IT IS A JUNGLE DOWN THERE, WHERE LEOPARDS CHANGE THEIR SPOTS!

I thought I would end 2015 with what will hopefully be my last story mentioning our infamous Rachael Dolezal…but no guarantees…if something else comes up.

For those that don’t remember Rachael Dolezal, Adrian Dominquez, and Kevin Berkompas all three members of the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission were investigated and subsequently removed or resigned from the OPOC when an investigation revealed misconduct. One of the misconduct allegations was that they were having secret meetings with Frank Straub. Of course Spokane hit the national laughing stock spotlight again over the issue which seems to be what we do here all too often.

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/rachel-dolezal-accused-misconduct-police-oversight-board-n377341

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/dolezal-and-other-police-oversight-committee-members-accused-of-misconduct/

 

As my readers know I have been a real critic of the OPO and the OPOC from day one. My criticism stems from the contract Mayor Condon and Frank Straub negotiated with the Police Guild which gives SPD, as well as the Mayor’s Administration, complete control of both. The only way out of the Contract will be when a new one is signed, and a City Council is in place to fight for a contract consistent with the City Charter.

 

Throughout the Document Dump I have received as a result of my recent PRR regarding Cotton/Straub I have found evidence that supports my position regarding the OPO and OPOC. Today’s story deals with just a very small portion of what I have but in my view is great material for a New Year’s Eve Story, especially for folks that have had a few.

 

NITTY GRITTY

 

On Wed. 6/24/15 at 10:34 AM, Adam McDaniel, Council President Stuckart’s aide, emails the appropriated people regarding the resignation of Adrian Dominquez and attaches a copy of Dominquez’s resignation letter. Interestingly McDaniel does not copy Frank Straub.

 

 https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/dd32e3e7-2ed3-4df1-b5e5-334d8825c40f

 

On Wed. 6/24/15 at 10:41 AM, Nancy Isserlis forwards a copy of McDaniel’s email to Frank Straub.

Isserslis to Straub 10 41

 

 

On Wed. 6/24/15 at 10:43 AM, Frank Straub responds “Thank you”

Straub thank you 1043

 

On Wed. 6/24/ 15 at 11:25 AM, Nancy Isserlis responds to Straub, stating “Leopards and spots come to mind”

 

L and S 1125

 

On Wed. 6/24/15 at 11:25 AM, Frank Straub quickly responds “For sure”

For sure

 

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions regarding these emails, aside from the lack of Professionalism, I’ve drawn my own conclusions but have the advantage of even more email interactions.

 

 

LYNDEN SMITHSON UPDATE!

 

I’ve made two attempts so far to obtain comments from both Mayor Condon and Nancy Isserlis to no avail. I wonder what the Vegas odds are of me ever getting one. Perhaps if other local reporters were to ask they would get a comment, or maybe not.

 

I have determined that the City Council was NOT informed why Lynden Smithson was placed on paid administrative leave, perhaps they will ask why.

I have found some very interesting relationships regarding Mr. Smithson, but I want to wait and see what info I get if from the PRR I submitted regarding his paid administrative leave before I do a story.

 

 

HAVE A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 

LYNDEN SMITHSON UPDATE

 

As an update regarding the questions surrounding the Lynden Smithson “paid administrative leave” you folks should know that I did email City Attorney Nancy Isserlis to provide her the opportunity to respond to my stories.

Update Smithson

I guess the question is whether or not the placing of a City Prosecutor on “paid administrative leave” is news worthy. The Spokesman Review who had exactly the same information I do apparently made the decision that it wasn’t news worthy since they didn’t do a story on it even though they consistantly run stories on City Emloyees who have been placed on administrative leave, and especially Cops. I did wait a while before writing my stories to see if they would do a story.

 

In my view, given all of the recent media regarding personnel decisions the Condon administration has made without question it is news worthy especially since Smithson prosecutes Domestic Violence cases and deals with Victims on a daily basis, but you will likely only read about it here, unless the Inlander decides to pick up on the story. Whether or not the decision made by Nancy Isserlis and Mayor Condon to place Smithson on paid administrative leave and subsequently allow him to return was a good one, regardless of why it was done, I feel is important as far as the overall picture is concerned.

 

The TRUTH is that Nancy Isserlis placed Smithson on paid andministrative leave the day after a “Johns” sting. The TRUTH is she imediately contacted Lt. Mark Griffiths, who ran the String, as well as his boss Frank Straub. The rest of the TRUTH I know will be a little harder to come by, but I’ll give it my best shot.

 

I do know from experience that “John” stings can end up having individuals involved that most people wouldn’t expect, and sometimes those individuals are treated differently depending upon who it is and the ethics of the people running the sting.

 

It isn’t uncommon for Prosecutors, or other individuals in the justice system who run a little afoul with the law to have their cases transferred to another jurisdiction, or for example have a case heard by a Special Settings Judge as was the case when Lynden Smithson kind of forgot some things recently. I’ll keep digging.

 

Insert 1

 

Insert 2

 

Insert 3

 

 

I REPORT YOU DECIDE!

 

 

WHOSE SIDE IS THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW REALLY ON?

 

Well it sure as hell isn’t on the side of their readers as this December 27th, 2015 Editorial makes perfectly clear. If they were on the side of the public and their readers, they would be reporting and editorializing on facts and the truth.

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/dec/27/release-of-shooting-footage-a-good-sign/

 

 

When I read this in the Editorial, I had a big laugh regarding this sentence; “The timing is unprecedented.”

 

“It was the transfer of the recommendations to Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell at the conclusion of the investigation that triggered release of the video and documents to the public. The timing is unprecedented.”

 

The statement by the Editorial Board is true to an extent, the timing and release of Public Records which includes body camera video is “UNPRECEDENTED”, but only in Spokane. The reason it is only unprecedented in Spokane is because every other media outlet in the State of Washington has taken advantage of the 2013 Washington State Supreme Court Case Decision in Sargent v. Seattle Police Department but the Spokesman Review since the Sargent Decision has done nothing to force the Spokane Police Department to turn over our Public Records once the case went to the prosecutor, and that is the only reason the timing for this case is “unprecedented”.

 

This was another laugher for me;

 

“Now, the department will release the results of investigations into officer-involved shootings as soon as those materials are handed to the prosecutor, at which time it will launch its internal investigation.”

 

When I read that and after watching Schwering’s press conference I laughed and thought Gosh how nice it is that SPD will now be following the law.

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Here is the Washington State Municipal Research and Services Center’s synopsis of the Sargent case, and I provided a links below the synopsis to the actual Decision.

 

 

 

2013 PRA CASES (MRSC)

 

Sargent v. Seattle Police Department, 179 Wn.2d 376 (2013) Sargent was arrested for the assault of an off-duty police officer. Since Sargent was jailed, materials were transmitted to the prosecuting attorney for an expedited review and charging. The prosecutor, however, declined to file charges and the case was returned to the police for further investigation. Later the file was submitted to the city attorney who also declined to file charges. Sargent requested the investigative files, including an internal investigation file. Sargent’s records request was denied by the city, which argued them exempt for effective law enforcement purposes. Sargent sued. Following earlier proceedings, the supreme court considered the issue and, in a 5 – 4 decision, mostly supported the release of the documents to Sargent. The court held that the effective law enforcement exemption ceases to apply categorically to investigative records once the case is first referred to a prosecutor for a charging decision. The court also held that the city violated the PRA by withholding records of an internal disciplinary investigation. Since the effective law enforcement exemption does not apply categorically to this type of material, the exemption might be applicable, but the city would need to demonstrate that disclosure would endanger a person’s life, physical safety, or property, or that a witness had requested nondisclosure.

 

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/9d5d4bf6-7851-4755-aa0a-77805ddeaa3d

 

With Clerk’s Notes:

http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-court-of-appeals/1580488.html

 

 

 

Some might wonder if the Spokesman Review as well as the SPD were somehow so inept that they were not aware of Sargent v. Seattle PD. The answer is simple…   “Hell yes they were aware!”

 

 

 

This Editorial appeared in the SR on December 22nd, 2013 after the Sargent Decision came down. In the 2013 Editorial the same three individuals Cowles, Caldwell, and Crooks try and stroke the current SR for a 2001 case brought by the old SR, so where have they been?

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/dec/22/editorial-washington-high-court-ruling-on-police-r/

 

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/feb/21/editorial-house-bill-1917-a-threat-to-oversight/

 

 

 

 

But it goes far beyond just the 2013 SR Editorial.

 

Over and over…including several emails to reporters regarding Sargent v Seattle Police Department.

 

Schwering

 

http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2015/may/07/man-shot-spokane-police-identified/

http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2014/apr/25/liberty-lake-officers-body-camera-captures/

http://m.spokesman.com/stories/2014/dec/31/police-body-camera-pilot-ends-review-and/

 

Now the question is, “Was the Spokane Police Department aware”? The answer…  “Hell yes they were aware!”

 

SPD was aware even prior to the Washington State AG’s Opinion answering my questions regarding Body Worn Cameras.

 

 

  1. What legal standards or rules of evidence establish the requirements for preservation of intercepted private conversations or video evidence making such evidence available in its original format for a citizen seeking damages under RCW 9.73.030?

 

Brief Answer: In order to use a recording as evidence in a criminal or civil case, the recording would be subject to the same laws and rules governing all evidence, including the requirement that the chain of custody be established to prove no tampering has occurred. Record retention schedules would also govern how long a recording must be kept. Recordings and records about the recordings would be subject to discovery, as well as the Public Records Act and its exemptions. In establishing body camera systems, agencies should therefore give significant thought to how to categorize and store recordings.

More:

With regard to disclosure, recordings and records about recordings from police cameras are subject to both the Public Records Act and discovery. See generally Fisher Broadcasting­ Seattle LLC v. City of Seattle, 180 Wn.2d 515, 326 P.3d 688 (2014). In establishing body camera systems, agencies should therefore give significant thought to how to categorize and store recordings. Restrictions on public disclosure of investigative records would apply to the extent that a recording meets the requirements of that statute. See RCW 42.56.240. Moreover, the Public Records Act permits public agencies to give notice to a person that a requested record pertains to, so that he or she can seek an injunction prohibiting disclosure. RCW 42.56.540. As explained below, however, specific restrictions on disclosure of video from vehicle-mounted cameras would not apply to body-mounted cameras absent a change in the Privacy Act.

 

The reason I formulated question (4) the way I did was in anticipation that the AG would separate Body Camera Video from Dash Cam Video in the next question (5) which he did. The Dash Cam Exception allows law enforcement to withhold Dash Cam Video “until final disposition of any criminal or civil litigation” if the civil or criminal case is legit and not a ploy not to disclose it. So I wanted to make sure the Body Camera Video was subject to the regular conditions of the Public Records Act which makes them public once the case goes to the Prosecutor and the private citizen as well as the media are entitled to them.

 

Here is the kicker Mary Muramatsu the legal advisor for SPD new damn good and well that once the criminal investigation was complete and it went to the prosecutor the video had to be released. I’m sure she read the Sargent case and knew as well as I did exactly what it meant.

 

This is what Muramatsu wrote in her comments to the AG way back when the AG was researching the answers to my questions. Notice she uses the term “may be released” which is accurate to the extent that the strict standards established by the WA State Supreme Court for the effective law enforcement exemption must be met. In other words, it is pretty darn hard to make a case for exemption. 

__________________________________

At what point can the video be released?

Once a criminal investigation is complete, the body camera video may be released. Non-exempt portions of an IA investigation must be released to the media as public records.

__________________________________

 

 

https://files.acrobat.com/a/preview/6e5cd441-52b4-4eef-b9ce-3561adcf0a7b 

 

 

 

 

This is the completely laughable video of SPD’s press release regarding the Body Camera Video release. Notice Tim Schwering admits in the press release that SPD has continually violated the Public Records Act up until this release. The reason they have been able to get away with it is because no individual or media outlet has pushed it, perhaps the fear is someone now will push it.

 

If you think about it…what a great time with all the adverse publicity to come out and now say…we are going to play fair from now on…okay if you say so Tim.

 

https://my.spokanecity.org/news/stories/2015/12/24/footage-from-officer-worn-body-camera-released/

 

Has anyone noticed the SR Editorials no longer allow readers’ comments? I wonder why?

 

 

I REPORT YOU DECIDE!

WHERE IS HE NOW?

I got a tip from a source who travels in the same circles as Frank Straub that I thought I would share with my readers.

What has Frank been doing while we continue to pay him? It is no surprise that he has hit the speaking engagement circuit, something he did all the time he was the Chief of Police here in Spokane on our dime, and has continues to do so.

 

While we have been battling the cold weather and snow Frank has opted for warmer climates.

 

Here is video of a speaking engagement Straub had with the Inter-American Development Bank a few days ago, where he continues the Dog and Pony Show he has perfected during his short stays all over the Country.

 

I wonder if the Mayor approved this one?

 

https://vimeo.com/149922238

 

https://vimeo.com/149923655

 

ENJOY…AFTER ALL HE WAS STILL DRAWING A SALARY ON US!

 

 

 

STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER ARTICLE LATER TODAY