Posts Tagged ‘news reporter’

News brief: Driver injured in collision with building

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

One person was hurt when car ran into building. / Courtesy photo by Ken Brown

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

A 73-year-old Onalaska woman is in satisfactory condition this morning after crashing her car into a building along state Route 508 just east of Interstate 5 yesterday afternoon.

Troopers and aid were called about 4 p.m. to the scene where the four-door sedan was covered with bricks and its single occupant trapped inside, according to responders.

Firefighters had to stabilize the car and remove part of its top to get her out, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.

Marian B. Burton had been traveling eastbound when her Buick Lucerne left the roadway, according to the Washington State Patrol. It happened about three miles east of Interstate 5.

She was airlifted to to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. Her vehicle was described as totaled and was impounded.

Burton was to be cited for wheels off the roadway, according to the state patrol.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Updated at 2:17 p.m.


• Deputies responding about 5:20 a.m. yesterday to a Shell gas station on the 100 block of Mulford Road west of Toledo found two baseball-sized holes in the glass front door and reviewed security video that showed a male wearing a puffy jacket with fur on its collar trying to break it. He smacked the door twice with a blunt object but being made from the same material as a car windshield, it wouldn’t break, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The images from earlier show two males arrived in a vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office. The loss from the damage to the Toledo woman who owns Cowlitz Food and Fuel is estimated at $500, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Centralia police responded about 7:30 a.m. today to a call from the power company regarding a stolen meter discovered on a residence on the 200 block of Tilley Avenue where the electricity had been previously shut off. Police are investigating.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning a 50-year-old Glenoma woman returned home to the 100 block of Cedar Lane about 3 p.m. on Sunday to discover her Android tablet and 32 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol were gone. A deputy was given possible suspect information, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports the 73-year-old owner of a vacation cabin near Ashford discovered four windows were broken and someone made off with coats, jackets and other items including a metal folding table. It happened on milepost 4 of Skate Creek Road North sometime in the three weeks before Saturday, according to the sheriff’s office.


• The owner of a vacation home on the 100 block of VanHoesen Road in Onalaska called 911 on Sunday after finding someone broke through the front door and stole food, two drills and a DVD player. The victim, a 56-year-old man from Milwaukie, Ore., estimated the loss at $300, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A 59-year-old Onalaska man reported on Saturday someone stole his Kymco 300 ATV from the 200 block of Burchette Road sometime during the previous few days while he was gone fishing. The value is $1,800, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A set of rosary beads found in the 400 block of Northwest Front Street in Chehalis were turned into the police department yesterday afternoon. Detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said if someone can describe them, they can get them back.


• A red Chevrolet Tahoe that failed to pull over when a Chehalis police officer attempted to make a traffic stop about 3:30 p.m. yesterday in the Twin City Town Center was discovered later parked in Chehalis without any occupants. Police briefly chased the SUV but terminated the pursuit when it headed into downtown, according to the Chehalis Police Department. Officers have a possible suspect, according to police.


• A 58-year-old Yakima man on a motorcycle traveled approximately 100 feet down a steep embankment off Skate Creek Road South near Packwood on Saturday afternoon after hitting a rough patch on the road and losing control. He suffered head and chest pain and was being tended to by aid when deputies arrived about 2:30 p.m. to the area near milepost 14, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Witnesses traveling behind him said they observed no erratic driving so no enforcement action was taken, according to the sheriff’s office. His 2000 Harley Davidson was described as totaled.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported today the 23-year-old Centralia woman whose car became wedged  beneath the trailer of a parked 18-wheeler on Sunday at the 600 block of Reynolds Avenue in Centralia said she had been sick and fell asleep, causing her to leave the roadway, hit a deep ditch and become airborne. The driver sustained a possible broken eye socket and possible concussion, according to the sheriff’s office. She was cited for wheels off the road and driving with a suspended license, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• Lewis County Crime Stoppers and Chehalis police are hoping someone recognizes a security video image of a heavyset balding man who walked into Wal-Mart about 1 a.m. on May 9 and broke into a jewelry case with some kind of tool and stole 17 assorted rings. He exited the store and drove away in a dark colored two-door car, according to Crime Stoppers. The loss is reported as $4,224. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for information leading to the clearance of crimes. Anonymous calls can be made to 1-800-748-6422 or information may be shared online at


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, obstructing, resisting arrest, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license; responses for alarm, dispute, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, collisions on city streets, vicious cat, dogs left alone inside vehicles … and more.

Police are looking for tips as to the identity of this man suspected of breaking into a jewelry case at Wal-Mart in Chehalis early in the morning on May 9.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Updated at 10:02 p.m.


• Firefighters were called to a boating accident in the Cowlitz River in Toledo yesterday evening when a lightweight inflatable raft hit something in the water and popped. There were several people that went in the water and two girls ages 11 and 8 were plucked out, according to Lewis County Fire District 2. Fire Chief Grant Wiltbank said he understood they put their craft in upstream from the bridge over state Route 505 and one man helped one of the girls near the bridge and another man caught the second girl as she floated downstream. It could have been a deadly incident if not for the life jackets the children were wearing, according to Wiltbank. Below the surface of the river, the currents can run in all different directions, and bends in rivers often hold downed trees, the branches of which act as a strainer and can rip rafts up, he said. “Even though on the surface it looks like it’s moving slow at times, it’s extremely powerful underneath,” he said. One man who had been in the water was really cold and needed to get warmed up so he was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Lewis County Medic One.


• A 25-year-old Morton resident was arrested for unlawful imprisonment after an incident on Friday that went on for about three hours at the 600 block of state Route 7 outside Morton. Deputies called about 7 p.m. after his 18-year-old girlfriend finally got away were told he didn’t want her to leave, called her names, threw things, stepped in front of her and threatened to cut his own throat, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said Jonathan J. Kaye began cutting on himself and when the young woman finally ran to her car and fled, he chased her down state Route 508. Kaye was subsequently located and booked into the Lewis County Jail, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A 23-year-old Winlock man was arrested after he reportedly barged into a home and assaulted his ex-girlfriend and his longtime friend on Friday morning at the 100 block of Allman Road in Winlock. Sean M. Riley allegedly threw a television to the floor and stomped on it and slashed tires on the two victim’s vehicles before leaving, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies called about 9:30 a.m. learned the young woman got a next door neighbor to break up the fight, according to the sheriff’s office. Riley was subsequently located and booked into the Lewis County Jail for fourth-degree assault, malicious mischief and burglary, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reported this morning someone made off with a vintage watch, broach and pocket watch, a handgun and numerous other valuables totaling about $4,000 from a home on the 100 block of Blanchard Road in Centralia last Wednesday. The resident called 911 about  3 p.m. when she returned home and found her belonging thrown around, according to the sheriff’s office. A dog track was conducted and it appeared someone left on an ATV, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• An Onalaska woman turned her back on her shopping cart as she loaded up her vehicle outside Wal-Mart and someone walking by took her purse, according to the Chehalis Police Department. An officer responding about 5 p.m. on Saturday learned from surveillance video it was a white male in his 20s driving a green four-door passenger car with a small spoiler, according to police.


• Morton police were contacted on Thursday by a resident who discovered someone had stolen checks from her purse, forged her name and cashed them in the amount of about $260. The case is still under investigation, according to the Morton Police Department.


• A 51-year-old homeless man was arrested yesterday morning for trespassing after he was found sleeping in the bushes, with empty beer cans, at a convalescent home in Centralia. Keith A. Smith is from Centralia and has been told by the owners and police he may not go to Cooks Hill Manor, except to visit his girlfriend, according to the Centralia Police Department. An officer called just before 11 a.m. to the location on the 2000 block of Cooks Hill Road booked Smith into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.


• First responders were called about 10:40 p.m. yesterday by law enforcement to an area near milepost 63 and Interstate 5 near Winlock and Toledo for an individual with multiple dog bites. The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office said it sent its K-9 to  conduct a track to assist troopers following a hit and run incident, in connection with a 29-year-old Longview man. Further details were not readily available. The patient was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Lewis County Fire District 5.


• Two small dogs died from smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in a fifth-wheel trailer being used as a home in the Doty-Dryad area on Saturday morning. Lewis County Fire District 16 Chief Greg Feuchter said no one was home at the time and there was smoke damage throughout with heavy fire damage to the front of the trailer.


• Firefighters were called about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday when a large load of hay bales on a flatbed trailer caught fire while being pulled down U.S. Highway 12 just east of Mary’s Corner near Larmon Road. Nobody was hurt; the man, woman and children pulled over after noticing the trailer was on fire, according to Lewis County Fire District 5. Firefighter Brad Bozarth said one lane of the highway was closed for about 20 minutes and the other for roughly three hours while crews doused the smoldering pile of hay. He estimated there were about 200 bales. The bed of the Ford F250 pickup burned, but not the cab, he said.


• A motorcycle rider from Sequim was injured yesterday when he slowed for freeway traffic yesterday in Chehalis and had to lay his bike down to avoid slamming into the back of a car. Troopers and aid called about 1:15 p.m. to the northbound lanes near Labree Road found Eric T. Thomas separated from his his bike and then slid as much as 30 feet on the roadway, according to responders. “He was wearing protective gear so that saved a lot of road rash,” Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Ted McCarty said. Thomas, 50, had a hurt shoulder and facial laceration, according to McCarty. He was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical center in Seattle, primarily because they couldn’t be sure if he had internal injuries, according to McCarty. He was to be issued a citation for speed too fast for conditions, according to Washington State Patrol. His 1998 Honda GL 1500 was damaged, according to the state patrol.

• A woman escaped with small cuts from broken glass when she wrecked her car on the 600 block of Reynolds Avenue in Centralia yesterday afternoon, coming to rest wedged partially beneath the trailer of a parked 18-wheeler. She had left the roadway and hit a culvert, according to Riverside Fire Authority. “She was able to back out and was standing outside when we got there,” Fire Capt. Erik Olson said.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants,  trespass, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, providing false statement, failure to transfer vehicle title; responses for alarms, disputes, possible fraud, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, violation of protection order, dogs or children left alone inside vehicles in parking lots, noisy kids on playground after 10 p.m. … and more.

No charges for Salkum man who shot neighbor

Monday, July 28th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer announced today he will not file any criminal charges in connection with the fatal shooting of 28-year-old Travis Shive by a neighbor in Salkum in May.

“While the loss of life is tragic under any circumstances, it appears that Mr. Ritter acted in self defense,” Meyer stated in a formal news release today.

Ritter is Jack L. Ritter, 56, who told deputies he felt threatened because Shive had been on his front porch ranting, accusing him of shooting his dog and refused to leave.

Shive was unarmed, but Meyer said witnesses indicated Shive was the aggressor in the situation.

It happened the evening of May 10 on the 200 block of Stowell Road, about a half block from the Salkum Super market.

Shive had gotten a phone call telling him his dog had been shot by someone in the white house and arrived on his ATV to Ritter’s front yard, according to Meyer. He was at the wrong house, according to Meyer.

Ritter came out of the back of his house armed with .380 semi-automatic handgun, telling Shive to get off his property, he didn’t shoot his dog and Shive was about to go, but then went at Ritter, according to authorities.

Shive died from a gunshot wound that entered his abdomen and traveled into his chest. He was also shot in the left shoulder.

Ritter was afraid for his safety, Meyer said.

In the decline letter Meyer wrote to Lewis County Sheriff’s Office detective Kevin Engelbertson, Meyer wrote that the facts in the matter do not support criminal charges against Ritter.

At trial Ritter would claim self defense and the state would not be able to rebut the claim based on the available evidence, Meyer wrote.

Meyer said in cases where it’s a close call, that’s when he concludes a jury should decide.

He contrasted it with the Ronald Brady case of 2010 when Brady was charged with first-degree murder for shooting an unarmed suspected burglar outside a house he owned in Onalaska. Brady was convicted by a jury of a lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison.

“The victim in that case was running away when shot,” Meyer said. “In this case, the victim was engaged in a struggle for a gun.”

The law is clear that a person can act in defense of themselves or others, Meyer said.

“But whether those actions are reasonable are going to be analyzed and scrutinized,” he said.

He said these kinds of cases are very fact specific.

“There isn’t a clear cut, this-is-the-line rule,” Meyer said. “Sometimes it’s going to turn on minute facts.”

More to come


For background, read “Investigation continues into deadly Salkum dispute” from Wednesday  May 14, 2014, here

Port Orchard boy’s body being recovered from Ohanapecosh River

Monday, July 28th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

Kayakers navigating the Ohanapecosh River in East Lewis County yesterday afternoon located the teen who fell in earlier this month and recovery efforts are underway today.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office says they began at about 10:30 a.m. today, with deputies and members of Packwood Search and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue.

The 17-year-old from Port Orchard was last seen on July 4 being swept down the extremely swift and cold river after he slipped while taking photographs with friends.

The body is in a difficult spot to reach; it took teams two hours to get to it as the terrain is very steep, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown stated in a news release.

Searchers have been hopeful over the past three and half weeks the water levels would drop so the boy would be found, Brown said.

The sheriff’s office has not named him, but The Kitsap Sun identified him as Josh Osborn.

As of about 1:30 p.m. today, teams were still working on removing the boys’ body from the canyon, according to Brown.

The area is near the Cedar Grove Campground off state Route 123 just south of the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, according to the sheriff’s office.

The same day Osborn drowned, an 18-year-old Tacoma resident,  Rashawn J. Hale-Moody, drowned in Alder Lake, at the intersection of Lewis, Thurston and Pierce counties.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 27th, 2014


• Centralia police took a report yesterday afternoon from the 500 block of West Roanoke Street regarding an infant child possibly assaulted by its parent. Further details were not readily available, but police say the case remains under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• Centralia police took a report on Friday afternoon from the 300 block of North Tower Avenue from a female who said she was assaulted by her former boss. The situation is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 38-year-old Centralia man looking for his runaway daughter was arrested last night after he allegedly let himself into a home on the 200 block of Tilley Avenue in Centralia and confronted the residents there. Officers called about 9:35 p.m. were told Aaron K. Shelton demanded to know where the girl was, threatened to hurt the individuals if they stood in his way of finding her and refused to leave, according to the Centralia Police Department. Shelton was booked into the into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to police.


• Centralia police called just before midnight about a possible burglary at a vacant building on the 600 block of North Tower Avenue ended up arresting a 26-year-old man from Kelso when he was found with numerous unspecified items he admitted taking, according to the Centralia Police Department. Daniel J. Phillips was booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police took a report about 10 a.m. on Friday regarding a stolen red 1998 Volkswagen Jetta from the 100 block of South Tower Avenue. The car was taken sometime between 2:45 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., according to the Centralia Police Department. It has a license plate of AOJ 1739, according to police.


• Centralia police took a report about 2:15 a.m. today of a window getting broken on a vehicle at the 300 block of West Plum Street.


• A man who recently finished his prison term for a sex offense agreed to be locked up at the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island instead of going through a trial in Lewis County Superior Court. The civil trial for Jerry Mullins began and ended on the same day a week ago Friday, according to the state Attorney General’s Office. Prosecutors from the attorney general’s sexually violent predator unit were fighting to prevent Mullins’ release to the community, originally scheduled for June, according to a spokesperson for the office. Mullins, now 40 years old, was convicted about 25 years ago of of rape of a child in the first degree and statutory rape in the first degree. In 2008, he was convicted of an additional sex offense involving a child, according to spokesperson Alison Dempsey-Hall. He had been temporarily confined at the center, according to Dempsey-Hall. In a news release this past week, Dempsey-Hall said that on July 18, Mullins agreed to a stipulated order acknowledging he met the definition of a sexually violent predator. Since 1990, in Washington state, individuals can be locked back up – after serving their criminal sentence – indefinitely under the involuntary civil commitment law.


• A motorcycle rider was hospitalized yesterday afternoon following a collision with a vehicle at North Pearl Avenue and Sixth Street in Centralia. Police called just after 3 p.m. report he was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital where he was treated and has been released.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, obstruction, driving under the influence, driving with suspended license, misdemeanor theft,  misdemeanor assault, reckless driving; responses for violation of protection order, collisions on city streets … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Friday, July 25th, 2014


• Chehalis Fire Department Chief Rob Gebhart is giving credit to a man’s co-workers for helping save his life yesterday. Firefighters called about 4:45 p.m. to an office on the 1500 block of North National Avenue found them doing CPR on an individual Gebhart guessed was in his 60s. They took over, then medics performed further treatment and the patient had his own pulse by the time he was loaded up in an ambulance, Gebhart said. Initiating CPR right away is critical in such cases, he said. “If there’s CPR going on when we get there, we know we have a pretty good chance,” he said. The man was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital.


• A police pursuit that began at Denny’s restaurant in Chehalis ended when the vehicle the wanted subject was driving crashed into a guard rail a few miles south at exit 71 of Interstate 5 yesterday. Keith J. Rose, 37, from Chehalis, fled on foot but was caught in a field about 200 yards away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It began around 12:30 p.m. when deputies got information Rose was waiting for his girlfriend outside the Law and Justice Center in Chehalis and was subsequently found at the eatery at exit 76, according to the sheriff’s office. When confronted, Rose sped out of the parking lot, with deputies behind him, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. He was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with what he said severe pain to his chest and back and will be booked into the Lewis County Jail upon his release, Brown said. He was wanted for outstanding felony and misdemeanor warrants, she said.


• A 33-year-old woman being escorted with her child by an officer from a residence where she was no longer wanted allegedly struck the officer and was arrested for third-degree assault last night. Police were called about 11:30 p.m. to the 400 block of North Oak Street and ended up booking Misty C. Crossland into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.


• Chehalis police called about 10:40 p.m. yesterday about an argument between a man and a woman at the 600 block of West Main Street ended up jailing them both. An arriving officer saw 21-year-old Kevin Hinzpeter of Centralia drop a backpack and a pair of brass knuckles, according to the Chehalis Police Department. He was arrested for possession of a dangerous weapon, department spokesperson Linda Bailey said. Cimmarron Bale-Fooks, 19, from Olympia, was arrested for being in violation of a no contact order regarding Hinzpeter, Bailey said. Because she initially gave the officer false names, she was also booked for that, Bailey said.


• Centralia police took a report this morning of two windows broken out of a vehicle parked at a home on the 3200 block of Russell Road. Officers have no suspect information, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• The Lewis County Coroner’s Office is seeking the public’s help in finding the owner of a box containing cremated remains which was discovered earlier this month at the dump. The box made of dark wood was found on July 10 at the Centralia Transfer Station, according to Coroner Warren McLeod. It is secured with a screw on the bottom, but there are no markings, names or tags with it, he said. McLeod said he assumes it may have been discarded by someone who did not know what was inside and that a family would want them back. Anyone with information can call 360-740-1376.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, stolen bicycle, collision on city street, suspicious circumstances  … and more.

2014.0716.cremated.remainsbox.14-374 001 copy

Wood box found at Centralia garbage transfer station on July 10, 2014.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Updated at 1:07 p.m.


• A 47-year-old homeless man was jailed last night for disorderly conduct after he allegedly threatened to beat up a man in a wheelchair. Officers called about 8:30 p.m. to the parking lot at Country Cousin on the 1000 block of Harrison Avenue were told by Wesley A. Lamp he was upset because the 38-year-old man piloting the power wheel chair ran into him and knocked him to the ground, according to the Centralia Police Department. Witnesses didn’t see that, but they did see Lamp standing over the man and grabbing at the orange flag on the back of the chair, and hear him say he would rip the man’s head off his shoulders, Officer John Panco said. The 38-year-old said he was not assaulted, but did have to push the subject away, Panco said. Lamp was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to police.


• A 21-year-old Chehalis woman was arrested yesterday at the Department of Corrections office in Chehalis as when she was being taken back into custody, she reportedly punched a DOC officer in the face. Police called about 11:45 a.m. to the office at the Lewis County Mall arrested Nicole J.J. Duff for third-degree assault, according to the Chehalis Police Department. They were told she slipped and was injured, so she was taken to Providence Centralia Hospital to be medically cleared before being booked into the Lewis County Jail, detective Sgt. Gary Wilson said.


• Centralia police took a report about 6 o’clock this morning regarding a vehicle prowl at the 900 block of Marion Street.

• The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office reports this morning on two vehicle prowls in the same neighborhood in which only about $200 worth of items were stolen. But, after the overnight thefts in the 200 block of Alderbrook Drive, outside Chehalis, here’s what’s missing: house key, mailbox key, two remote garage door openers and two remote gate openers, as well as reading glasses and a flashlight, according to the sheriff’s office. It happened sometime after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and before 7 a.m. on Wednesday.


• A 29-year-old Centralia woman told police she lost control of the back end of her 1995 Chevrolet Camaro as she took a corner at the 700 block of South Gold Street last night. There was lots of broken glass but no damage to the utility pole, according to the Centralia Police Department.

• A 76-year-old driver hospitalized after a single-vehicle wreck yesterday on U.S. Highway 12 in Salkum has been treated and released. Troopers called about 12:45 p.m. to the area near milepost 76 found the eastbound Ford Ranger pickup ran into the ditch, and the rolled coming to rest upside down. The truck was totaled, according to the Washington State Patrol. Lynn W. Warnstadt was injured and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to the state patrol. The investigating trooper reports an unspecified medical issue caused the wreck.

• A 16-year-old boy was transported to Morton General Hospital after his bicycle was struck by a Lincoln Towncar as he crossed U.S. Highway 12 at Mossyrock earlier today. Troopers and firefighters called about 10:40 a.m. found the bicycle was southbound onto Williams Street and the sedan driven by a 74-year-old Randle man was westbound. Lewis County Fire District 3 Chief Doug Fosburg said others had already moved the teen to the side of the road when he arrived. The injuries are very minor, Fosburg said. “He was almost across and it hit the back tire on the left side,” he said. “It was more of a clip.” The damage to the car and to the bike was little enough the state patrol described it as non reportable. Domonic M. Holmes, a Mossyrock resident, failed to stop at the red light before crossing the highway, according to the Washington State Patrol.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances, report of small child left alone in vehicle that turned out to be unfounded  … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


• A 34-year-old man was arrested this morning after he allegedly suggested he might stab a clerk who asked him to leave the Texaco station on the 1000 block of Belmont Avenue in Centralia. Officers called about 6 a.m. learned the clerk wanted Terry L. Bryan to get off the premises because he was bothering customers, according to the Centralia Police Department. When the clerk approached him, Bryan reportedly reached toward his pocket and asked, “Do you want to get stabbed?” Officer John Panco said. Bryan walked away but was subsequently located and booked into the Lewis County Jail for second-degree assault, according to Panco. He had a pocket knife with him, he said.


• A 24-year-old Centralia woman working at Wal-Mart called 911 about 4:25 a.m. when she discovered her car was no longer in the parking lot. An officer responding to the 1600 block of Northwest Louisiana Avenue learned she had last seen it a about 2 a.m., according to the Chehalis Police Department. The stolen blue 1997 Dodge Neon may have been stopped by a trooper in the Olympia area about 3:30 a.m., but police are still waiting to learn more about the traffic stop, detective Sgt. Gary WIlson said.


• A deputy was called yesterday to the 100 block of Martin Road in Glenoma where a Stihl MS311 chainsaw had been stolen from a shed.It disappeared sometime since last Thursday,  according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The item has a serial number of 283428601, according to the sheriff’s office.


• Centralia police were contacted yesterday morning by a 46-year-old Kelso man who discovered someone used his stolen credit card at two locations in town, according to the Centralia Police Department. A charge of $150 was made in one case and in another, the transaction was rejected, according to police.


• Police were called about 12:30 p.m. yesterday regarding a vehicle prowl on Northwest Pennsylvania Avenue in Chehalis.


• A 23-year-old Centralia man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine yesterday following an ongoing investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department. Alfredo Mendoza Martinez was booked into the Lewis County Jail, according to Officer John Panco.


• Firefighters were called about 10:20 p.m. yesterday to property on the 1400 block of Airport Road Northwest where a pile of grass was smoldering. They hosed it down, according to the Chehalis Fire Department. Fire Capt. Kevin Curfman said it had heated up and ignited on its own the way compost would.


• Police and firefighters were called yesterday at noon to the intersection of Rock Street and Centralia College Boulevard when a man on a bicycle was struck by a sport utility vehicle. He was treated at the scene and then released by aid personnel, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, shoplifting, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence; responses for alarms, disputes, collisions on city streets, suspicious circumstances; complaint of cars speeding up and down neighborhood street … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014


• A 40-year-old Winlock man was arrested overnight after he allegedly kicked in a back door where his estranged wife lives in Ethel overnight and punched her in the face knocking her to the ground and attacked her male companion as well. Deputies called about 2:45 a.m. to the 1200 block of U.S. Highway 12 learned of the incident and found the 50-year-old Centralia man ended up with a goose egg and a bruised eye, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. The suspect, Kayne M. Garrison, was found by a trooper in Winlock, according to the sheriff’s office. Garrison was booked into the Lewis County Jail for burglary, harassment and other offenses, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A Kawasaki 250 motorcycle stolen earlier this month in Mossyrock was discovered, along with some marijuana starts at a campsite off a logging road on property belonging to Port Blakeley Tree Farms yesterday. Deputies traveled up Forest Service Road 3030 and found a trailer and the other items after being alerted the day before by security personnel of the property owner, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. While they were there, a van pulled up and one person ran off but 39-year-old Shirlene M. Thrall was arrested, because a purse sitting on a step contained several bindles of a substance that field tested positive for methamphetamine, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said. Her companion, Joe P. Padrick, 33, called deputies later and said he planned to make things right with the owner of the motorbike and would be turning himself in, Brown said. Thrall was booked into the Lewis County Jail. Both are from Mossyrock, according to Brown.


• Chehalis police were called last night by a Kelso man who discovered his stolen credit card appeared to have been used at Wal-Mart in Chehalis. Police will try to track it down, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• A go-kart was reported stolen yesterday from the 1000 block of Mellen Street in Centralia.

• Centralia police were called about 6:20 p.m. yesterday to the 500 block of West Fourth Street about a chainsaw missing from a garage. A person of interest has been identified, according to the centralia Police Department.

• Someone called Centralia police yesterday to say their jacket and cell phone were stolen on Saturday night from a tavern on the 100 block of South Tower Avenue in Centralia.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, protection order violation, misdemeanor theft; responses for alarms, disputes, stolen bicycle, stolen credit card, collision on city streets, suspicious circumstances, minor injury accident on gravel road, small bark fire, female screaming at little children, dog left inside parked vehicle … and more.

Centralia officer cleared in deadly bank parking lot shooting

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news

CHEHALIS – The man fatally shot by Centralia Police Department Officer Ruben Ramirez last month was a convicted felon carrying a stolen handgun, only recently arriving to the Centralia area with his girlfriend.

Paul M. Edmundson, 43, was staying at the Pepper Tree Motel and RV Park, using an alias. He had an extensive criminal history over 23 years from multiple states and was in the process of covering up a tattoo on his lower chest of Edmundson, one letter at a time.

But he didn’t steal the burrito that drew a police officer to the encounter at the corner of South Tower Avenue and East Cherry Street the morning of June 29.


Anchor Bank parking lot, June 29, 2014

Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer concluded last week that Ramirez’s use of deadly force was justified. Police Chief Bob Berg is expecting a decision from an internal use-of-force review board by early next week at the latest. And Ramirez could be back on the job after that.

The Centralia Police Department’s initial statements that day were the officer shot and killed a man suspected of shoplifting the snack from the nearby gas station, because he reached into his pocket for a handgun as he was being detained.

Meyer’s summary of events offer a slightly different version.

A letter released by Meyer describing his legal analysis to the lead investigator in the case includes 13 pages of information, some which is pertinent to Ramirez’s decision to draw and fire his weapon, and some of which is relevant only to explain the decedent’s actions. Numerous individuals who witnessed portions of the situation described to investigators what they saw.

Including Ramirez, a 15-year veteran of the police department, a member of its SWAT team and a K-9 handler.

The investigative team of detectives from surrounding police agencies – from the counties of Lewis, Thurston, Pacific, Mason and Grays Harbor – was headed up by Thurston County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ben Elkins.

Michelle Milligan, 44, from Vancouver, told investigators she and Edmundson, although she called him Chris, had been dating about three months and came to Centralia about a month earlier.

Of his behavior in previous days, she said: “(H)e was going crazy on everybody; he was just going on a nut.”

That morning, Milligan described going to Fuller’s grocery to purchase vodka and a roast beef sandwich. And then up to the next block to the Chevron service station and mini mart to get burritos and rolling papers.

Milligan and the clerk told how she didn’t have enough money to pay for both, so she left the burritos in the microwave.

Meyer’s summary of facts discovered, some of which was learned through viewing surveillance video, tells how Milligan exited the store and crossed the parking lot to speak with two men, one of whom then came inside and took the burritos from the microwave and left, returning once again to heat them up and left again.

His name is Adam Casperson, according to Meyer.


Chevron service station, South Tower Avenue

The 911 call about shoplifting came just before 10 a.m. and when Ramirez arrived in his patrol car, with his police dog Lobo, he found Milligan and Edmundson sitting in the grass across Cherry Street next to the parking lot at Anchor Bank.

Ramirez told an investigator he began to speak with them and wanted to see their identification because based on his information, they were involved in the theft.

Edmundson was mouthy, Milligan denied stealing the burritos and told Ramirez the one he wanted was hiding in the woods, according to the letter.

But when Ramirez looked at the identification Edmundson handed him, he recognized the name on it of Christopher R. Matthews as the suspect in an assault two days prior at the Pepper Tree.

Ramirez had responded to the Friday afternoon call to the motel where a 50-year-old guest there said that during a disagreement an acquaintance he knew as Chris threw him to the ground and struck him in the eyelid with something sharp.

Ramirez indicated to investigators the man in the ID did not match the man he was talking to at the bank very well, and decided to detain him to determine the connection, according to Meyer.

Ramirez asked Edmundson to stand up.

A customer across the street at a different gas station said he watched the man stand up and turn his back to the officer as if preparing to be handcuffed. Ramirez said the man began to resist by pulling away.

Milligan said the cop was being really, really rough and “Chris” was saying “Ouch, you’re hurting me.”

Milligan said at about that time, the police dog jumped out and started attacking “Chris”. “And the dog’s attacking his arm, and dog’s attacking his leg, and the dog’s attacking him all over viciously,” he said.

Ramirez said because he was dealing with a felony suspect, who disengaged, he deployed his K-9 and ordered him to “engage” Edmundson.

“And Chris is screaming, you know, and I’m screaming, I’m like, you know, I’m like, he’s trying, he’s hurt, can you just tr-, call the dog off him …,” Milligan told investigators.

Milligan said she ran out to the road, screaming for someone to help.

Ramirez called for backup and thought it unusual Edmundson continued to fight through the bites, even as Ramirez ordered him to stop.

Witnesses described seeing the two men and the dog engaged on the ground.

A former Centralia police officer Steve Dawes was at the bank’s ATM with his girlfriend and said he saw the two men on the ground tussling while the dog was biting and the man was resisting and ignoring Ramirez’s commands. Dawes said he had turned his attention back to finish his ATM transaction and heard a gunshot.

Ramirez told investigators that when they were on the ground, Edmundson had his hand underneath his body and he heard scraping sounds. He thought it could be a knife, given the assault from the Pepper Tree, he said.

Ramirez said he looked and saw it was the butt of a gun and Edmundson was pulling it out from what appeared to be his waistband.

Ramirez backed up, told him drop it. Ramirez heard a click sound.

Ramirez fired a single shot from his weapon.

Edmundson died at the scene. A single round penetrated his heart and lodged in his spine.

Meyer’s analysis includes that when making a decision to use deadly force, an officer must have probable cause to believe that the person “poses a threat of serious physical harm to the officer.”

The elected prosecutor points out Ramirez made two requests for assistance, that Edmundson ignored repeated commands and gained possession of a firearm, which became, at that moment, a fight for life for Officer Ramirez.

“Officer Ramirez was left with no choice but to draw his weapon and protect his own life,” Meyer wrote.

The firearm recovered was described as a Sig Sauer P938 9mm, stolen out of Longview. It was found in the “cocked” position with a round in the chamber, according to Meyer.

How many dog bites Edmundson sustained was not mentioned in Meyer’s report.

An individual named Michael Caton was interviewed, and told investigators he saw Casperson, Milligan and Edmundson at the Chevron, and that Edmundson had flashed a gun at him and it was not the first occasion.

Caton told investigators  Edmundson was dangerous because he was drunk all the time and had a gun.

Prosecutor Meyer who attended the autopsy noted the smell alcohol emanated from the body.

Meyer wrote that Edmundson was originally identified as Christopher Matthews, but fingerprint analysis revealed who he really was.  Edmundson’s previous convictions included assault, robbery, burglary and firearm offenses from Utah and California. Just a month before he was killed, he was arrested in Oregon for driving under the influence.

Meyer called the outcome tragic, but wrote had Edmundson survived, among the crimes he would have charged him with related to the events the morning of June 29 were attempted second-degree murder, or in the alternative, second-degree assault.

For background, read:

• Prosecutor Meyer’s letter detailing his investigative conclusions, here

• “Stolen burrito leads to fatal shooting in Centralia” from Sunday June 29, 2014, here

• “Coroner releases name of police shooting victim” from Wednesday July 2, 2014, here

• “Centralia police shooting case now in the hands of prosecutor for review” from Monday July 14, 2014, here

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Updated at 6:41 p.m.


• Firefighters were called about 12:30 p.m. yesterday when fire broke out at a bark dust mill at the end of Central Boulevard in Centralia. Riverside Fire Authority Capt. Tim Adolphsen said it was inside the auger system of the Willamette Valley Company’s structure and was fairly mild in terms of how long crews were on scene extinguishing it. “It should be minimal damage,” Adolphsen said.


• Someone broke into a home on the 1800 block of Middle Fork Road in Onalaska and stole a 55-television, jewelry and other valuables totaling about $4,100 sometime between Friday and yesterday while the residents were away, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.


• A 53-year-old Chehalis man called police about 11 a.m. yesterday to report someone got into his garage in the early morning hours and stole a new $1,000 Mathews compound bow and an $800 set of four Toyo tires. It happened at the 1800 block of Snively Avenue, according to the Chehalis Police Department.


• Morton police say they are investigating a break-in to a business on the 100 block of Westlake Avenue reported last Thursday in which someone during the previous two days stole a digital camera from the lost and found and about $68 in cash, which was mostly coins.


• A driver of unknown age and unknown hometown was arrested for third-degree possession of stolen property when during a traffic stop a deputy discovered the license plates on his vehicle were stolen, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office. It happened about 6 p.m. on Friday at the 700 block of Leonard Road and when Joseph A. Vezirian was pulled over, he told the deputy he knew they didn’t belong on the vehicle but someone named Jen had given them to him, according to the sheriff’s office. The plates belonged to an Onalaska woman; Vezirian was cited and then released, Chief Civil Deputy Stacy Brown said.


• A 27-year-old Winlock man was arrested on Saturday after his wife’s boyfriend reported he had held her against her will at her home. Police contacted the couple separately who said earlier in the day he had put his hands on her shoulders and told her she couldn’t leave until they talked, according to charging documents. Robert M. Sutton told the officer they are going through a divorce, had a little argument and he was frustrated. Sutton was booked into the Lewis County Jail and charged today with unlawful imprisonment and fourth-degree assault. Sutton, who has an honorable service record and last worked as a contractor in Afghanistan, is collecting unemployment benefits and attending college, defense attorney Bob Schroeter told a judge this afternoon. The judge agreed he could be released on a $5,000 signature bond.


• A 35-year-old Chehalis man was arrested and jailed after his wife said he arrived at her house on Friday afternoon, yelled at her and threatened to kill her. A deputy called to the 100 block of Johnson Place about 2:45 p.m. learned there was a court order prohibiting Bert A. Holmes from going there and he was located several hours later and arrested for residential burglary, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.  Holmes was charged today in Lewis County Superior Court with that, as well as with felony harassment and violation of a no-contact order. Because the construction worker has a misdemeanor assault from earlier this month pending in district court involving the same victim, prosecutors asked he remain held on $25,000 bail. Judge James Lawler set bail at $100,000.


• The man arrested over the weekend after allegedly partially entering a Centralia home through a window and assaulting a female inside was ordered held today on $500,000 bail. Juan E. Mejia, 32, of Centralia, was dating the woman briefly he’d known for several years; she ended the relationship and he didn’t want the relationship to end, according to charging documents. The documents say after he kept calling, texting and showing up to see her, she got a temporary protection order a week ago. The documents allege that on Friday night, she awoke to knocking on her bedroom window on George Anthony Lane, and when she got up, Mejia slid the window open. She screamed for her son to get her father and struck Mejia and he struck her back, splitting open her lip, according to charging documents. “He said he loved her, that he would kill her, and that he loved her,” charging documents state. He fled when her father arrived with a pool cue and he was arrested the following day, according to authorities. Mejia has been restrained by 13 prior no-contact orders and has five prior domestic violence felonies, Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke told a judge when she asked for the high bail. Mejia is charged with first-degree burglary and violation of a court order.


• Morton police were called after last weekend to Gust Backstrom Park by campers who said after they went to bed, someone got into their cooler and stole $50 worth of unspecified contents. And yesterday morning, another individual reported while they were away from the park, their three coolers full of food and beverages were taken.


• Lewis County Fire District 2 Chief Grant Wiltbank said Toledo area firefighters were called just after 4:30 p.m. yesterday when a parachuter collided with a tree as she landed about a half mile west of the airport. The woman in her 20s came to rest in a sitting position about eight inches off the  ground, suspended by her parachute which was tangled in the tree, Wiltbank said. She wasn’t knocked unconscious, but suffered injuries that were serious but not life threatening, he said. She was flown by AirLift Northwest to a regional trauma center, according to the chief.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, driving with suspended license; responses for alarms, disputes, misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor theft, suspicious circumstances, report about scam phone call, rear end collisions on city streets, rollover accident on county road, dogs left inside parked vehicles … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Sunday, July 20th, 2014


• A 38-year-old Centralia man was arrested yesterday evening after allegedly throwing a full can of soda into traffic on Harrison Avenue near View Street and refusing to cooperate with police regarding the infraction. Willard Scott was cited and then released about 7:30 p.m., according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 32-year-old man wanted for allegedly entering a Centralia home through a window and assaulting a female inside late Friday night was located yesterday and booked into the Lewis County Jail. Juan E. Mejia was arrested for  first-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A judge disregarded a prosecutor’s recommendation an 18-year-old Chehalis resident should get 24 months in prison for stealing thousands of dollars from relatives and sent him away for five years. Dillan G. Gleason was arrested on April 10 after a burglary at his grandparents home 100 block of Alderwood Drive where he also reportedly lived. He pleaded guilty pursuant to an agreement and when he was sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court, the judge heard from his grandmother she believed there was close to $300,000 cash from her lottery winnings in a safe that went missing. Another relative who said Gleason stole thousands of dollars worth of alcohol told the judge he could not believe it when Gleason was the one arrested, but concluded since, that it was only the first time he’d gotten caught. Defense attorney Chris Baum conceded his client made grave errors in judgement and there were large amounts of money involved over the time period, but noted Gleason had not been in trouble before and asked he be sentenced as a first-time offender to zero to 90 days in jail. Baum said Gleason has a drinking problem. “He didn’t drink it all up, but he drank and he gambled some of it away,” Baum said. “We talked and he doesn’t remember; he’s a young guy who needs help.” Baum said his client had already signed back over $57,000 from a trust. Judge Richard Brosey on Friday responded by saying it was not a typical burglary and theft, it was a major economic crime. Because Gleason had pleaded guilty to the aggravating factor of a violation of trust, Brosey could have given him 10 years, but he gave him five.

• A pre-trial hearing for a 31-year-old man accused of continuing to head up a Lewis County-based drug trafficking organization primarily of Oxycodone from behind prison walls ended with the prosecutor dropping one of the two counts of leading organized crime and several gross misdemeanors. Forrest E. Amos, formerly of Napavine and Chehalis, was charged with 43 offenses after he was released from prison late last year. Defense attorney Don Blair and Lewis County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead went before a judge on Friday to deal with various issues before the Aug. 25 trial. Blair argued the state should have to split the case into two cases and hold two trials, one for Amos’s alleged activities before he went to prison and a second for his supposed activities while locked up. Judge Richard Brosey disagreed with Blair’s reasoning, but Halstead said he was filing a new “information” with just 36 counts instead of 43. He didn’t say why. Amos was additionally charged last month with four counts of intimidating a witness for allegedly hatching a plan from inside jail to get supporters to hurt or intimidate witnesses against him. Prosecutors allege he used the guise of legal mail to “continue his criminal intentions without detection”. Amos remains held in the Lewis County Jail on $1 million bail.


• Firefighters were called about 12:35 p.m. yesterday to extinguish a grass fire along Interstate 5 near the northbound onramp at Harrison Avenue in Centralia. it grew to about 100 feet by 200 feet, according to Riverside Fire Authority.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for warrants, misdemeanor assault, driving under the influence; responses for collision on city street, window broken out of a vehicle, clothing stolen from business … and more.

Sharyn’s Sirens: Daily police and fire roundup

Saturday, July 19th, 2014


• Members of six fire departments were joined by crews with the state Department of Natural Resources yesterday when a four to six acre fire broke out in Bucoda. Crews were called around 4 p.m. to an area near Tono and Ohop roads, on timber property owned by Green Diamond Resources previously clearcut and then about two years ago replanted with seedlings, according to Bucoda Fire Department Assistant Chief Robert Gordon. It was not threatening any homes, Gordon said. As many as 75 firefighters were on the scene and it was contained when he left about 8 p.m., Gordon said. “The winds were five to seven miles per hour, and that’s probably what saved the fire from getting any bigger than it did,” he said. DNR planned to sit on the fire overnight and are conducting mop up today, according to Gordon. The incident followed another the day before in Rochester when about an acre and a half of scotch broom and brush caught fire, along with a fence and a shed at the 9000 block of 173rd Avenue Southwest. Gordon said his chief and about eight other individuals with the fire departments from Tenino to Gibson Valley are currently in Eastern Washington assisting with the large wildfires over there.


• Centralia police say they are looking for Juan E. Mejia after an incident just before midnight in which he allegedly entered a residence through a window and assaulted the female inside. It happened at the 400 block of George Anthony Lane, according top police. Mejia, of Centralia, is 32 years old and wanted for first-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A 30-year-old Centralia man is being sought by police after breaking into a home on the 300 block of East Magnolia Street in Centralia and assaulting his mother. Officers responding about 5:45 p.m. yesterday say Isaiah M. Davis is wanted for first-degree burglary, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Police were called about 6:40 p.m. yesterday after a resident on the 1100 block of Ham Hill Road in Centralia returned home and found someone had broken in. Several items are missing and the case is under investigation, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Medication was reported stolen yesterday from the 900 block of North Tower Avenue in Centralia and from the 1100 block of West Chestnut Street.


• Someone stole a Pioneer stereo from an unlocked vehicle parked at the 1200 block of Royal Avenue in Centralia during the night, according to a report made to police yesterday morning.


• Centralia police responded just before 10 a.m. yesterday to the 1400 block of Oxford Avenue where several vehicles got their windows shot out with a pellet gun during the night.


• Four people were arrested yesterday after they reportedly harassed a male as he walked down a Centralia street with his small children yesterday evening. Officers responding about 6:45 p.m. to the area of East Locust and South Buckner streets say the male was approached and asked for a cigarette, then threatened when they did not like the way in which they were told no. According to Centralia police, Dustin J. Scott, 31 of Bay City, was booked for obstructing as well as a felony warrant and Richard A. James, 20 of Centralia, was booked for several outstanding warrants. After police left, two others allegedly went back to the individual and began threatening him again, so, booked for disorderly conduct were Jalab L. Browing, 20 of Centralia and Tyler A. Reeves, 21 of Raymond, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• Centralia police responded about 2:55 p.m. yesterday to the area near East Maple Street and the train tracks after a driver attempted to cross the tracks as the crossing arm was coming down. It broke the windshield and the driver was cited for failing to yield to the arm, according to the Centralia Police Department.


• A pickup truck and a car were totaled and the driver of the car was hospitalized when the pickup truck traveled into the oncoming lane yesterday evening on state Route 508 about three miles from Interstate 5. Brittney N. Dickinson, 18, from Winlock, was westbound when she drifted to the right, over corrected and crossed the centerline running into a 1993 Toyota Camry, according to the Washington State Patrol. Troopers called about 7:25 p.m. found the pickup on its side and cited Dickinson for improper lane travel, according to the state patrol. The car’s driver, Bruce A. Hood, 63, of Onalaska, was transported to Providence Centralia Hospital with unspecified injuries, according to the investigating trooper.


• And as usual, other incidents such as arrest for driving under the influence; responses for bicycle stolen, collision on city street … and more.

Sheriff’s Office: Fired corrections officer allowed inmates to suffer

Friday, July 18th, 2014

By Sharyn  L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – The lawyer for the fired Lewis County Jail sergeant shot back yesterday, issuing a press release criticizing Sheriff Steve Mansfield for attempting to try the case in the news media, reminding news reporters of Mansfield’s personal experience of being investigated for alleged criminal conduct.

Centralia attorney Shane O’Rourke said he represents Trevor S. Smith, who was terminated at the end of last month for mistreatment of two inmates and then arrested earlier this week for allegedly accessing secure jail computer records while he was still on the job.

“As a career corrections officer, my client respects the court system and the judicial process, and because of that we are not going to make any comments about the facts of the disciplinary proceedings or criminal case against my client other than to say that there are always more facts to a story than what only one side offers,” O’Rourke wrote. “We will allow those facts to come out through the legal process.”

Mansfield revealed on Wednesday that Smith was let go because he abused his authority in dealing with assaultive inmates, insinuating Smith moved beyond containing the situations and into punishing the individuals.

The sheriff called Smith’s actions disgusting and embarrassing, but didn’t go into much detail, citing a concern of jeopardizing a termination hearing.

However, a fulfilled public record request for the June 27 termination letter and other related documents show Smith was disciplined last year after directing that an inmate be kept in a restraint chair for approximately twelve hours without food, water, or restroom breaks.

And on Jan. 25, an inmate with mental health issues was not offered a wet towel, a shower or any “decontamination” for more than five hours after Smith had directed the discharge of OC-10 pepper spray into his closed cell, according to the sheriff’s office. There was no running water in the cell at the time, having been shut off the day before due to his attempt to flood the cell.

The termination letter from Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Chief of Staff Steven Walton noted that in both cases squad members approached Smith about attending to the inmates’ needs and Smith ignored them, allowing the inmates to suffer.

“Your conduct in this case screams of deliberate indifference to the care and well-being of those over whom you are responsible,” Walton wrote on behalf of the sheriff. “Indeed your conduct ‘shocks the conscience’ and could be viewed as violating basic civil rights possessed by all human beings regardless of status.”

Smith’s attorney O’Rourke pointed out Mansfield is an outgoing sheriff and that his office isn’t supposed to be involved in a large part of the investigation – Smith’s criminal case – because of a conflict of interest.

O’Rourke noted the sheriff has had firsthand experience as both being the subject of an investigation – in 2009 when allegations were made of Mansfield harboring a runaway; the 16-year-old girlfriend of his son, a case that ended with no charges filed – and contended he has before attempted to impose his own beliefs and try a case in the media before it was brought to court.

“(A)s was the case with the Ronald Brady homicide from a number of years ago, where his judgment was later proven to be incorrect by a trial court and appellate court,” O’Rourke stated.

O’Rourke was one of two Lewis County deputy prosecutors who tried the Brady case in 2011 and has since moved into private practice with the firm of Buzzard and Associates. Sheriff Mansfield refused to arrest Brady who shot at two intruders on his Onalaska property, saying it was self defense.

“My client and I hope that as this case moves forward, Sheriff Mansfield draws upon these experiences and discontinues any efforts to improperly taint this case and further prejudice my client,” O’Rourke wrote.

The June 27 letter did not name the two inmates, but did offer further details about the most recent incident.

The inmate with mental health issues was described as a man large in stature, 6-feet 9-inches tall and about 275 pounds, who had exhibited aggressive behavior since his incarceration. He was being held in the medical observation area when he reached through the cuff port in his cell and grabbed an officer’s keys, pulling the officer against the door, according to Walton.

The inmate got the keys, but returned them shortly after an entire three-ounce can of OC-10 was discharged into the cell, Walton wrote.

The decision to use force, the pepper spray, to gain compliance wasn’t questioned, according to Walton.

But leaving him to suffer without any relief was extremely serious and demonstrated unacceptable judgement and decision making, he wrote.

Walton left the sheriff’s office when on July 1 he took a position as Lewis County budget administrator, but has been designated to continue in the chief of staff-undersheriff role for the purposes of handling Smith’s case.

Smith was hired at the sheriff’s office in 2004 and promoted to jail sergeant in 2011.

Smith has filed a grievance through his union, asking to be reinstated, claiming his termination was not for just cause.

His arraignment on charges of computer trespass is set for next Thursday.

For background, read “Lewis County Jail sergeant let go for mistreating inmates, then arrested for computer snooping at work” from Wednesday July 16, 2014, here