Even if a lawsuit doesn't prevail in court, the costs and time and trouble of defending against a suit can motivate changes in the organization. I would hope for at least improvements in police behavior to perform better due diligence when dealing with fatality situation.
I would hope for at least improvements in police behavior to perform better due diligence when dealing with fatality situation.
Uvalde Texas was a year ago. Has anything changed?
I don't see much equivalence between the two tragedies. Uvalde showed that [gun commentary removed by moderator]
This case is about performing a competent investigation of a crime scene and performing autopsies competently to discover the facts.
The way the Lewis County Sheriff’s department handled this case it would appear that their are some combination of grossly incompetent / interested in protecting "good ole local boys" at the expense of unwelcome "Portland Hippies"
In Uvalde, the local sheriff waited outside the school building for over an hour before moving in to defend local kids and the 27 billion dollar lawsuit against the Uvalde police department is still in process.
I had cases with the elected Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer way back in the day. It is rare for a prosecutor to throw the sheriff's office under the bus in the way Meyer has in his comments to the media. Not that those comments are not deserved. The vast majority of cases Meyer prosecutes are Lewis County Sheriff cases, so it is necessary to keep a good professional relationship between the two offices (a small number of cases come from Chehalis and Centralia police, but everything else comes from the Sheriff's Office). But since both the prosecutor and sheriff are elected positions in Washington, Meyer wants to distance himself from the mistakes made in this case (to cover his own ass). My overall impression with people working in the criminal justice system in Lewis County is incompetence, with lots of petty, small town drama. This includes the prosecutors, sheriffs, judges, and public defenders. It's hard to attract the best and the brightest to places like Chehalis.
From my reading of a few articles, I would say it is likely the victim's family settles their civil case for multi-millions. I don't see the case going to trial because the victim's family will shred the sheriff's department at trial, and a trial will expose the level of incompetence and corruption. This, in turn, would force all the people working on the case to be fired (becuase they would all be required to be added to the "Brady List," which is a list of all the law enforcement employees who have done possible unethical things that must be shared with defense attorneys on all cases the unethical law enforcement touches). Best for the county to settle fast for a couple million and shove this case under the rug. I could also see the settlement costing the elected sheriff his job in the next election. Lewis County folks like to protect their own but they also won't be happy with having to pay out a large settlement due to the government's incompetence.
Also, the good ol boys judges in Lewis County won't be able to protect the good ol boy sheriffs because the victim's family has the option of filing their law suit against Lewis County in either Cowlitz or Thurston County. My money says this lawsuit will be filed in Thurston County, with much more liberal judges, who are amongst the most competent in the state (Thurston is where lawsuits against the state must be filed so it is the legal epicenter of the state, along with King County).
The Attorney General is handling the investigation/prosecution of the alleged murder of Manual Ellis by Tacoma Police and the Pierce County Sheriff. I think Aron Christensen's family has shown enough issues with the case (such as the Lewis County Prosecutor acknowledging the Sheriff screwed things up) that the case should be transferred to the Attorney General.
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