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FRP Responses To Sheriff Comments

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5-20-2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

Freedom Restoration Project Responds To Statements By Sheriff Knezovich Regarding Shooting Of Pastor Creach And Unmarked Car Legislation

Contact:                 Kevin Schmadeka                 206 235-8174    frp-wa@mindspring.com

Puyallup, WA:  Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich has made numerous statements in the media regarding the death of Pastor Wayne Scott Creach, the conduct of Deputy Brian Hirzel in that incident, and the resulting legislation regarding unmarked cars that merit a response.  Following are some quotes from the Sheriff, and the FRP responses.

  1. “As soon as Scott knew (Hirzel) was a deputy, the car became irrelevant.”  That is the furthest thing from the truth.  Pastor Creach needed to know he was approaching a police car from a distance, before he was seen approaching while holding a weapon.  That was the moment the situation began to needlessly escalate, and it was brought about by the illegal use of an unmarked car.

 

  1. “It’s the same patrol car that you see come down the street that makes you hit your brakes. It has a Mohawk of antennas, it has a push bar it has a spotlight on the side, a cage in the back and a computer screen up front,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said.  RCW 46.08.065 Section 1 requires a city or county police car to have clearly visible lettering or a logo on the side of the car.  Even in the dark, Pastor Creach would have had a far better chance of spotting that with his flashlight before getting too close.  None of the things that the Sheriff cites constitutes a marked vehicle, and none of them are unique to police cars.  Antennas, push bars, and spotlights are all common features.  Even if a computer was visible, people use open-wifi in their cars all the time.  If the sheriff is really so certain of the legality of using these cars for non-undercover purposes, he should request an official opinion from Steve Tucker.  The silence of Tucker’s office on this issue has been deafening, and it’s not like he hasn’t had time to examine the law.

 

  1. Knezovich thinks, even at night, Creach should have recognized Hirzel’s Ford Crown Victoria as a patrol car…  Police do not have a monopoly on Crown Victorias.  Former police cars are sold to the public, where they are popular among police wannabees, not to mention police impersonators.  In point of fact, a black Crown Victoria with a spotlight was driven by one Christopher Monfort. 

 

  1. He added that deputies spend at least two hours per shift preparing reports and do the paperwork in the field where they can write and spot crime at the same time.  That’s all perfectly fine, so long as they get permission to trespass and use a marked car.

 

  1. …an obviously frustrated Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Wednesday that he has done everything he can think of to add transparency to the investigation of the fatal shooting.  There is nothing transparent about seeking Citizen Review Board findings without informing the Creach family that such a review was taking place, or involving them in any way.  The involvement of the Creach family in that review was purposely avoided because their evidence, testimony, and views on the legalities involved might have complicated the conclusion that the board and the Sheriff’s department wanted to arrive at.  This being the case, their findings cannot be considered legitimate.

 

The Sheriff has also made the following statements through his spokesman Dave Reagan.

  1. The death of Pastor Creach was indeed a tragedy. It was not a tragedy, it was a crime.

 

  1. However, the fact of the matter is that if Mr. Creach had only obeyed the lawful order of Deputy Hirzel, the tragedy would not have occurred. Deputy Hirzel was the lawbreaker that night, and as such there was nothing lawful about his orders.  He operated an unmarked vehicle in violation of RCW 46.08.065.  He trespassed on private property that was marked “closed” to the public in his unidentified vehicle, and parked in a suspicious place and manner that warranted the alarm of the property owner.  He had received no invitation, and no emergency existed that warranted his presence.  His orders for Pastor Creach to disarm and prostrate himself on the ground were insulting and without authority.  Creach had never threatened Hirzel, had put his weapon away, and had identified himself as the property owner by stating he’d had theft problems there before.  He was entirely within his rights every step of the way and had no obligation to follow such orders.  The fact is that if Hirzel had followed the law in any one of these three areas, Pastor Creach would be alive.  It took a perfect storm of disregard for the law to bring about his death.

 

  1. The fact that he was in a plain-marked patrol car is a smoke screen that blurs the truth of the matter. The term “plain-marked” is the only smoke screen here.  It’s a fictitious term that doesn’t exist in law and appears to have been invented in Spokane County.  It is intended to make it sound as if the car was, in some intangible way, actually marked. 

 

  1. Pastor Creach did not obey lawful orders, and instead reached for his pistol.  Pastor Creach was assaulted without justification on his own property by a man wielding weapons in both hands, and he had every right to attempt to protect his life, if that’s what he was doing.  Alternately, Hirzel had ordered Creach to lay down the weapon, and it’s entirely possible that’s exactly what he was trying to do.  It’s even the more likely scenario considering the gun was unchambered and Creach knew he would have no chance of firing in time to save himself.  Hirzel has stated that he didn’t know why he felt sure Creach was going to shoot him, only that he did.  This statement screams that his supposed “fears” were not reasonable.  Hirzel also makes no mention of attempting to order Creach to keep his hand away from the weapon before firing. “Fear” alone does not justify killing someone.  The supposed “fear” must have a factual basis, and it must not come about as a result of one’s own illegal actions.

 

  1. The community would be better served by a thoughtful, intelligent review of the facts by Legislators Shea and Crouse.  The community would be better served by law enforcement officials that exhibited a willingness to learn from mistakes and change their policies to comply with the law, but they have steadfastly refused to consider any change whatsoever.  They have elected instead to usurp the authority of the legislature in these matters and decide for themselves what the law should be.  They should therefore not be surprised when legislators and the public decide to correct these problems without their help.

In conclusion, there is an unofficial but strictly enforced policy amongst police officers that any person who does not fully respect and comply with law enforcement will have the weight of the law dropped on them.  They will be intimidated, threatened, and put through a public humiliation spectacle, the purpose of which is to keep the public too afraid to question their omnipotence.  It is the opinion of this lobbyist that this is the policy that Brian Hirzel was enforcing when he needlessly escalated his demands and use of force against Pastor Creach. 

For further information, please visit http://frpwa.com  

Also please visit the blog site of the Creach family at https://spokanepolicereforms.wordpress.com

The Freedom Restoration Project is a Puyallup based lobbying group with a primary focus on issues of self-protection rights.

Written by spokanepolicereforms

May 18, 2011 at 1:35 am

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