SPD Looks to Public to Gain Information on 8/10/14 Homicide; Crimestoppers Offers Cash Reward

Spokane Police Major Crimes detectives are looking to the public to help them gain more information, including additional information from an anonymous tipster, regarding the homicide that occurred at the Howard Johnson Motel on 8/10/2014. 

The day after the homicide, 8/11/14, Spokane Police received two anonymous messages from the same person (one at 3:43 pm and one at 3:29 pm) with information on the homicide. 

Detectives are asking this individual to contact police again via Crimestoppers (1-800-222-TIPS or www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org) and request to speak with Detective Barrington. 

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for anyone providing information leading to an arrest in this incident.  Persons with information should call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-TIPS, or should forward the tip via the Internet website www.crimestoppersinlandnorthwest.org.  Crime Stoppers of the Inland Northwest is a civilian organization that promotes public safety by paying cash rewards for information that solves crimes.  It is not affiliated with law enforcement.

SPD Looks to Public to Assist in Location of Missing Vulnerable Adult

Spokane Police are looking to the public to assist in locating missing vulnerable adult Esther “Ruby” Falt (81). 

Falt was last seen this morning near the intersection of W. Spofford and W. Augusta.  Falt is described as a white female, with gray hair, approximately 5’3” tall, with a thin build.  She was last seen wearing a brown hat, white shirt and jean shorts. Falt suffers from multiple health concerns, which require consistent medical treatment (including diabetes and dementia).  Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately.     

*We understand the quality of the photo is poor, however this is the only photo available.

Spokane Police Expand the SWAT Team’s Mission and Re-name the Team to Reflect this Important Change

The Spokane Police Department enhances the training and response capabilities of the SWAT team to form The Emergency Response Unit.

The Spokane Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team is now the Emergency Response Unit (ERU).  The ERU will build on the tactical expertise of team members by enhancing their ability to respond to and/or rescue persons in crisis whose actions threaten their individual safety, the safety of the community, or the safety of responding officers.

All members of the ERU will receive specialized training in hostage/crisis negotiations. Team members will continue to be trained in tactical emergency medicine, with some members receiving advanced emergency medical training. Some members of the team will also receive enhanced crisis intervention training (ECIT), building on the (40) hours of basic CIT training they have already received.

Additionally, the team will receive training in rescue techniques consistent with incidents that involve individuals threatening to harm themselves, others, and/or responding officers. The team will also be equipped with the requisite equipment to ensure the safety of persons in crisis, the community, and of responding officers.

Earlier this week, and again this morning, SPD officers responded to incidents of individuals threatening to commit suicide by jumping off bridges in Spokane. Officers regularly face these life and death situations and in many cases respond by risking their personal safety to save the life of the individual threatening to harm themselves. Police officers responding to these type of critical incidents must be appropriately trained and equipped to ensure the safety of the individuals they encounter, the community’s safety, and their safety.

“I, as well as our public safety leaders are committed to continuous improvement of the public safety services we provide to our citizens.  This is a step that will undoubtedly help to save lives while protecting the safety of our first responders.” – Spokane Mayor David Condon

“All too frequently our police officers are confronting individuals who are in crisis and threatening to harm themselves, members of the community, or responding officers. It is imperative that we properly train and equip members of the Emergency Response Unit, so that they can safely resolve these incidents and minimize the risk of injury and/or death.” – Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub

ERU is one of several changes the City of Spokane has, and continues to make, to strengthen our public safety response. For example, the Spokane Fire Department has implemented Alternative Response Units (ARUs) in order to send the most appropriate response to non-emergency medical calls. Additionally, working in collaboration with the Police Department, the Fire Department created the Rescue Task Force which deploys with the Police Department in the event of an active shooter or mass causality incident to render emergency medical treatment to victims. The Task Force deployed with the Police Department in response to the tragic incident at Deaconess Hospital.

Spokane Police Officer Bob Collins Safely De-escalates a Suicidal Man and Pulls him to Safety off the Sunset Bridge.

This morning, 9/8/14, at approximately 10:00 am, Spokane Police received several reports of a man sitting on the rail of the north side of the Sunset Bridge.  Ofc. Bob Collins responded to the scene and engaged the man in conversation.  The man indicated he was suicidal and planned to jump off the bridge.  Ofc. Collins continued to talk to the man, and using verbal de-escalation techniques, was able to get close enough to him to pull him off the rail to safety.  The man was transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.  Thanks to Ofc. Collins’ quick-thinking and verbal de-escalation techniques, a suicide was likely prevented.

SPD Quickly Locates and Arrests Drive by Shooting and Assault Suspect

Spokane Police quickly locate and arrest a Drive by Shooting and Assault suspect after a report of shots fired and an auto-bicyclist collision in North Spokane. 

Tonight, 9/6/2014, just after 6:00 pm, Spokane Police received a call of shots fired in the 6000 block of N. Mayfair. Additionally, officers received a report of a vehicle hitting a bicyclist at this location. Officers quickly responded to the scene however they were unable to locate a suspect or a victim. 

A short time later, officers located the victim in both of these incidents at a local hospital. It was determined the same man had been shot once in the arm and had been struck by a vehicle. The victim’s injuries are non-life-threatening.

Officers were able to develop a good description of the shooting suspect as well as the vehicle he was seen leaving the scene in. 

The suspect vehicle was located several blocks away from the initial incidents, in the 6000 block of N. Standard. Officers located the suspect, identified as Gary J. Courtney (56), at this location and took him safely into custody. 

Courtney was arrested on charges of 1st Degree Assault and Drive by Shooting.

The victim and suspect are believed to know one another and there are no outstanding suspects.

 

Spokane Police Host Community and Media Forums During Body Camera Pilot Program

The Spokane Police Department will host community and media forums during the pilot phase of the body worn camera program.  The body worn camera pilot program extends through December 2014 and will allow for public discussion and feedback regarding the body camera policy.

The implementation of the Spokane Police Department’s body worn camera pilot project began on September 1, 2014.  Seventeen (17) Spokane Police officers volunteered to participate in the pilot project.

In addition to addressing technical and logistical issues, SPD leadership will use the pilot project to finalize the body camera policy, based on officer and community feedback.

  • A body worn camera forum for the media will be hosted on September 12, 2014, at 10:00 am, at the Spokane Police Department’s Training Academy (2302 N. Waterworks St., Spokane, WA 99212).  The purpose of the forum is to familiarize members of the media with the equipment, policy, public records request process, privacy concerns, and to solicit thoughts and comments.

 

  • The draft policy will be shared with the public during a community forum on October 30, 2014, at 5:30 pm, at Cataldo Hall on the Gonzaga University campus and through other community outreach opportunities.

 

The pilot phase will end on December 31, 2014, with adjustments being made to the body worn camera policy and procedures based on officer and community input.

Below is a link to a body camera video news story.  Although the video features a glasses-mounted camera (SPD is utilizing the chest-mounted cameras), the video provides perspective from the Laurel, Maryland Police Department, which currently utilizes the cameras.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVcdWdKEiTQ&list=UUjrEK_bFfxLC4GjamZCG6kQ

Links are provided below to materials from the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs regarding the use of body worn cameras https://static.spokanecity.org/documents/police/accountability/bodycamera/police-officer-body-worn-cameras.pdf and a recent Police Executive Research forum (PERF) publication which offers the perspective of chiefs from around the country on the use of body worn cameras https://static.spokanecity.org/documents/police/accountability/bodycamera/subject-to-debate-july-aug-2014.pdf

DUI Suspect Arrested After he Drives on Train Tracks, Gets Car Stuck, and Car is Hit by Train

DUI suspect drives car on to train tracks, gets his vehicle stuck on the train tracks, leaves the scene before a train collides with the vehicle, jumps down a 7-foot embankment, breaks his ankle in the jump, and is located by officers and arrested for DUI.

This morning, just after 2:50 am, Spokane Police received a report of an accident/collision involving a vehicle and a train near the intersection of S. Browne St. and W. Pacific Ave. Officers were on-scene less than two minutes after the call and determined a train had hit an unoccupied vehicle in the area of Sprague Way and Erie.  Witnesses indicated they saw two males leaving the location on foot. 

Officers located the two males, and determined the driver, identified as 24-year-old Ruben Flores drove westbound onto the train tracks until his vehicle got stuck on the tracks.  A train approached the vehicle and Flores and the vehicle passenger got out of the car prior to the train hitting the car.  The two left the scene westbound on foot and jumped down a 7-foot embankment near Sprague at Division.  As a result of the jump, Flores broke his ankle. 

Upon location of Flores and the passenger of the vehicle, officers determined the two had been drinking.  Flores was arrested for DUI and transported to the hospital for treatment for the injury he sustained jumping from the tracks.

No other injuries were reported stemming from this incident.

Spokane Police Arrest Seven-Time Convicted Felon and End Standoff Peacefully

Spokane Police arrest seven-time convicted felon, 27-year-old Jody Wallette, after he fled from police and threw a gun and drugs out the window of his vehicle while fleeing.  After a brief standoff at a home in South Spokane, officers took Wallette safely into custody.   Wallette was arrested and will be booked into the Spokane County Jail on charges of Attempt to Elude a Police Vehicle, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Possession of a Controlled Substance (meth).

 

Today, 8/16/14, at approximately 4:00 pm, Spokane Police located a suspicious vehicle near the intersection of 36th and Ray St.  Before officers could make contact, the vehicle quickly drove away, and the driver threw a firearm and a bag of drugs (believed to be meth) out the window.  The male driver continued to flee from approaching police vehicles, even driving into on-coming traffic.  Officers did not pursue the fleeing vehicle out of a concern for public safety. 

Spokane Police officers quickly determined a location where they believed the male driver of the fleeing vehicle to be located – a home in the 3800 block of E. 36th Ave.

Due to the violent history of the suspect, identified as 27-year-old Jody L. Wallette, Hostage Negotiators, SWAT, K-9 officers, and members of the Patrol Anti-Crime Team (PACT) responded to the home to safely apprehend the suspect.  Wallette is a seven-time convicted felon with convictions including Assault, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and Robbery.

Officers engaged in verbal contact with Wallette and after a brief period of negotiations, Wallette exited the residence and was taken into custody peacefully.

Wallette was arrested and will be booked into the Spokane County Jail on charges of Attempt to Elude a Police Vehicle, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Possession of a Controlled Substance (meth).

Spokane Police Arrest Man for Residential Burglary & Felony Harassment (Threats to Kill); Witnesses Say He Told Them he was a Police Officer

Spokane Police arrest 18-year-old Anthony P. Brower for Residential Burglary and Felony Harassment (Threats to Kill) after he allegedly burglarized a home and threatened a victim with a replica rifle.  Additionally, it was reported that Brower was telling people in the area he was a police officer.

Last night, at 8/13/2014, at approximately 7:30 pm, Spokane Police officers responded to the report of a suspicious person in the area of 8900 N. Colton. It was reported a male had been seen carrying what appeared to be a rifle and was telling neighbors he was a police officer.

Officers located them man, later identified as Brower, and were able to take him into custody quickly and without incident. During the investigation, it was determined Brower threatened a woman. It was also determined he had burglarized an apartment in the area.

Multiple witnesses had called in to report the male’s suspicious activity and with the help of these calls, officers were able to find and quickly apprehend Brower.

Chronic Offender Arrested After Choking Police K-9 Rav

Spokane Police Arrest Chronic Offender Richard Urbanski (29) who has 10 Felony Convictions after he Chokes Police K-9 Rav.  K-9 Rav was not seriously injured in the incident.

 

Yesterday, 8/12/14, at approximately 4:00 pm, Spokane Police officers from the Chronic Offender Unit responded to a home in the 600 block of E. 9th Ave. to serve a Department of Corrections (DOC) Escape Warrant for 29-year-old Richard M. Urbanski. 

Urbanski is a Chronic Offender with 10 felony convictions, including convictions for Burglary, Possession of Stolen Property, and Resisting Arrest.  Urbanski is considered a violent offender, who has had recent contact with law enforcement (he fled from arrest and was located by a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office K-9 several weeks ago) and officers received information he may be armed with a large knife.

Upon arrival, Chronic Offender Officers Yrigollen and Willard, Sergeants Waters and Hartman, and Officer O’Brien repeatedly announced their presence, told Urbanski he was under arrest for his warrant and told him to exit the residence.  Urbanski refused to exit the residence after repeated announcements and K-9 Officer Dan Lesser and K-9 Rav were called to the scene to assist.  

Officer Lesser made several more announcements, telling Urbanski to exit the residence.  Urbanski did not exit the residence and Officer Lesser and K-9 Rav entered the residence (after receiving consent from the homeowner) in an attempt to locate Urbanski and safely place him under arrest. 

K-9 Rav located Urbanski in a crawl space underneath a staircase in the home.  Officer Lesser could hear a struggle under the staircase and a change in Rav’s breathing.  Officer Lesser attempted to recall Rav, however Urbanski was holding on to and twisting Rav’s collar, choking Rav.  Ofc. Lesser gave additional verbal commands for Urbanski to release Rav, however Urbanski continued to choke Rav and fight violently.  A Taser was deployed and Urbanski released Rav. 

Urbanski was arrested, transported to the hospital with minor injuries, and booked into the Spokane County jail on the DOC warrant and for Harming a Police Dog.

K-9 Rav was not seriously injured in the incident.