Chief Kirkpatrick Offers Condolences to Creach Family; Updates - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Chief Kirkpatrick Offers Condolences to Creach Family; Updates Investigation

(Pastor Wayne Creach) (Pastor Wayne Creach)

SPOKANE, Wash.- Spokane police say a 74-year-old pastor was reaching for a handgun in the waistband of his pants when he was shot by a sheriffs deputy last month. Police, and the Creach family, had been calling it a tragic misunderstanding but now the Creach family says differently: they're calling it murder.

Pastor Wayne Creach was killed as he approached an unmarked police car in the parking lot of his Spokane Valley business after dark.

Police Lt. Dave McGovern said Tuesday that Deputy Brian Hirzel warned Creach several times to drop the handgun he was holding, and that Creach instead put it in the waistband. Hirzel ordered Creach to get on the ground, and struck him in the knee with a baton when
Creach didn't respond.

McGovern said the deputy then saw Creach drawing his gun out of his waistband and fired. An autopsy on Wayne Scott Creach did not show any evidence of that alleged baton hit that Deputy Hirzel claims. WSP lab technicians are going over both the pants W. Scott Creach was wearing the night of the shooting, and the baton that Deputy Hirzel had with him. They're looking for any fiber of clothing on the baton that would match W. Scott Creach's pants. The results of that test should be back on Monday.
      
      
OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

Earlier in the day on August 25, 2010 a citizen living in the area of 14200 East Fourth Avenue requested police checks throughout the night. For the second time that evening, Spokane County Sheriff's Office Deputy Brian Hirzel responded to this call for service. At 11 p.m. he parked his unmarked patrol car in the gravel lot in front of the Plant Farm.

In Deputy Hirzel's statement to detectives, he explained why he parked his car the way he did. He stated he backed into the lot to obtain a visual perspective of Fourth Avenue while remaining close to the initial call for service.

Deputy Hirzel described the incident as follows: He was sitting in his patrol car with the parking lights on and the window rolled down. He was completing some paperwork on his computer when he saw a flash of light from his left. He looked and saw Mr. Creach with a gun in his right hand. While still in his patrol car, Deputy Hirzel drew his gun and pointed it at Mr. Creach identifying himself a as police officer, ordering Creach to drop the gun several times. Mr. Creach refused to comply and continued walking towards the deputy, at one point Mr. Creach mentioned he had had things stolen in the past. When Mr. Creach got within 2-1/2 to 3 feet of the deputy's driver's door, the deputy continued to order him to back away from the car and drop his gun. Creach backed up and put the handgun behind his back, tucked in his waistband. The deputy was able to get out of his car at which point Mr. Creach refused his commands to get on the ground. The deputy struck Creach in the knee with his baton causing Creach to buckle but not fall. Mr. Creach then reached for his gun at which point the deputy fired a single shot striking Creach in the chest. Creach died at the scene.

Law enforcement personnel from SCSO, SVPD, WSP, and SPD responded to Deputy Hirzel's call for assistance. Ultimately, this is a sheriff's office incident and their decision to invoke protocol. By doing so, the Sheriff has entrusted SPD and WSP with the investigation. The investigative team responded and received a brief statement from Deputy Hirzel (tactical debrief). Deputy Hirzel was scheduled to go on vacation the following day but offered to give his voluntary statement the following Friday, September 3. A decision was made by the team to respect the deputy's right to remain silent and his request to go on vacation. During this time, investigators were diligently compiling the evidence and looking into all elements of the incident.

Investigators are working as expeditiously as possible without compromising the investigation, and hope to have it completed by the end of the week. Once it is finished, the case file will be given to the Prosecutor's Office to determine if there is criminal misconduct or a justifiable homicide. With every critical event that occurs, the FBI is contacted. The Special Agent in charge of the Spokane office is aware of the progress of the investigation and does not have any concerns.

Investigators have been in touch with members of the Creach family on a regular basis. Family members have been kept informed without jeopardizing the case and have been given access to investigators' cell phone numbers.

The next stage of the investigation will include compiling background information on Creach as well as Deputy Hirzel, comparing physical evidence with witness statements and forensic testing. The case will be submitted to the Prosecutor's Office by September 13 at the earliest.

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