraged and up in arms that Torok is being allowed to play this role of public spokesman, given his direct role in the murder of Zehm and the killing of Jerome Alford, not to the mention the SPD’s severely botched “intervention” in the matter of Josh Levy who jumped to his death from the Monroe Street bridge following 18 hours of being surrounded and isolated by Spokane Police and after they lied to him and botched a sneak taser attack on him.

This is a police department with ZERO credibility in dealing with “other” (the term used by Dr. John “Gus” Olson, Spokane community activist and advocate for the disadvantaged, to describe those in Spokane who are rejected for being different, looked upon with disdain for being poor, excluded for being “other”, left to rot by a society incapable of real compassion). Recall Carmen Jacoby, who testified to the Chief of Police in the public forum at City Hall on September 19, 2007. Jacoby told of the Spokane policeman who told her that in relation to homeless people sleeping in the green space near a freeway on ramp, “I have a job to do…to get these shit bags out of this park” and then threatened to put her in the bag of his squad car if she persisted in demanding his name and badge number.

Having shown incompetence which endangers public safety and a shocking level of disdain for the poor, homeless, mentally ill, and non-white, does the Spokane Police Department now move on to 12-year-old girls? Apparently so.

The manner in which a police department deals with the most vulnerable among us is highly indicative of their attitude towards the people they pretend to “protect”. How the SPD handles pre-teen girls provides a window into the core attitudes of the Department. Many members of our community, like these girls, are easily exploited by a police department without adequate procedural training, supervision, and independent oversight.

The S-R article contains links to both the pertinent R.C.W. (Washington state Revised Code of Washington, i.e., the law in Washington state) and the OLR Research Report on the Miranda rights of children.

The study states: “In determining whether a juvenile effectively waived his Miranda rights, courts consider whether the juvenile had the capacity to understand the warnings given to him, the nature of his constitutional right to remain silent, and the consequences of waiving those rights.”

The parents of the two 12-year-old girls in this case have appropriately and effectively questioned whether in this case these young girls had in fact “the capacity to understand” the Miranda warnings given to them, their constitutional rights, and “the consequences of waiving those rights”, prior to the police interrogation.

This is an area of great controversy and a fundamental issue of individual rights and protections in our nation. While some states set higher ages for children to be able to waive their Miranda rights, other states require the presence of parents. Some states, including Washington, use a “totality of circumstances” test. It is heartening to see that the ACLU is involved.

I, for one, do not trust the judgment of SPD officers in the field nor their integrity in reporting the of facts. In the case of the interrogation of these two pre-teen girls by SPD officers, that lack of integrity rises to such a level that a court would have difficulty establishing that these very young, very vulnerable girls clearly understood the waiving of their right within the “totality” of circumstances. With two Spokane Police officers and two District 81 resource officers in the room, and with at least one of these girls not certain if an attorney and a lawyer are the same thing, clearly there was an intimidation/coercion factor.

I would certainly be interested in the outcome of the internal affairs complaint filed by these parents. Sgt. Jim Faddis used to be an internal affairs officer so he could help the Spokane people and media out on that one. Sgt. Faddis was asked by me on the S-R’s Hard 7 blog (where he blogs under the names “Jim F” and “Kevin”) to clarify the exact procedure for making an internal affairs complaint in Spokane. Not surprisingly, Faddis has failed to respond to that request.

It would also be nice to get more comment from Spokane School District 81 on the parents’ request for a change in the policy regarding police interrogation of children at school. I for one would strongly support changes in the policy as well as a public education effort to educate Spokane area youth on their rights in dealing with the police.

Posted in Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Solutions, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Spokane taser, Testimonies, Torok, Trained to Kill, Unanswered Questions | 2 Comments »

Police Officers And Alcohol

Posted by Arroyoribera on March 4, 2008

While the Spokane Police Guild continues its deliberation over how much civilian oversight and subordination to the will of the public its officers are willing to accept, it is a good moment to look at the issue of police officers and alcohol. It is an increasingly well known fact that police officers are greatly affected by the stress of their jobs and that one consequence is rates of domestic violence greater than found in the general public. At the same time, the role excessive alcohol consumption in the issue of domestic violence is inadequately examined. More important, however, are the broader implications for public safety resulting from alcohol abuse by law enforcement personnel.

As previously addressed in this blog, a stag party held at the Spokane Police Guild club a number of years ago resulted in a precedent setting Supreme Court case dealing with public access to information. The Supreme Court decision quoted the Spokane City Attorney stating via affidavit that: “Release of this information, under the circumstances presented by this case, will cause substantial and irreparable damage to the Spokane Police Department’s ability to operate as a law enforcement agency, which is a vital governmental function.

And the “irreparable damage” to the Spokane Police Department has continued to this day.

Of course, the problem of alcohol abuse by law enforcement is not limited to just Spokane Police officers, of course. The Seattle P-I’s August 2007 special series documents in detail the preferential treatment of police officers throughout Washington state when they are stopped for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The article refers to two Spokane County Sheriff’s officers “who were caught driving drunk, a sergeant who tipped his truck over was given a reprimand and a deputy who was simply pulled over on a freeway got an eight-day suspension.”

More recently the people of Spokane have been subject to two grave alcohol related incidents.

In the first, a controversial Spokane police officer — already under scrutiny for his ownership of a drug house less than two blocks from an elementary school — left a Spokane bar under the influence of alcohol and shot a man in the back of the head, endangering the residents of the Peaceful Valley neighborhood of Spokane. The officer, Jay Olsen, faces charges while the man he shot and accused of stealing his truck has been acquitted of the charges against him. To make matters clearer, the city of Spokane has walked away from Olsen and left him to defend himself.

Then came the matter of Jason Uberuaga, former Gonzaga University baseball star and decorated police officer, involved in both the Intermodal Center shooting and one of seven Spokane Police officers implicated in the yet unresolved homicide by cop of Otto Zehm. Uberuaga, a deputized federal drug task force member, was fired by the chief of police for “conduct unbecoming” of an officer. In essence, the demise of Uberuaga is the result of a drinking episode with other law enforcement personnel, allegations of rape against Uberuaga, and Uberuaga driving his undercover police vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

**************************

A broken system works in favor of cops busted for DUI

By ERIC NALDER AND LEWIS KAMB
SEATTLE POST INTELLIGENCER INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

(Part 1 of a part 3 series)

The state is airing another ad against drunken driving this month warning, “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed.”

But there’s an exception out on the streets for some police officers.

Cops confronted with a drunken-driving arrest fare better than the average citizen, according to a Seattle P-I investigation of seven years’ worth of internal discipline records, arrest reports, accident reports, license-suspension files and court documents statewide.

The P-I selected 63 cases from 92 to examine closely, focusing on active duty officers who consumed alcohol before driving police or personal vehicles. Most were street cops, but nine were assigned to county or city corrections duties.

  Michael Bowe, bloodied
  Zoom Washington State Patrol
  Michael Bowe, a Thurston County sheriff’s deputy, was stopped in March 2004 in Grays Harbor County for a DUI arrest — one of five such stops while he carried a badge. How his face was bloodied was never determined, but his service weapon was in the car.
Read his story.

Five sworn officers were not prosecuted at all, despite blood-alcohol tests indicating impairment.

A half-dozen officers kept their licenses after a drunken-driving arrest simply because their paperwork missed the deadline at the state Department of Licensing. Arresting agencies are given a grace period of 50 days to file the paperwork.

Although the samples are very different in size and demographics, a member of the general public’s chance of getting a license suspension because of a breath test over the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit was double that of a cop, according to a P-I comparison. Only one of four current and former officers who refused a breath test lost her driver’s license, while the public’s rate is 16 out of 17.

  Inside Brown's car
  Zoom  
  On July 23, 2003, Tacoma police Officer Paul A. Brown registered a 0.244 blood-alcohol level and was charged with DUI. Eleven full, one empty and one partially consumed miniature scotch bottles were found in Brown’s car, as well as 15 full beers, two open beers and one empty beer container.

Police officers who were visibly inebriated and reeking of alcohol smashed their department cars or their personal cars, asked for favors, got breaks and even threatened fellow officers who had the temerity, in their minds, to arrest them, the records showed.

In one case, an unidentified colleague of an intoxicated Seattle officer who got in an accident in a city-owned car asked the arresting trooper “how we could take care of this.”

One Renton police jailer had his police identity card taped to his license as an ongoing precaution. Others outright asked for “professional courtesy.”

Impaired law officers were in at least 14 accidents, including four in police cars. Kevin Williams of the Seattle police drunkenly rolled his car on a northbound Interstate 5 offramp early one morning in 2005. Lawyer David Vanderpool and another bystander used a box cutter to free him from a seat belt just before flames consumed the car. Vanderpool said he didn’t know, until a P-I reporter recently called him, that he had saved a policeman’s life. Williams got deferred prosecution, a five-day suspension or loss of vacation time.

  Garcha accident
  Zoom Kent Police Department
  In 2002, Tacoma police Officer Gurdial Garcha hit a telephone pole in Kent in his personal van, so drunk he was nearly six times the legal limit. Some in the Tacoma department wanted him fired, but he got a two-day suspension and lost two vacation days.

In 2002, Tacoma police Officer Gurdial Garcha hit a telephone pole in Kent in his personal van, so drunk that he was nearly six times the legal limit. Some in his department wanted him fired, but he got a two-day suspension and lost two vacation days.

The Seattle Police Department was far more secretive about releasing records than any other department in the state. The department blacked out officers’ names and released fewer documents. The P-I had to find details about the cases from databases and other agencies.

“We follow the laws,” said Chief Gil Kerlikowske, whose agency signed a union contract that prevents release of names of officers in disciplinary records.

Some cases break down trust. In one Seattle case, an anonymous hospital worker confronted a sergeant when an alcohol-affected officer driving a city-owned car wasn’t investigated for DUI after a civilian motorist running a red light struck him. Despite her efforts, the officer was never prosecuted.

At the heart of the P-I’s findings is a police discipline system that is broken, illogical and unevenly applied, according to interviews, documents and a computer analysis of outcomes.

DECODING CENSORED SPD DOCUMENTSFor this project, Seattle P-I reporters sent public disclosure requests to more than 270 law enforcement agencies across Washington. Although the requests were identical in the types of records being sought — sustained officer-misconduct internal investigations — police department responses widely varied. The Seattle Police Department and Mercer Island Police Department offer good examples of the range of responses to the P-I’s request.Seattle police provided only one page of disciplinary records per each misconduct case requested and have not yet provided other documents the P-I requested. The three documents the Seattle police released to the P-I with officers’ names censored (see PDF) turned out to be the only hint of unpublicized accidents involving cops driving department cars who had been drinking. Because Seattle police were more secretive than other agencies, the P-I went elsewhere to learn the details of the crashes involving Timothy McGrath (June 21, 2002), Anthony Baily (Oct. 25, 2002) and Maria “Susan” DiTusa (June 9, 2004).By contrast, here are just the first six pages (PDF) of a Mercer Island police internal investigation of Det. Chris DeChant’s DUI-arrest and police vehicle accident on Dec. 16, 2004. Along with the complete 20-page investigative report, documents released to the P-I included an additional 86 pages of attachments, including the full Washington State Patrol arrest report, victim damage claims and the hand-written case notes of the city’s public safety director, who made the final disciplinary decision.Here’s what different officials for each city said when asked about how their city responded to the P-I’s requests:”There’s no department that handles more public disclosures than us. We follow the law.”

— Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske

“We disclosed the documents we believed we were required to under the law.”

— Mercer Island City Attorney Bob Sterbank

Regulators in Olympia and in Seattle who oversee the discipline of lawyers, judges and even cosmetologists do so through a detailed set of disciplinary standards. What passes for statewide discipline in the police world is one investigator attached to the state police academy in Auburn who reviews disciplinary records of terminated officers from various agencies to assess whether they should lose their state licenses.

In individual departments, standards are forged through union negotiations and in case-by-case consultations among sheriffs and chiefs. Few agencies maintain a schedule of discipline that could be laid out in a database — the Washington State Patrol and the Arlington Police Department being two exceptions.

The result is a lack of uniformity. Crashing a police car while inebriated on Mercer Island earned an officer a suspension 15 times longer than the penalty imposed for the same violation on the other side of Lake Washington in Seattle.

Driving drunk in a police car brought a one-day suspension for a King County sheriff’s detective and a termination in Island County. That King County detective also wasn’t prosecuted and didn’t get punished for reportedly asking the arresting state trooper for favors. A state trooper who asked for favors during a DUI arrest in a private car got a 45-day suspension and was put on probation under tough terms for the remainder of his career.

In cases in which two Spokane County sheriff’s officers were caught driving drunk, a sergeant who tipped his truck over was given a reprimand and a deputy who was simply pulled over on a freeway got an eight-day suspension.

In Seattle, Kerlikowske said he has toughened discipline for DUI while chief the past seven years. When compared with other big U.S. cities, Seattle is right in line, typically doling out three- to 10-day suspensions, he said. He said he is planning to fire repeat offenders.

Seattle Police Officers’ Guild President Rich O’Neill said cops are treated more harshly than citizens because they face discipline in addition to court proceedings. He said they can get hit in the pocketbook twice — a court fine and a loss of pay in a suspension.

However, many citizens are also disciplined at work. Under federal law, truckers lose their licenses for a year for a first drunken-drinking offense, and for life for a second. Some police officers weren’t suspended from their jobs, and some of those who were suspended were allowed to forfeit vacation instead of losing pay.

Police officers and firefighters are also specifically exempted from a federal law that requires truckers to be blood-tested after an accident.

Yakima Officer Lori Sheeley had five accidents in her patrol car and caused citizen injuries, but Assistant City Attorney Sofia Mabee said Sheeley wasn’t tested in any of them because city policy doesn’t require it. In May 2005, a year after Sheeley resigned, in part because of the accidents, she hit a barrier on a Tri-Cities bridge. She blew a breath test of .117, over the limit.

Discipline failures erode public confidence, some cops and members of the public say.

Wendi Eccles was rear-ended one December night in 2004 by a Mercer Island cop who was drunk in a city-owned car. Her back never fully recovered, and she resents that internal investigators from Mercer Island never interviewed her.

“They’re supposed to be upholding the law, making sure people don’t do this kind of stuff,” she said. “But they go do it and don’t face the same consequences.”

Former Island County Sheriff Mike Hawley, now a lieutenant in the department he led until December 2006, agrees that those charged with upholding the law should be held to a public and uniform disciplinary system. Hawley led the department when it got mired in a DUI favoritism mess in 2004.

“I think some kind of standardization of disciplinary action would be good,” Hawley said. “For criminals, we have standardized ranges.”

Hawley served until recently as a charter member of a state board that adjudicates police license-revocation cases. “I’ve seen people fired for things they should never have been fired for. Then it happens at the other end, where this guy should be fired immediately, but he isn’t because he is the boss’ best pal.”

But Kerlikowske warned that widespread police standards are “no panacea,” because they take away the ability to evaluate cases individually.

Four case studies

A review of four accidents involving police officers provides a window into the process, showing how disparate the disciplinary system is.

Seattle police Detective Sgt. Anthony Baily was cut loose from his crumpled undercover police car after a three-vehicle accident in downtown Seattle about 2 a.m. one night in October 2002.

He was later cut loose from a possible DUI.

Three hours after the accident, then-Sgt. John B. Heneghan of the West Precinct was visiting Baily at the hospital, and a nurse confronted him, records show. She asked the sergeant why Baily wasn’t being tested for alcohol when one of the other drivers was under police guard and being blood-tested, records show. Heneghan then noticed the odor of alcohol near Baily, the report said. Heneghan didn’t write down the woman’s name, and police were never able to identify her. Heneghan alerted accident investigators about 5:30 a.m.

At that point, police investigators could have blood-tested and processed Baily for DUI, but they didn’t. Seattle attorney Paul Cullen, a DUI specialist, said the law wouldn’t have prevented Baily’s prosecution. He said experts can scientifically show that a person was drunk at the time they were driving, using blood-alcohol evidence gathered by police 3 1/2 hours later.

Later that day, a lieutenant told internal investigators about the nurse’s comments.

The city attorney later considered prosecuting Baily — a police union board member — for DUI.

He considered using tests on blood vials that a paramedic and the hospital staff routinely collected from Baily right after the accident, but concluded that the evidence wouldn’t stand up in court.

Finding Baily’s case was difficult. When the Police Department released a stack of internal investigative records to the P-I — including Baily’s — the accused officers’ names were blacked out, as the city’s contract with the police union dictates. But Baily’s name was visible on a sheet mentioning his three-day suspension for, among other things, “use of alcohol” in his department car.

The report noted that the accident wasn’t his fault, and, indeed, it wasn’t.

Lynnwood defense lawyer Jim Feldman, who represented the inebriated man who ran a red light and hit Baily’s car, told the P-I that he had felt Baily deserved a DUI citation.

He said Baily’s unofficial test reading was higher than that of his client, who was prosecuted. Records ultimately confirmed that his client’s blood-alcohol level was 0.10 and Baily was between 0.12 and 0.15.

Three weeks after the accident, SPD internal investigators with a search warrant obtained three vials of Baily’s blood and test results from Harborview Medical Center. The state toxicology lab tested it.

Selected for evidence was the lowest reading, which was from the first vial drawn less than a half-hour after the accident. An investigator, Sgt. Mike Teeter, and supervising assistant city attorney Mike Finkle explored a possible DUI case, but in July 2003 Finkle wrote a memo concluding that it wasn’t possible.

He noted that blood collected by the hospital wasn’t preserved or handled in the way courts require. Finkle based his decision largely on technical opinions by Ann-Marie Gordon, manager of the state toxicology lab.

Gordon was concerned about a lack of preservatives and chain of custody of evidence and speculated about how a skilled lawyer might defend Baily. She suggested an admittedly unlikely defense that Baily had pounded down eight doses of liquor, wine or beer immediately before driving, and at the moment of impact hadn’t yet reached the legal intoxication level of 0.08, documents show.

Gordon’s credibility has since come into question. She resigned her post July 20, several days after the State Patrol began investigating whether she had lied about testing ethanol-water solutions used to make certain that breath-test machines are working properly. If proved, the allegations could lead to hundreds of challenges of DUI convictions.

As for the Baily case, Cullen, the DUI lawyer, said court precedents indicate that he could have been prosecuted using the hospital blood.

The P-I asked Chief Kerlikowske last week about Baily’s case. After that interview, documents previously requested but not provided to the P-I were made available for review. Both the Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office said they had been preparing the release. To date, not all of Baily’s records have been provided.

Kerlikowske visited Baily at the hospital an hour after the nurse blew the whistle that night, but was then unaware of the nurse’s tip, said department legal adviser Mark McCarty. Kerlikowske said he didn’t smell alcohol, but if he had, he would have ordered a DUI investigation on the spot.

Feldman said his client, David Cotner, 27, of Winthrop may have benefited from what he believes was SPD’s fear of publicity. That’s why the city abandoned plans to charge Cotner with vehicular assault, a felony, and didn’t challenge his request for deferred prosecution in the DUI case, Feldman speculates.

Kerlikowske bristled at that. “I just find that incredulous. That is so far outside the bound of what the prosecutor or a Police Department would do to keep something outside a newspaper,” he said.

In another case, a Seattle police officer first tried to avoid calling police after rear-ending a young Renton man’s car, then got on the phone with his superiors, who eventually had a conversation with the Washington State Patrol trooper investigating the accident.

Seattle police Officer Timothy McGrath drove his unmarked SPD Pontiac Grand Am into the rear of the man’s Ford Tempo on Interstate 405 near Renton at 11:30 p.m. on June 21, 2002. No one was hurt.

A “nervous” McGrath suggested to Jeff Shane, 18, that they exchange insurance information and go their separate ways. He didn’t seem drunk, Shane said, but he “was really hinting toward not calling the police, if not outright saying it.”

  McGrath
  Seattle police Officer Timothy McGrath drove his unmarked department car into the rear of a Renton man’s vehicle on Interstate 405. McGrath was charged with DUI but pleaded guilty to negligent driving and was issued an occupational driver’s license.

But Shane called 911, and McGrath got on his cell phone. SPD officers arrived to talk with him, and a state trooper arrived roughly a half-hour later.

McGrath smelled of alcohol and handed his commission card to Trooper James Miller the minute he arrived, the trooper wrote in his arrest report.

Miller told him to sit tight while he called a State Patrol sergeant to the scene, who “made some phone calls” and told the trooper to process McGrath like “any other person.”

All the way to the Renton police station, McGrath talked on his cell phone to “his superiors” from the back of Miller’s cruiser, the trooper wrote.

Then, while McGrath waited to take a breath test at the station, he handed his cell phone to the trooper.

“They asked me how we could take care of this,” Miller wrote, referring to unidentified parties on the cell phone call. “I told them I’d send (the) case up the chain of command. It was up to them.”

Timing was key, because as soon as anyone takes a breath test, a state computer records the name and the reading. Was someone at the other end of the phone line trying to stop the process of a DUI citation?

“Nobody came out and said that,” said a State Patrol spokesman, Capt. Jeff DeVere. “But (Miller) said it seemed that might have been what was asked.”

Miller doesn’t remember the name or affiliation of whom he spoke to on the cell phone, DeVere said. “He doesn’t remember who he was. We don’t know if it was an officer.”

O’Neill, of the Guild, suggested that someone could have been impersonating a supervisor or an officer.

Troopers don’t usually allow DUI suspects to talk on cell phones from a cruiser out of concern for officer safety, but there are exceptions, DeVere said. He didn’t feel that Miller did anything wrong.

McGrath registered nearly twice the limit on the breath-test machine, a 0.136, and though cited for DUI, he pleaded guilty to first-degree negligent driving. His license was suspended for 90 days, but an occupational driver’s license was issued to allow him to continue driving at work, according to state Department of Licensing records. Such licenses are often issued with employer approval to allow people to drive for work.

SPD internal affairs had the trooper’s report but did not investigate McGrath’s cell phone calls from that night, said McCarty, the SPD legal adviser. More than a year after the accident, in August 2003, the SPD issued a suspension order to McGrath, five days for “conduct unbecoming” for the negligent-driving conviction. The officer was allowed to forfeit vacation instead of losing pay.

The P-I found the cryptic order in a stack of papers the SPD turned over to the newspaper with the names of the offending officer blacked out. Databases the reporters obtained helped them identify the case. McGrath resigned from the SPD in 2005.

“Well, that’s all very interesting information,” he said from his Florida home after a reporter detailed what he knew. “But I’m not interested in talking to you about it. I don’t think it’s really any of your business.”

In another case, it was a night of holiday partying that ended with a Mercer Island patrol car rear-ending a civilian’s car, and a King County prosecutor who had been at the same party arriving at the police station to represent the interests of the drunken police officer.

The officer’s job suspension was 15 times longer than what SPD leveled against McGrath for essentially the same offense. The Mercer Island cop wasn’t allowed to forfeit vacation time.

Instead, Detective Chris DeChant got the stiffest discipline of any of the cops who drank and crashed a police car, a 75-day suspension. That’s the harshest penalty ever given by Mercer Island police short of firing, said police Chief Ed Holmes, who was then in charge of the internal investigation.

  DeChant
  Mercer Island police Detective Chris DeChant was given a 75-day suspension after he drank and rear-ended a civilian’s vehicle with his police car. It was the harshest penalty ever given by Mercer Island police short of firing.

But other police administrators around the state said any violation drawing more than a 30-day suspension should be a dismissible offense, and that goes especially for anyone drunk in an agency car.

“If it was sustained they were drunk, and they were driving a patrol car, they are fired,” said Benton County Sheriff Larry Taylor. “That tears at your credibility, of the entire department.”

Guild President O’Neill said the toughest discipline possible under the Seattle contract, short of firing, is 30 days.

Eccles, the day care operator whose back was injured when she was rear-ended, feels that DeChant got off easy. She couldn’t work for a month.

DeChant, who didn’t respond to interview requests, caught some breaks in the case.

For example, his license should have been revoked for a year when he refused a blood-alcohol test after the accident, but it wasn’t. A Des Moines Municipal Court judge suppressed his breath-test refusal due to confusing instructions from the trooper. Because of that, the state Department of Licensing had to let him drive.

Eccles said she could tell DeChant “was drunk” the moment she saw him. He handed her his police business card when she asked for insurance information and repeatedly told her the damage would be covered. She called 911.

Some confusion arose that night when King County Deputy Prosecutor Greg Fullington, who was assigned to DeChant’s narcotics task force and had been at the same party, initially tried to act as his attorney, but withdrew when reminded that his office was responsible for prosecuting DeChant.

Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson said he “vigorously counseled” Fullington for what was “not the proper role for a King County prosecutor.” Fullington has since left the office.

Eccles was disgusted by the whole mess.

“He’s still able to drive. His license wasn’t even taken away,” she said. “I don’t understand why guys like him get to be above the law.”

Internally, DeChant signed a “last chance” agreement that said he’d be fired for another alcohol-related offense. But when three more charges were sustained against him earlier this year for drinking and making a scene at an officer awards banquet, he got only a letter of reprimand.

“I didn’t believe (the most recent violations) were severe enough for termination,” Chief Holmes said. “He’s a good officer, and he works really hard.”

In another case, Seattle Detective Maria “Susan” DiTusa said from the wreckage of her unmarked police car that she was a police detective — “before I could even ask DiTusa any questions,” State Trooper Joseph Zimmer wrote in his report.

“I only had one, and my co-worker can attest to that,” she said of her drinking.

Maybe she was rattled when she smashed the side of her department’s Ford Taurus into the Mercer Street exit tunnel wall on June 9, 2004, because she probably wasn’t telling the truth. She recorded 0.137 on a preliminary breath test, more than the effects of one drink.

At the hospital, DiTusa refused a blood test that would have legally determined her level of intoxication. Preliminary tests aren’t admissible in court.

DiTusa appealed the state’s mandatory one-year license revocation for refusing a blood-alcohol test, but when the Licensing Department rejected her arguments, she obtained an occupational driver’s license.

Kerlikowske gave her a five-day suspension but allowed her to forefeit vacation in lieu of it. He promised to impose five more days if she got drunk and crashed another patrol car — “similar misconduct” is how he put it — within the next two years. The chief cited her “forthright cooperation with the administrative investigation” for the leniency.

In court, she reduced her criminal DUI citation to first-degree negligent driving by pleading guilty.

UPCOMING

Tuesday: Looking through mountains of public documents and internal reports, the P-I reveals how cops avoid arrest.
Wednesday: One officer whose career ended after a highly public DUI tells his story – and what’s wrong with the system.

P-I reporter Daniel Lathrop and P-I researcher Marsha Milroy contributed to this report. P-I reporter Eric Nalder can be reached at 206-448-8011 or ericnalder@seattlepi.com. P-I reporter Lewis Kamb can be reached at 206-448-8336 or lewiskamb@seattlepi.com.

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Law, Spokane LE Personalities, Spokane Police Guild, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Police Union Resistance: A Tactical Overview — Covert Action Quarterly

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 28, 2008

[Note: See section in bold print for reference to Spokane’s place in the history of police intransigence and resistance.]

CovertAction Quarterly
Cops Vs. Citizen Review, continued


Family_protests_NYPD_killing

Family of Mary Mitchell protests her killing by NYPD
after a domestic dispute.

POLICE UNION RESISTANCE:A TACTICAL OVERVIEW

It is not surprising, then, that the FOPs and police unions paramilitary labor organizations whose purpose is to protect the interests of their patrol officer members will go to great lengths to eliminate oversight. The tactics that police organizations increasingly use illustrate some of the ways in which they differ from other trade unions. They also show how difficult it is to distinguish genuine labor grievances from attempts by police to avoid accountability. As in Philadelphia, police organizations around the country are developing an increasingly sophisticated array of tools designed to manipulate the political system and sabotage the citizen review boards. At least five categories of tactics are being implemented.

1. NATIONAL LEVEL ORGANIZING I wasn’t political when I came out of the FBI, says Charles Kluge, a former agent who is current executive director of Philadelphia’s PAC, [but] some of the political stuff has been very eye-opening. 16 Over the past decade, police unions have become extremely politicized and have established a national lobbying presence. In October 1994, for example, the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) founded the National Law Enforcement Officer Rights Center in Washington, D.C., to protect officers’ legal and constitutional rights that are being infringed upon by a wave of anti-police civil litigation. NAPO’s main objective appears to be passage of a national Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights Act which attempts to weaken state and local review by allowing only commissioned police officers to conduct investigations. NAPO claims that the bill, sponsored by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), is collectively supported by its 475,000 police officer members, by the Fraternal Order of Police and by the International Brotherhood of Police Officers.

2. LITIGATION SABOTAGE On the state and local level, police response to perceived incursions on their autonomy follows a pattern. John Crew, of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Police Practices Project, has identified three stages of union resistance to citizen oversight:

  • Over My Dead Body. After a particular, usually racially charged, incident prompts serious community discussion of citizen oversight, police leaders threaten to resign or take other extreme action.
  • Political Inevitability. When a visible pattern of abuses emerges, police leaders suddenly undergo a magic conversion, and become proponents of citizen oversight advocating a pallid model lacking such teeth as subpoena power and independent investigations.
  • Post-Partum Litigation. If a community manages to obtain strong citizen oversight, even if only on paper, police union resistance becomes vehement. Increasingly, unions are initiating lawsuits (such as that currently underway in Philadelphia) challenging the underlying authority or legality of the citizen review process. In California such lawsuits are common, even though many California boards have been operating for up to 20 years, and even though, says the ACLU’s Crew, these suits have been 100 percent unsuccessful. In not one single legal challenge have the unions won.

If chilling citizen oversight is the goal of these unwinnable SLAPP suits, chilling citizens’ complaints is the predictable result of another union tactic. In the fall of 1994, the Seattle Police Officers Guild slapped defamation suits against six citizens who had filed complaints that were not upheld by the department’s internal investigations section. The suits were apparently prompted by the citizen review auditor’s recommendation that officers who had logged a certain number of unsustained complaints be required to undergo intensive supervision. Although the guild’s suits were ultimately dropped, citizen complaints in Seattle dropped almost 75 percent in the next six months.

3. OBSTRUCTIONIST TACTICS
When faced with a citizen review board which has independent investigative powers, leaders of police unions often advise their members to refuse or avoid subpoenas or interviews, to plead the Fifth Amendment, or to otherwise block an inquiry. This obstructionism is illegal, according to Crew. Although officers cannot be forced to testify if they plead the Fifth Amendment, they can be disciplined or discharged for their refusal. *22 Police unions, says Crew, invoke these tactics even though they know that they will not win in court and that review boards have the legal power to compel statements. The effect of the obstructionism and of SLAPP suits against citizens who file complaints is time-consuming and expensive litigation; the goal is to create enough pressure to force cities and counties to back down.

4. STATE LEGISLATION & LOBBYING
Law enforcement groups use their significant political clout, based largely on financial resources. According to a 1992 study by California Common Cause, law enforcement groups in that state contributed $1.2 million to local lawmakers between 1989 and 1991. [L]aw enforcement groups also hold the potent weapon of campaign endorsements, the study noted. …If legislators vote against bills supported by police interests, they know they run the risk of being labeled as `soft on crime,’ even if the legislation has nothing to do with public safety. The last thing a legislator wants in an election year is to lose the endorsement of police groups, or worse yet, wind up on their hit list.

In California, and other states, law enforcement groups have used this clout to pass a Police Officer Bill of Rights that grants privileges to cops during disciplinary processes privileges not available to suspects whom the same officers may have arrested or questioned. The Bill of Rights proposed in Pennsylvania, for example, restricts non-department questioning of officers and prohibits anonymous complaints. Others require that complaints be removed from personnel files after a few years and restrict the types of behavior that can trigger disciplinary action.

In 1992 and again this year, California legislators proposed major amendments to that state’s Bill of Rights Act imposing a one-year statute of limitation from the time of the complaint to the date of punitive action. Given normal backlog and lengthy appeal delays, this limit would have virtually guaranteed immunity from discipline. Massive organized opposition from the ACLU and other groups defeated the proposed legislation.

5. ADMINISTRATIVE CHALLENGES OVER COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
Although sometimes they lose sight of it, the primary purpose of police organizations is to represent members as public employees and to collectively bargain with municipal and state governments over such negotiable issues as wages, benefits, off-duty pay, hours, and promotional opportunities. Since 1986, when the federal Fair Labor Standards Act was applied to public employees, most police unions have argued that the issue of citizen involvement in individual officer discipline falls under collective bargaining and thus involves only two parties: the union and the employer. This position omits entirely the role of a public justifiably concerned that police will act abusively or unlawfully and that their superiors will not take appropriate disciplinary action. The Ohio Supreme Court has recognized this right of the public to participate. Since collective bargaining is not an appropriate process for the full consideration of the issues raised in a complaint by a citizen against a police officer, it ruled, effective citizen review is essential to maintaining the public trust and disciplining police abuses.

Not all rulings have been as sympathetic to public involvement. In 1992, the Spokane (Washington) City Council established a citizen review process giving citizens the right to appeal whenever the police chief refused to discipline an officer after a complaint. The police union fought back with a complaint to the state’s Public Employment Relations Commission. It alleged that the City had unilaterally changed procedures and by publicly disclosing disciplinary information, had invaded the officers’ privacy rights, something that inherently constitutes a working condition.

The Emploment Relations Commission agreed with the union that changes in disciplinary procedures were subject to collective bargaining. It ordered the city to dismantle the Citizens Review Panel and to negotiate with the union. Spokane did not appeal this ruling and set out to work with the police body to create a new oversight mechanism one that includes police representatives, holds secret hearings, and has no subpoena power.

On the other side of the country, the same scenario is being played out. The Syracuse (New York) Police Benevolent Association has filed a similar complaint against the Citizen Review Board. A decision by the New York Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) is pending. The most dangerous aspect of all this, says community activist Nancy Rhodes who edits Policing by Consent, is that we have no access to the process. The PERB hearings are conducted in secret as are the union negotiations. There are no democratic controls.

PHILADELPHIA: AN ALL-OUT CITIZEN REVIEW WAR

In Philadelphia, too, the FOP is clearly in full-blown post-partum resistance sparked by the DeJesus case, but fueled by the potential effectiveness of the city’s citizen review mechanism. Created in October 1993 after a fierce political struggle, it has subpoena power, independent investigators and the power to conduct public hearings. After it was funded and staffed in late 1994 and took on the DeJesus death-in-custody as its first case, the local FOP began to actively sabotage the PAC investigation. Few cities are more in need of citizen oversight than Philadelphia. At about the same time the FOP was challenging citizen review, six of its members pled guilty to federal charges stemming from blatant corruption in Philadelphia’s largely African-American 39th District. The New York Times described the convicted cops as so corrupt, so calloused to the rights and welfare of residents that the details have shaken the city to its roots. Federal charges include conspiracy, obstruction of justice and pocketing more than $100,000 in cash they robbed from suspected drug dealers through beatings, intimidations, illegal searches and denying suspects their constitutional rights. Revelations from this latest in a series of police scandals will force the city to set aside at least 1,400 drug-related convictions and pay millions of dollars for false arrest and imprisonment claims.

An FBI investigation of Philadelphia’s Police Department, started in 1992 in the 39th District, now includes the department’s Highway Patrol, as well as other areas, including the predominantly Latino 25th District, where DeJesus died.33 Even Ken Rocks, vice president of the local FOP, admitted that the prospect of the arrest of additional officers was certain and very, very distressing.

Still, the FOP maintains that the police can police themselves. The case of officer John Baird makes nonsense of that claim. Baird, who had made thousands of arrests in the 39th District by the time of his discharge, had received excellent ratings from his superior officers, while he was racking up 22 citizen complaints all dismissed. By the 23rd complaint, Baird was confident that the whole thing would go away, just as the previous 22 complaints had. His downfall was bad timing. The last complaint was filed in March 1991, just as the Rodney King case prompted the Justice Department to review all police brutality cases, including those in Philadelphia. The resulting FBI investigation and arbitration hearing revealed Baird’s sordid history of fabricating evidence, buying off witnesses, and lying and covering up.

It also came out that over the past five years, Philadelphia’s Police Internal Affairs Unit had investigated almost 600 citizen complaints. Only ten were sustained, with only two Philadelphia officers actually disciplined. The enormous bias in the department and its almost total inability to deal with a department run amuck was undeniable.36

Nonetheless, the FOP refuses to cooperate with an agency whose main purpose is to bolster public trust in the police. And community leaders in Philadelphia, particularly those in the Latino community, continue to demand that the Police Advisory Commission function in the public eye to deal with rogue officers. The Commission is the only hope that our community has to redress the wrongs of some of the officers from that District, says one 25th District Latino leader. *37 Another community leader hopes that the DeJesus hearings will begin a cleansing process that in the long run will restore the community’s confidence in a critical public service. Hopefully, something positive will come out of the DeJesus tragedy.

WEIGHING THE COSTS

Some of the demands by police unions, including the right to due process during any disciplinary proceeding, deserve active citizen support. Others far exceed the boundaries of legitimate labor concerns: Police officers should not be entitled to a separate Bill of Rights that encourages disregard of the real thing and promotes an official sense of separateness and privilege. In addition, contrary to the administrative ruling in Washington state, the daily working conditions of police are not affected by citizen review since boards only recommend discipline to a police chief who then decides whether or not to act. At least one state supreme court has upheld this position.

As the situation in Philadelphia illustrates, unions have the resources to launch innumerable chilling lawsuits. They can obstruct and sabotage, refuse to cooperate, and take the Fifth. But in the end, when the situation festers to the point that it has in Philadelphia, citizen oversight and democracy have a chance to reassert themselves.

LAPD_officers_beat_riot_suspect

LAPD officers beat a riot suspect at a downtown music-street fair.
The suspect was not arrested.

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, In Collective Self-Defense, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Spokane Police Guild, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Police Brutality at Bottoms Up Tavern in Spokane on February 22, 2008

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 28, 2008

Serious questions remain about what actually took place when 38 Spokane area law enforcement personnel besieged the Bottoms Up Tavern at 13921 E. Trent late Friday night/early Saturday morning. Reports are that police indiscriminately wielded batons and that one man was simply dumped along the roadway by officers after he “angered” them by vomiting blood in their patrol car. Accounts of the incident include officers providing unclear and contradictory instructions to patrons resulting in improper arrests. In addition some of the victims of police misconduct at the scene reportedly were Iraq war veterans. Media reports on the matter have been extremely sketchy, with few details reported. Some of those arrested were booked and released extremely quickly. This is indicative of a situation in which clear law enforcement misconduct has come to the attention of superiors and prosecutors who then look for a way to make it go away.  Look for charges to be dropped in the hopes that the whole thing will simply goes away.  Given that there are no effective law enforcement oversight mechanisms in Spokane or Spokane County and that the procedures for making a complaint are unclear, one can only hope that those involved find good legal representation to mount a law suit against the responsible officers and agencies.

Posted in History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Spokane Police Department and Accuracy Watch

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 28, 2008

The Spokane Police Department has certainly had a long, self-induced spell of that bad luck over the last few years, having seen terms like corruption and scandal and homicide and lack of judgment used frequently to describe their actions. They have seen their finest, such as decorated Officer Jason Uberagua (one of the officers involved in killing Otto Zehm) go down in flames. They have had to suffer the embarrassment even of those whose demise is not in the least a surprise, such as Officer Jay Olsen — known for owning a busy drug property on the near north side just two blocks from an elementary school and the man who under the influence of alcohol woke up Peaceful Valley by shooting Shonto Pete in the back, managing to lodge bullets in the back of the innocent Pete’s head and in a nearby home. Any number of such incidents are spelled out in the chronology which launched this blog and more can be found by searching the Spokesman-Review archives and the internet will turn up much more.

So what do think we will see posted on the Spokane Police website on their “Accuracy Watch” page? Perhaps a correction to Corporal Lee’s fallacious interpretation of crime statistics? I don’t think so. Or perhaps an apology for the role played by the Spokane Police Gang Enforcement Team (GET) in spreading cooked data on alleged gang membership in Spokane via their public seminars on “gangs”?

Currently “Accuracy Watch” sports nothing more than the Spokane area temperature. However watching the evolution of the increasingly slick SPD website, knowing Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s reported public relations savvy (though that has not always been evident), and observing the grooming of Officer Jennifer DeRuwe as the primary spokesperson for the SPD, it will be interesting to see what their next step will be in “spin control”. DeRuwe and the department have already made expert use of COPS TV as a public relations tool at the height of their crisis of credibility. Now if they can get a handle on other loose canons likely to crash and burn next or at least purge YouTube of unfavorable videos, they may yet win their battle for the hearts and minds of the people of Spokane.

Here is to ya’, Officer Brownlee — “You honkey, We drinkey” or Officer Brownlee’s Excellent Adventure

Posted in Corruption, Ethics, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Know Your Rights, Lies Damn Lies and ..., Statistics, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »

Catalog of SpokanePoliceAbuses Blog Posts — July 17, 2007 to February 4, 2008

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 4, 2008

Appropriately, and as hoped, the post entitled “Laying out the case…” is the most read during the seven months since I created the blog Spokane Police Abuses: Past to Present — The People of Spokane vs. Law Enforcement Abuses, Impunity, Corruption, and Cover-up.

“Laying out the case…” is a compendium, by no means exhaustive, of incidents of importance in the history of the Spokane Police Department and its reign of scandal, murder, corruption, cover-up, impunity, arrogance, lying, pension-padding, spying, and stupidity.

Your comments, corrections, suggestions, and additions are invited. Please write me at SpokanePoliceAbuses@gmail.com.

This index list all SpokanePoliceAbuses posts from the most read to the least read. By the way, some of the infrequently read posts are quite interesting!

Laying out the case…  
Prison Towns — Walla Walla, Shelton and Spokane  
Torture, SERE, Fairchild & Spokane  
SCSO–Pistols, Submachine guns, and Battle Rifles
   
The Role of Spokane, Fairchild, and SERE in U.S. Torture Policy  
Know Your Rights: Boy Confronts Police  
     
About the Blogmeister    
Rape Allegation Against Deputized Federal Drug Task Force Member — SPD Officer Jason Uberuaga
   

   
Urban Legend or part of Spokane anti-gang campaign
   
Spokane Crime Statistics, Reports, and Concerns    
Spokane Gang Crisis?    
The Man Who Broke the Camel’s Back    
One way to stop abusive cops — Put a video in your car    
What Does Self-Defense Against Riot Police Look Like?
   
Learn how to spy on your neighbor in a police state
   
Spokane cops to spin their own story on COPS TV
   
FBI Watchlist — Spokane Edition (Update)  
Sexual misconduct against Women in Washinton State Prisons
   
Spokane Police Department Radio Signal Codes    
The Gang Reality–Looking to root causes    
Arming Ourselves Against State Repression    
Choose Your Weapons, Gentlemen — For th    
Post Falls Company to be purchased by Blackwater    
Police Surveillance, Intimidation and Suppression    
Mark Fuhrman — Spokane Area Law Enforcement    
Spokane’s dirty little secret — What Mi    
Spokane Police Brutality on Camera    
Girl vs. Police Baton    
Crime Statistics, Reports, and Concerns    
Homeboy Industries / Homegirl Bakery    
Spokane’s Para-military SWAT Team — Pol    
Suicide by Cop — I’d have jumped too    
Ron Wright — Spokane Area Law Enforcement Personality of Note
   
SPD Officer Dan Torok waxes eloquent at Hard 7
   
Gangs and the School of the Americas    
Who is Jason Oakley?    
Peace Officers or Sanctioned Thugs?    
Know Your Rights — Tin Soldiers and Nixon’s Coming    
The War Against Us All — Immortal Technique    
All-White Washington State Tactical Officers Association
   
Photos of All-White Spokane Police Depart    
Rampant Police Misconduct Scandals in U.S.    
Working up from the streets — Rev. Greg    
Know Your Rights: Boy Confronts Police    
Buried Deep in the Spokesman’s Blogs �    
Weaponry    
Training Spokane Law Enforcement in Inte    
     
Urgent Call: Protest of Spokane’s CIA-c    
Color of Law Matters — Spokane FBI Chie    
Gonzaga University — a police-free zone for sex crimes
   
Citizen videographer describes filming p    
Fighting Police Abuse: A Community Action Guide
   
Ethical Lapse by Chief Kirkpatrick?    
The Testimony of Abbie Hoffman — Trial    
Diversity at the Spokane Police Department    
Police Batons    
Here Come’s The Thought Police — Baltimore Sun
   
“You honkey, We drinkey” or Officer Brownlee
   
Prisoner Abuse: Patterns from the Past –    
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps    
Are You in a Gang?    
Report: FBI’s troubled relationship with Spokane area Law Enforcement    
SPD slumlord Jay Olsen’s drug house    
Alan Chertok — Spokane Area Law Enforcement Personality of Note    
And they call this a choice?    
The Spokane 17–Defending Freedom–Power to the People
   
Re-cap: 7/27/07 Law enforcement tasers suicidal man
   
Police Records Missing? Have Jeanie Spiering Check the Storage Closet    
SPD ‘officer’: “I have a job…to get these shit bags out of the park”    
Urgent Call — re: Spokane Police Department    
FBI in Spokane — Informant posed as The Valley Herald journalist    
Urgent — “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot
   
In Memoriam — Otto Zehm (1970 – 2006)    
Spokane Police Guild Forum Page    
Battle Ready — The SPD’s Military Arsenal    
All-White Spokane Police Department? Or    
Ladies and gentleman, yourrrrrrrr Spokane Police Department    
FBI Watchlist — Spokane Edition    
Acts of Conscience — Spokane Circus Protest    
ACLU: Know Your Rights    
LE Friendly vs. LE Hostile — Spokane Police Guild Forum Discussion    
The Shock Doctrine — Naomi Klein (short video)
   
LAW ENFORCEMENT CODE OF ETHICS    
URGENT CALL (10/03/07)–Gang Seminar by    
Filing a complaint against the Spokane Police Department
   
CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces    
FBI — Fabricating Bogus Information — False Ballistic Information
   
Marie Yates: “Qualified” for what?    
Urgent Call: Goetz to Guide Public in Gentil Chat with Chief
   
War Made Easy    
Urgent Call: Police Advisory Committee Meeting    
“In the Event of Riots, Civil Distrubance, and    
Citizen Review Commission is NOT the answer    
Spokane Police Bloggers at Spokesman-Review Blogs
   
Police Reservists Bring the War Home —    
Retired Spokane Police Don’t Go to Heaven    
License to Kill — per Spokane County Prosecutor    
All-White Spokane Police Department?    
Revocation of Police Officer Certification    
“Irreparable Damage” — Spokane Police Guild    
Sibel Edmonds — Blowing the lid off the CIA, FBI and high level Traitors    
Lies, damn lies, and…SPD Cpl. Lee and Statistics differ over crime rate    
Civilian Oversight Boise Style — Coverage by the Spokesman-Review
   
Clean Sweep — Changes eliminate Kirkpatrick testimonial on Worley website
   
“Vulnerable Adults and the City of Spokane    
Videos at Spokane Police Abuses    
State of Washington Promotes Killer Cop    
Fascism Watch: ‘Non-Lethal Weapons’    
Learn how to spy on your neighbor in a post-9/11 neo-fascist America    
How to beat a red-light camera    
The ACLU Defends Police    
Spokane Police Guild to Chief & Public: We’ll investigate ourselves
   
Intimidation–It’s job one for Spokane Police Department    
The FBI in Peace and War    
Index of Posts at SpokanePoliceAbuses    
Police Harassing Spokane Youth?    
From Gonzales to Mukasey — Still Carrying Water for Bush on Torture    
Taser Trouble — The Infamous UCLA Video    
Unanswered questions for Spokane reporters    
Presidential Advance Manual — Free Speech, Rally Squads, and Local Police Coordination
   
Urgent Call– Protest to close down Guantanamo    
Surveillance Rights for the Public    
Wil Elder on July 4, 2007 Police Riot in Riverfront Park    
SPD Officer Jason Uberuaga fired for “conduct unbecoming”
   
Dr. Tom Jeannot reflects on July 4, 2007    
We Will Not Be Silent    
Reflections on Blogging Down the SPD    
Guidance on How to Cook the Police Oversight Process    
When Others Were Silent, Dennis Kucinich Stood Up    
Video of Spokane protest arrests shows “casual lack of respect for free speech”    
Court allows suit to proceed against city of Spokane for false arrest by Officer Strickland
   
Respond by e-mail: Your help needed    
More unanswered questions for Spokane reporters    
Call it Democracy — Bruce Cockburn    
Educating the Chief — It’s Spokane, not Spokaloo
   
Quarantining Dissent — Fascism on our Doorstep    
Death by TASER – The Tragic Death of Roger Holyfield
   
La Coartada    
Testimony: Mother and son recount 7/8/0    
Stay tuned for: Dave Oliveria and the Tootsweets    
Most frequently accessed posts on SpokanePoliceAbuses    
2007 Was Worst Year of Iraq Occupation –    
And then CragCrawler said to USMC Gunner M4 — I heard it through the grapevine    
9/11 Truth    
Che Guevara, presente!    
Know Your Rights: While you still have them
   
Be a Whistle Blower    
Urgent call from U.S. Comptroller General    
Boise Office of the Community Ombudsman    
Andrew “Skip” Pavlischak — Spokane Area Law Enforcement Personality of Note    
The Clash: Know Your Rights    
We the people…..    
Up 40% year-to-date    
The People vs. Bush — Evidentiary Item    
Are Racist Cops Better Organized Than We Thought    
Terrorism in Spokane — 1990 to 1996    
Anything sound familiar here?    
Lady in a Red Suit: Know Your Rights    
America: A Nation of Cowards?    
Independent Oversight! Now!    
About this blog — Why this blog, how to use it
   
Boys in Blue at the Ballot — August 7 and August 8, 2007
   
Comparative Policing — Istanbul vs. Spokane    
Urgent Call: Police Advisory Committee    
Remember, remember, the 11th of September!    
The Real News    
Stop it, Stop it, You’re Killin’ Me!    
Welcome to 1984    
     
War coming home to roost — just the beginning    
Laying out the case…    
Guns and Policing: Standards to Prevent Use (Amnesty International)    
Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents    
SPD officials endorse Citizen Oversight    
Canada Puts U.S. on Torture Watch List    
Dissent    
School of the Americas: U.S. Foreign Policy    
Outside it’s (fascist) America    
     
…narrowly construed in favor of disclosure    
Turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse    
     
Urgent Call: Spokane Human Rights Commision    
     
U.S. Gov’t Propagandists Who Created Iraq Fiasco Now Plan for Iran    
4/16/08 Chief Anne Kirkpatrick on Keeping the Community Safe
   
Spokane Racism — new blog by Arroyoribera    
Ward Churchill: Know Your Rights    
HGS Savage Family    
Riddle me this, Batman!

Posted in History of SPD Abuses | Leave a Comment »

Are Racist Cops Better Organized Than We Thought?

Posted by Arroyoribera on February 1, 2008

[Note from SpokanePoliceAbuses blogmeister: Hopefully those at Spokane’s so-called “progressive” radio station KYRS – Thin Air Community Radio who are discussing airing a radio show hosted by racist ex-LA cop Mark Fuhrman are paying attention to information like this.]

Are Racist Cops Better Organized Than We Thought?

This is just chilling:

INSIDE the locker of a narcotics cop, Philadelphia police officials recently made a shocking discovery: A cartoon of a man, half as an officer in uniform and half as a Klansman with the words: “Blue By Day – White By Night. White Power,” according to police officials.

…Schweizer, 33, joined the force in June 1997 and makes $54,794 a year, city payroll records show. He became part of the elite Narcotics Strike Force about six years ago. As an undercover, plainclothes cop who worked day and night shifts, Schweizer was part of a surveillance team that watched drug buys and locked up hundreds of suspected drug dealers. He frequently testified in court as a witness for prosecutors. [Philadelphia Daily News]

Racial disparities abound in the war on drugs, but most analysis of the drug war’s disparate impact focuses on institutional bias. Rarely are we confronted with such a disturbing window into the racist mindset of an individual officer. Such beliefs render one thoroughly unqualified to carry out law-enforcement duties in any capacity and raise serious questions about this officer’s past actions.

More troubling, however, is the possibility that Schweizer is just the tip of the iceberg. Is he a cartoonist? Did he draw the thing himself, or is there a larger organization that produces and markets police-themed racist merchandise to a clientele of closeted white supremacist police officers? I don’t know the answer, but this poster sounds like a logo for something very creepy.

Of course, this is just one anecdotal incident, but when such revelations occur within an institution with such a hideously rich tradition of racial bias, it certainly doesn’t feel like a coincidence. It is an unflattering portrait of our criminal justice system that adherents to such ideology are able to assimilate within it. Indeed, had he merely possessed the wisdom to keep racist cartoons out if his locker, this officer would still be hard at work filling our prisons with young black and Hispanic drug offenders.

Posted in All-white SPD?, Educating the Chief, History of SPD Abuses, Independent Oversight, Racism, Spokane LE Personalities, Unanswered Questions | Leave a Comment »