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City Council Members’ Questions for the Spokane Police Department

The following are a sampling of questions for SPD submitted by individual Council Members
resulting from the events of recent weeks. These questions are not meant to denigrate SPD, but
for Council Members and community members to better understand SPD’s operating procedures.
These questions have been lightly edited for clarity.
 Why was there no traffic control for the May 31 st march?
There was traffic control during the event. The group did not have a permit to march and did
not have a permit for such a march. This would have allowed SPD to prepare for appropriate
street closures and ensure we had adequate resources to secure the marching route. Patrol
officers attempted to provide traffic control, but due to the large number of participants, the
fact that they separated into several large groups occupying multiple areas of downtown, and
notice of the intended route was not given by organizers, SPD did not have sufficient personnel
to perform traffic control at all locations.
After the protest concluded at the Public Safety Campus, and based on multiple attendees
throwing rocks at the SCSO and Jail staff guarding the campus, it was not safe to place patrol
officers who were not equipped with civil disturbance protective equipment in close proximity
to the large crowds. Once the group of 400 +/- protesters left the Public Safety Campus and
begin marching throughout the arterials of downtown Spokane, officers attempted to keep their
distance while providing as much traffic control as feasible. Officers attempting to block streets
had to create further distance from these protesters as groups of marchers attempted to
surround the police cars and block their paths (two police cars sustained almost $2000 in
damage per car). Officers attempted to anticipate traffic issues and provide traffic control, but it
was not possible to provide sufficient traffic control for such a situation based on the protesters
 How many people were arrested at the May 31 st march? How many of those individuals were
arrested for breaking curfew?
16 arrests were made. No arrests for violating curfew.
 Is it possible to review the criminal history of the individuals arrested during the protest?
 What, if anything, did the police department do about the armed “militia” members roaming
downtown after the curfew at both the May 31 st and June 7th marches? Were any of them cited,
arrested, or told to disperse after curfew?
As to the question regarding the May 31 st incident, the command post did receive reports of
several armed individuals in the area. SPD was also concerned about those reports as they were
not working with or for law enforcement and we did not know what their intentions were.
There were also several individuals on the east end of the curfew zone late afternoon / early
evening, who were armed and indicated that they intended on patrolling the area. A patrol
sergeant and the IA lieutenant contacted this group and advised the group of the curfew and
that they would be subject to arrest if they entered the curfew zone. The group complied with
the curfew order and indicated they intended on “patrolling” the area east of the downtown
core where there were no large crowds gathered and no restrictions related to the curfew. They
did not enter the area where officers were attempting to disperse non-compliant and violent
crowd members after given this warning.
On June 7th officers maintained a low-profile to avoid potential confrontations with protesters.
The only exception to this was at the Public Safety campus, which was guarded by SCSO and
WSP. The majority SPD presence was from a safe distance, to avoid further assaults on officers.
After the main march ended, a smaller group of 100 +/- marched through the downtown area
for several hours. Officers observed one person in this group armed with an assault style rifle.
Officers also observed a group of 10-15 people also armed with assault style rifles gathering east
of downtown. Persons from that group entered the downtown streets in smaller groups (1-3
people). The large group of 100 +/- protesters and the smaller armed groups did not come close
enough to each other to necessitate police intervention. Neither group were contacted by
police and eventually dispersed on their own.

 Community members are concerned that armed civilians were welcomed and/or authorized by
either the SPD or the Spokane County Sherriff’s Office to help patrol and stop damage and
looting during the May 31st and June 7th protests. Did this happen?

No. SPD did not sanction, endorse or condone the presence of non-law enforcement or non-
National Guard staff to attend or participate in events while armed.

 Many in leadership have agreed that the destructive and violent behavior was “extremely well
organized.” Is there confirmation of the organization(s) behind the violence? What intel
currently exists on the group(s)?

Officers noted, and advised the command post prior to the opening ceremony at the Red
Wagon, that protesters were pre-staging milk and water (decontaminates). SPD has never had
protesters pre-stage supplies commonly used to decontaminate or aid those who may have
been exposed to tear gas until the event of May 31 st. We understood at this point that this was
a level of sophistication and preparation our area had never seen before. This also corroborated
information obtained through various open sources that at least some of the participants were
attending in order to compel a confrontation with law enforcement (which did in fact occur).

With regard to the protestors at Howard and Riverside, they were obtaining “pressure bombs” from
a support vehicle that was parked on the south side of Howard and Riverside.  “Pressure bombs” are
plastic bottles filled with caustic/toxic chemicals that will build pressure until the container bursts
spraying chemicals on anyone nearby.  Officers also witnessed one device that was some sort of
improvised explosive device that emitted a green gas for approximately 20 seconds that was
deployed by the rioters at Howard and Riverside towards officers.  Also officers observed a “sparkler
bomb” IED used after dark. 

 Was it in the best interest of the community for SPD to shoot and tear gas people standing in
the street at Spokane Falls Blvd and Post during the May 31 st protest? If so, how was that
decision the preferred method?

May 31st was a very chaotic day, and the first time our region has experienced a riot.  SPD was
willing to allow the marchers (400+ in number) to block streets as they marched through
downtown for an hour and a half, including blocking arterials and forcing cars to avoid striking
them as they marched on the streets of downtown.  SPD did not move to arrest those who
graffiti’ed buildings or police cars, mainly because of the size of the group and the lack of police
resources to take effective action (at least two patrol cars were vandalized, costing taxpayers
$4,000 in repairs).

However, once members of this group broke into a downtown business and started looting, that
was the line in the sand where we knew we had to intervene to prevent the criminal behavior
from escalating (which we have seen in many other cities).  With the limited resources we had,
officers gave a dispersal order for the group to leave.  This group did not leave the downtown
area, and any efforts to move them were only successful in moving them half a block to a block
away.  These announcements, dispersal orders, and attempting to use tear gas to get them out
of the downtown (while they continued to damage buildings and assault officers with bricks and
stones), continued for hours until we were able to get assistance from outside agencies and
finally push them out of the downtown.  There was nothing confusing about the dispersal
orders; they were very clear.  However there was clearly a lack of compliance from those who
remained.  “Less lethal” munitions were specifically directed at those throwing objects at
officers (see attached photos and video for a sampling of what officers experienced for multiple
hours). Many of those committing crimes used other people as shields as they continued to
violate the law, which is one of the many reasons “everyone” was ordered to leave the
downtown area. 

 The City of Spokane prohibits dogs at events in the parks where large numbers of people are
anticipated. Is it possible to prohibit weapons at large gatherings as well?
That is a question best posed to City Legal.
 What is SPD doing to protect the citizens from the Proud Boys and other nationally recognized
hate and terrorist groups?
Officers detain and investigate subjects based upon a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Officers arrest subjects based upon probable cause for a crime. Regardless of a person’s
affiliation, the standard remains the same for all individuals.
 How many officers were posted downtown at the Proud Boys event where the memorial at City
Hall was destroyed? Were any individuals from that event charged with destruction of property?
If this is the COVID Protest on May 15, 2020-20080637: according to the Ops Plan, there were a
total of 19 officers and supervisors assigned. The Downtown Precinct, under Captain Singley,
was assigned follow-up regarding the allegation of damaged property. We are still awaiting the
outcome of that investigation.
 Does SPD denounce White Supremacy, White Nationalists, the Proud Boys, and other domestic
terror groups?
The role of SPD is to abide by the federal and state constitutions as well as the city charter. We
are responsible for maintaining order and investigating criminal activity. Our message to the
community is that we will abide by the documents mentioned above, serve to protect all
members of the community with fairness and equity and act in good faith to enforce laws
passed by the legislative branch. It is the Chief’s philosophy that publicly denouncing groups is
the realm of elected politicians, not the Chief of Police.

 A controversial police trainer is allegedly being brought to Spokane for County law enforcement
training this October. Will any SPD officers attend this training, and what is SPD’s stance on this
trainer’s method?
This is a Spokane County event and we are not aware of any employees from the City of
Spokane attending.

 Is SPD currently reviewing or planning to review its use of force policies?

SPD revised and updated its Use of Force Policy in collaboration with DOJ in 2017. In 2019, on
its own initiative, SPD revised the Use of Force policy again, along with creating a unique and
separate de-escalation policy, while collaborating with City Legal. The final draft was presented
to a number of citizen groups, and reviewed by the City Council and others, prior to being
implemented. Included in the updated policy was memorialization of the sanctity of human
life, a minimal reliance on use of force to effect arrests, duty to intervene and duty to report
excessive force.

 Is SPD planning to remove tear gas from the SPD toolkit?

To remove CS gas from one of the tools SPD uses for crowd control will place city employees in a
position where they are not able to safely control rioters or those assaulting officers under
conditions experienced May 31st. It is important to remember that multiple announcements are
given prior to the deployment of gas, and individuals potentially affected by the chemical are
given ample opportunity to leave the area (as directed prior to deployment). Officers will not be
in a position to stop looting and rioting if this tool is removed, without great risk to officers and
the likelihood of more serious injuries to rioters and police officers. This tool is used on those
that have created a very dangerous environment to property or the safety of others.
 Will there be an independent investigation of SPD actions at the May 31st protest?
Community Member’s Questions for the Spokane Police Department

The following are questions for SPD that were submitted to Council by Spokane community members
resulting from the events of recent weeks. These questions have been lightly edited for clarity.

 I am writing to ask you to take action today to reduce police violence in Spokane by adopting
policies that require non-violent tactics. Data proves that having all of the following eight
policies in place can decrease police violence by 72%:
o Duty to Intervene
o Require Warning Before Shooting
o Require Comprehensive Reporting
o Have Use of Force Continuum
o Require De-escalation
o Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds
o Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
o Requires Exhausting Other Means Before Shooting
Spokane already has the first four policies on this list, but our city does not require de-
escalation, ban chokeholds and strangleholds, ban shooting at moving vehicles, or require
exhausting other means before shooting. The lack of these policies makes our city more
dangerous and disproportionately affect black people in our communities. What are you doing
now to prevent police violence and make our city safer for all people?
SPD has policy and training that fall under at least six of the eight guidelines. The Use of Force
Continuum was discontinued several years ago as no longer “best practices. For more
information on this, see Daigle Law Group (
continuum-seriously/ ). Regarding the topic of officer-involved shootings, SPD relies on Graham v.
Connor and the totality of the circumstances to determine the appropriateness of using any force, up
to and including deadly force. No policy can realistically cover every scenario and officers are
authorized to use deadly force to prevent substantial bodily injury or death to themselves or others.
The appropriateness of the split second decisions they are often required to make are based on a
reasonable officer standard, as directed by the Courts.
 Why were heavily-armed allowed to roam the streets at the May 31 st protest after the curfew?
SPD abides by, protects and supports the Constitution. The Washington State Constitution
allows for open carry of firearms. Any infringement upon that right, barring Court order or legal
process, exposes the City and its employees to liability.

 Why were chemical weapons (tear gas) used on a civilian population, when it is outlawed by the
Geneva Convention?

SPD follows the laws and Constitution of the United States and Washington state.
 Were the armed militia members at the May 31 st and June 7th protests affiliated with a particular
group? Who told them to come to the city of Spokane? What are their intentions? A lot of folks
downtown saw people with Proud Boys tattoos.

The United States allows freedom of association and its citizens have the right to associate with
whomever they choose (with some limited restrictions). SPD takes great effort to base its
enforcement on criminal behavior, not association.

 What can SPD tell the community about the unmarked white SUV that ran over people on the
corner of Riverside and Monroe during the May 31 st protest?

On May 31, 2020 at approximately 1810 hours, a white Ford Explorer owned and operated by a City
of Spokane resident was traveling west on East Riverside Avenue. The driver of the Ford Explorer was
accompanied by his wife and disabled child. As the driver traveled west on Riverside Avenue after
crossing Post Street, the driver observed a large crowd of protesters occupying the entire courtyard
of the Federal Building. The driver also encountered multiple vehicles parked sideways on Riverside
Avenue blocking three of the four lanes of traffic. The blocking vehicles were strategically positioned
to create a choke point in the roadway. In addition, multiple protesters were also standing in and
around the choke point they had created.

Video evidence obtained from the Federal Building shows the Ford Explorer slowly approach from
the east in the left lane. As it rounded the turn, a protester standing in the Explorer’s path appeared
to be directing the Explorer around him into the right lane, towards the choke point. As the Explorer
approached the choke, the Explorer stopped as multiple protesters approached the Explorer. The
Explorer slowly moved forward to drive through the choke point protesters had created. The
Explorer was traveling at walking speed as it entered the choke point.  When the Explorer entered
the choke, multiple protesters stood in the Explorers path, as two protesters intentionally jumped on
the hood. The driver of the Explorer indicated the large crowd around his vehicle, and the actions of
the two protesters jumping on his vehicle, placed him in immediate fear for his family’s lives.

After the two protesters jumped on the hood, the driver accelerated forward and then abruptly
stopped. However both protesters remained on the hood as the large group of protesters began to
rush the Explorer. In response, the driver accelerated and slowed again; the two protesters remained
on the hood of his vehicle as the approaching group of protesters rapidly grew in size. The driver
stated the fear for his family increased, prompting him to accelerate away with both protesters on
the hood of his Explorer.

As the driver fled west on Riverside, he turned south on Monroe Street. As he turned, the protester
on the passenger side of his hood fell off; however, the protester on the driver side of his hood
remained, until falling off near the intersection of Monroe and Sprague.

The driver of the Explorer quickly made contact with the police at fire station #4 at 1814 hours that
day. The Spokane Police Major Crime Unit is investigating this incident, and will forward any
appropriate charges to the Spokane County Prosecutors Office when the investigation is complete.

 Will the police department soon adopt the cities updated harassment and bullying policies?
The Spokane Police Department policy manual covers these important topics.
 Why was the curfew being upheld selectively at the May 31 st protest?
The number of individuals who were actively engaged in riotous and / or disorderly behaviors
required the primary attention of law enforcement until the widespread illegal activities ceased.
Officers were focused on several large groups of protesters who continued to assault them with
rocks and bricks, until sufficient resources from other jurisdictions arrived and assisted in
clearing the downtown in compliance with the curfew.
 If the police department knew violence was about to erupt due to the intelligence they had, why
wasn’t the emergency alert and curfew sent out earlier?
Americans enjoy the right to peacefully assemble, protest or express their views. SPD refrained
from taking action at the PSB where some members of the crowd were throwing bricks and
rocks at officers. SPD also refrained from taking action when members of this same crowd
blocked downtown arterials for several hours and committed acts of malicious mischief and
disorderly conduct. When members of the crowd began to loot and cause significant damage to
businesses, SPD responded and ordered the crowd to disperse. We respect the right to
peacefully assemble, but will not stand by idly as property is being damaged, businesses are
being looted, and officers are continually being assaulted.
 If they know antifa were involved from C.I. accounts. Are there going to be prosecution of those
accused of looting and rioting?
There are still open and active criminal investigations regarding this incident and more arrests
will be made if probable cause is established on those who chose to break the law.

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