This IA Case (C17-003) as far as the discipline of Officer O’Brien is concerned primarily boils down to two issues; First, did O’Brien lose his temper and unnecessarily reach out and grab a handcuffed, on his knees, controlled by two other officers, African American suspect who by anyone’s standard was not, and history shows, is not the epidemy of virtue.
I am offering portions of Body Camera Video from the incident at the STA Plaza so you can decide for yourself whether or not O’Brien should have been “Exonerated”.
My personal opinion is that exonerating O’Brien went a little too far and, IMO there should have been a finding of “Not Sustained”.
HERE IS THE IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THIS CASE!
Originally IA Sgt. Dan Waters wanted the case handled as an “Inquiry”, meaning the case would never have been investigated.
Waters obviously focused his attention, only on the False Arrest aspect of the case involving Officer Prim and apparently, and hopefully, did not review all of the Body Camera Video associated with the case. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to have to view ALL the video, but if I can do it anyone can.
What happened next is exactly what should have happened, the OPO reviewed ALL of the Body Camera Video and brought O’Brien’s questionable conduct to the attention of Director Jacqui MacConnell.
The still images below show the grab to the throat area, and in my opinion, appear to show that O’Brien did not attempt any kind of front choke. Benson’s own statements are consistent with that opinion. The question is, was it even necessary after a heated exchange to even make any kind of a grab under the circumstances. I think not, there wasn’t much Benson could have done handcuffed from his knees with Prim and Roy in control of him.
This link will take you to the BC Video, and what the OPO was concerned about, and you can draw your own conclusions.
Needless to say, there was some discussion amongst the SPD Brass regarding what the finding in this case would end up being, and at least at some point it appears that Captain Singley had a discussion with Major King about changing part of the findings from “Not Sustained” (Which IMO would have been appropriate) to “Exonerated” and “Unfounded”.
MIRRORING, VERBAL DEFENSE???
Repeating the last word or phrase the person said to show you’re listening and engaged. Yes, it’s that simple — just repeat the last word or two: For example, a subject may declare, “I’m sick and tired of being pushed around,” to which the negotiator can respond, “Feel pushed, huh?”
- Mirror words selectively. Repeat the last one to three words your counterpart just said back to them. This is one of the quickest ways to establish a rapport and make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves. The beauty in this is the simplicity. People love this. Use it with what I like to call the “late night FM DJ voice” and upward inflecting (sounds like a question). Tactics like this will slow the conversation down for you and allow you more time to think.
Come on Lt. Stevens, yes, most people haven’t been through a Hostage Negotiations class, but some have. This was not a Hostage Negotiations situation, was not mirroring, and was contrary to CIT Training.
To put things in perspective regarding battling the City and SPD for Public Records, it is important to keep in mind that I submitted my PRR regarding the O’Brien case back on March 21st, 2017. SPD was aware I knew about it long before I submitted the PRR. The actual incident took place on January 6th, 2017. I received the final response to my PRR yesterday (August 18th, 2017).
Even getting the complete IA report was a challenge.
JUST POST THE DAMN IA CASES ON THE WEBSITE PROPERLY REDACTED IN THEIR ENTIRETY AND SAVE THE TAXPAYERS, AND ME SOME MONEY AS WELL AS SAVING LAURIE FARNSWORTH A LOT OF TIME…I WILL ALWAYS FIND OUT ANYWAY!!!
I’m not going to go into any detail but the links below will take you to the incomplete IA casefile I originally, and the completed IA Casefile I received yesterday. You might want to take note of the dates and compare them.
THIS IS WHY YOU HAVE TO LOOK AT ALL OF THE BC VIDEO!!!
There will be obstructions and other problems that won’t show everything so you have to look at it ALL!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE!!!
1) The OPO did their oversight job and forced an investigation.
2) Hopefully this was a learning experience for Officer O’Brien and others including the Rookie. Word is O’Brien is a good cop.
3) The definition of law enforcement transparency is different in Spokane for some.
4) The OPO needs some type of voice other than “I have reviewed the completed investigation and determined that the investigation was completed through a timely, thorough, and objective process.”.
5) The OPO Ordinance stinks.
6) Mitch Ryals is correct, I am a “gadfly” and will continue to be a pain until SPD gets their act together.
I REPORT YOU DECIDE!!!
Another good Inlander story by Mitch Ryals today, which fits right in on what I’m working on.
Of course, Joe Walker was one of the catalysts for bringing the Cotton/Straub affair to light with his “Whistleblower” complaint, from which he suffered some “pushback and dissension “so it only makes sense that he understands just how bad SPD is with transparency.
As far as the OPO being Pissed Off is concerned that becomes clear in this email exchange between OPO Logue and myself during my research for a story on the “Great Leak Investigation” so I thought I would go ahead and write about it today while I’m waiting for the rest of my PRR response concerning the leak investigation, as is ordinarily the case completion of the leak PRR response has been pushed back.
I gotta wonder why OPO Logue is sticking around with SPD’s efforts to intimidate him, and OPOC Chair Deb Conklin, who doesn’t like Logue making every effort to get rid of him, as evidenced in the video of the last OPOC meeting.
If you believe this statement in the Inlander article I have a bunch of bridges I’m willing to sell you.
“Right now our level of transparency is limited by staffing,” Meidl said. The department has lost at least two clerical employees since former Chief Frank Straub left the department in 2015, he added.”
Try and put aside the snarky stuff in the emails imaged below and consider that had the conversation between two former Marines take place face to face exact quotes would not be printable.
My Initial email to OPO Logue:
OPO Logue email response:
Everyone gets PO when someone questions their veracity… as for me I’m used to it. You can decide for yourself who is telling the truth in this case, but you also should keep in mind that under the OPO Ordinance even if the OPO or an Independent investigation uncovers any wrongdoing on the part of an IA Investigator, nothing can be done.
The next time you hear Mayor Condon say that the OPO Ordinance is “A National Model For Police Oversight!” or a Council Member saying “It Was The Best We Could Get!”, perhaps you will laugh right along with me?
I REPORT HSS YOU DECIDE!!!
Mitch Ryals the Inlander Journalist and Gadfly did a great job of covering the “McMurtrey Intimidation Leak Investigation Case” in the story linked below.
To be perfectly clear my description Ryals as a “Gadfly” refers to the fact that he is one of the very few Mainstream Media Reporters who covers the goings on in local law enforcement, providing reader stimulation while at the annoyance of local law enforcement, I was not referring to him as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly. 😊
Definition of gadfly
- 1 : any of various flies (such as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock
- 2 : a person who stimulates or annoys other people especially by persistent criticism a political gadfly
I… as you might suspect… will be doing a story of my own since I was the “Gadfly” that caused all the commotion, however as is quite usual with the Condon Administration I’m still waiting for response to my Public Records Request regarding the “Investigation”.
Let’s be clear the investigation started long before McMurtrey made his IA complaint. Keep in mind the Mayor’s mouth piece Brian Coddington reviews all of my PRRs the minute they hit the City Clerk’s Office.
There are a lot of negatives associated with this intimidation attempt some of which were pointed out by the OPO Assistant Luvimae Omana.
“For Omana, who is Logue’s assistant, another big takeaway is the department’s focus on rooting out an internal leaker, rather than how to deal with misconduct identified through body camera footage. When the department originally investigated McMurtrey, the lack of an official body camera policy precluded administrators from handing down any formal discipline.”
Although Ms. Omana is dead on about the leak focus, IMO the Guild Control of all things Body Camera was a non-factor in the McMurtrey case as there was an independent witness (ASU Researcher) who was never even interviewed, and McMurtrey confessed on two occasions regarding his “atrocious” conduct.
Another negative is the way this was handled by one-time finalist for the OPO position Jacqui MacConnell a former Police Officer whom I spoke highly of when she was a Candidate for the OPO position. MacConnell replaced Tim Schwering as the Director of Strategic Initiatives, as I expressed at the time she was appointed as DSI my hope was she wouldn’t drink the Cool-Aide. MacConnell has disappointed me and we will see how she takes Gadfly Criticism.
This is an interesting quote from Assistant Chief Justin Lundgren:
“Not every police document is a public record,” Assistant Chief Justin Lundgren says via email. “Those documents that are public record have a specific process that much be followed to ensure the record is released in accordance with Washington State law.
“The investigation centered around the manner in which the record was released.”
Lundgren must have forgotten the tape-recorded interview I along with Mitch Ryals, and Rachel Alexander from the SR had with him and Meidl, and the series of stories I did regarding that interview. Somewhat surprising since SPD has been mining my blog… maybe the just missed it.
On a positive note two of McMurtrey’s supervisors, like others, recognized the distinct possibility that use of force history, two OIS cases, and patrol conduct there was a strong likely McMurtrey was a “Cowboy” which in law enforcement vernacular means an overly aggressive cop who could be dangerous. The problem for the cops that recognized the behavior, was that no-one above them was willing to deal with it and instead tried to hide it.
Lots more coming on this!
I GADFLY YOU DECIDE!!! 🙂