Spokane Valley Investigation Into Scott Creach Shooting - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Investigation Into Deadly Shooting Of Spokane Valley Pastor Complete

Press Release From The Spokane County Sheriff's Office: Inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the August 25th fatal shooting of Spokane Valley resident Scott Creach have been completed by both the sheriff's Citizen Advisory Board and Deadly Force Review Board, and both panels echoed the Spokane County Prosecutor's decision that Officer Brian Hirzel was reasonable and justified in his use of force.

On that date, Officer Hirzel parked his plain-marked patrol car in the parking lot of The Plant Farm, a nursery owned by Creach, in order to complete paperwork and to watch a nearby residence where a person had requested a prowl check.

Creach apparently spotted the car in the parking lot.  Armed with a pistol which was his custom, he approached Hirzel who was unable to exit his car in time to take cover.  Hirzel drew his pistol, identified himself as a police officer and ordered Creach to drop his gun.

Mr. Creach was argumentative, but eventually put his pistol in the waistband of his pants.  He backed up several steps and Hirzel was able to exit his patrol car while telling him to keep his hands visible. 

Hirzel ordered Creach to the ground in order to restrain and disarm him, but Creach refused.  The officer struck him once on the leg with his baton in an attempt to gain compliance, but Creach did not fall and instead reached for the pistol.

 When Hirzel saw the butt of the pistol as Creach was drawing it, he fired a single shot which struck Creach in the chest.   He later died from his injury.

In his review of the incident, Chief Criminal Deputy Jack Driscoll noted that Officer Hirzel was in full uniform in an unmarked police car equipped with push bars, a spotlight, numerous antennas and a full compliment of police equipment inside.  He was in a place he was legally entitled to be, and the fact that the patrol car was not marked is of no consequence to the use of force issue.

"There is no indication that Hirzel acted with malice toward Mr. Creach.  They had no prior history and did not know each other.  This appears to be a tragic situation where an officer, because he felt he was about to be shot, felt no other recourse but to use deadly force after Mr. Creach repeatedly failed to comply with the officer's commands."

Driscoll wrote that Deputy Hirzel was justified in his use of force and that under these facts, Deputy Hirzel cannot be held criminally liable for his use of force.

Subsequent to the prosecutor's decision, the incident was reviewed internally by the sheriff's Deadly Force Review Board which is composed of subject matter experts within the agency.  The intent is to determine if the deputy acted within reasonable parameters of law and training. 

The board reviewed the investigative file as well as Prosecutor Driscoll's decision, and on February 11th advised Sheriff Knezovich that it was unanimously decided that Deputy Brian Hirzel's use of force in this incident was reasonable based on policies of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

A second review on the incident and the investigation itself was conducted by the Spokane County Sheriff's Citizen Advisory Board.  The board is comprised of 12 citizens and it reviews some case files in order to determine if the investigation was handled in an appropriate manner.

The board reviewed the investigative files for two weeks and then returned with specific questions and concerns. On March 14th the board met directly with investigators and subject matter experts from the both the sheriff's office and Spokane Police Department.  This briefing was monitored by SPD Ombudsman Tim Burns.

The membership reported to Sheriff Knezovich that (the experts/investigators') presentations were "invaluable to understanding of the files, timeline and scene of the incident.  The questions and concerns of the Advisory Board were answered completely and with transparency."

A letter to the sheriff dated April 11th stated "We, the Citizens Advisory Board, unanimously found that the investigation was handled in an appropriate, professional and thorough manner.  During our review, we found the investigation was a well organized and coordinated effort among multi-agencies."

"We felt that though this was a tragic incident, Sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel acted in a reasonable manner based on our review of the case files.  We appreciate the sheriff's Office for their full support in our review, transparency of the investigation and production of the documentation they presented to the Advisory Board.

 A final internal review of the investigation is underway, based on concerns and issues the Creach family have expressed to the sheriff.  The inquiry is expected to be complete by the end of May.  --  rdr

The following letter is from the Citizens Advisory Board.

Sheriff Knezovich,
On February 14, 2011, Undersheriff Jeff Tower presented The Citizens Advisory Board with the investigation files for the officer involved shooting at the Plant Farm in the City of the Spokane Valley. As members of the Sheriff's Department Citizen's Advisory Board we were reviewing the case files in order to determine if the investigation was handled in an appropriate manner.

In the two weeks following, we reviewed the files and came up with specific questions and concerns regarding the investigation. On March 2, 2011, we met again and collaborated on the questions and requested Investigators and Subject Matter Experts from the Sheriff's department to meet with us. They were to address questions and clarify items not understood in the investigation.

On March 14, 2011, we met directly with the Investigators and Subject Matter Experts. They spent a great deal of time going over our questions and concerns. Their presentations were invaluable to the understanding of the files, timeline and scene of the incident. The questions and concerns of the Advisory Board were answered completely and with transparency.
We, the Citizens Advisory Board, unanimously found that the investigation was handled in an appropriate, professional and thorough manner. During our review we found the investigation was a well organized and coordinated effort among multi-agencies.

We felt that though this was a tragic incident, Sheriff's Deputy Brian Hirzel acted in a reasonable manner based on our review of the case files. We appreciate the Sheriff's department for their full support in our review, transparency of the investigation and production of the documentation they presented to the Advisory Board.

Sincerely,
The Citizens Advisory Board:
Chuck G. Parker, Chairmen
Leigh O'Neill
Marie Palachuk
Mike Davisson
John F. Bergman Jr.
Kenneth L. Winn
Mehrdad Samadi
Larry Marlett
Kelly Crockett
Mary M. Lewis
John P. Nollette
Skip Johnson

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