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Saturday, August 7, 2010

[OR] Truth and Accountability: Sheriff's Sgt. Grahn's domestic triple-murder suicide case not over yet



...On Feb. 12, [Clackamas County Sheriff's Deputy, Sgt. Jeffrey] Grahn went to the M&M Lounge, 137 N. Main Ave., Gresham, and at close range shot his wife and the two women with her. Then he turned the gun on himself. Kathleen Hoffmeister was one of the three women Grahn killed, and her husband, Jay, believes more could have been done to prevent such a tragedy... [Jay Hoffmeister] will seek compensation, contending that Clackamas County failed to rein in an out-of-control employee... Women's eNews recently asked Dave Thomas, a retired Montgomery County Maryland police officer familiar with the case, to review how the Grahn case was handled...

DEPUTY'S CARNAGE MAY BE AIRED IN STATE COURT: Clackamas County could be faulted in its handling of investigation
The Sandy Post
By Jim Hart
Aug 3, 2010
[Excerpts] Six months after three people died at the hands of a Clackamas County deputy sheriff - before he turned the gun on himself - the case is likely to come to court. A tort claim has been filed against Clackamas County by Jay Hoffmeister and the estate of Kathleen Hoffmeister... It’s a legal document stating the intent of one party to file a lawsuit against a government agency - in this case likely a wrongful death claim as well as negligence in the way the investigation was conducted... The tort claim describes with very little detail that Hoffmeister intends to accuse the county of negligence in “failing to act upon or adequately investigate instances of anger, abusive behavior and domestic violence of Sergeant (Jeffrey) Grahn.” The tort claim suggests the investigations of Grahn by the Portland Police Bureau were not allowed to be adequately reviewed by county prosecutors, something the Hoffmeister family and their attorneys believe could have produced different results... The tort claim suggests the sheriff’s department and Portland Police Bureau should have acted sooner and should not have just accepted the statements of people who lived in the same home with Grahn or those of his closest friends outside of his home... [The Grahn's friends] told Portland police investigators that Grahn told his wife to be quiet or he would lose his job and source of income... their friends were telling Portland police investigators of conversations they had with Charlotte and her children — conversations in which one of the Grahn children said Charlotte had surgery that was necessary because her husband had hit her in the stomach... The investigators heard about the objects Grahn had allegedly thrown at family members, of his constant yelling at them and about the hair Grahn allegedly had ripped from Charlotte’s head. One of the family friends reported a conversation with one of the Grahn children, revealing the deputy was depressed and suicidal, and he had been prevented from getting his gun to keep him from killing himself. The child had predicted the result could be that he would kill his family and then himself... On Feb. 12, Grahn went to the M&M Lounge, 137 N. Main Ave., Gresham, and at close range shot his wife and the two women with her. Then he turned the gun on himself. Kathleen Hoffmeister was one of the three women Grahn killed, and her husband, Jay, believes more could have been done to prevent such a tragedy... Jay Hoffmeister, represented by McDougal, is demanding compensation... [READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.]

OREGON OFFICER WIFE-ABUSE PROBE PRECEDED KILLINGS
Women's eNews Inc
By Judith Spitzer
August 4, 2010
[Excerpts] The suicide-killing rampage by an Oregon sheriff's officer last February leaves questions about why early warning signs in 2009 went unheeded. A particular matter of concern: the Portland Police Bureau's decision to honor a request by the Sheriff's Office of Clackamas County to keep the local district attorney's office out of an internal investigation of the officer last year... Clackamas County Sheriff Sgt. Jeffery Grahn, 46, killed his wife Charlotte, 47, two of her friends - Kathleen Hoffmeister, 53, and Victoria Schulmerich, 53 - and then himself at a bar in Gresham, Ore., a suburb of Portland... For weeks after the shooting the Sheriff's Office of Clackamas County denied there were warning signs... Under pressure from local media, however, it made public documents that since have been widely reported on, showing allegations of domestic abuse just 10 months before the shooting... Women's eNews recently asked Dave Thomas, a retired Montgomery County Maryland police officer familiar with the case, to review how the Grahn case was handled. Thomas, now at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., trains police departments across the country about officer-involved domestic violence. "We're talking here about someone who is incredibly dangerous and agencies with prior knowledge," Thomas said in a phone interview. "The totality of it says even if he wasn't physically abusing her - which I totally think he was - there was enough administratively to pull his badge and gun given everything that's going on. He's a danger to himself, to his family and to the community." Jim Strovink, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office spokesperson, has consistently told reporters that the county's hands were tied because Charlotte Grahn would not talk with officers about specifics of the abuse... Thomas said Charlotte Grahn's reluctance to talk to officers should have itself been a sign that Jeffrey Grahn fit the profile of a batterer. "The fact that his wife says she's pleading the Fifth Amendment," he said. "That's a huge red flag that we have something seriously wrong here. If it's on the up-and-up why is she pleading the Fifth instead of just saying that there's nothing wrong?" In early May 2009, the Sheriff's Office requested the Portland Police Bureau take over the investigation... In an interoffice memo written before the killing rampage by [Portland Police Bureau's Sgt. Margaret Bahnson] to a police supervisor, Bahnson referred to Portland's standard police policy that when investigating one of its own officers involved in a domestic violence incident policy is "to bring in our district attorney's office." "When I brought up the idea of bringing in Clackamas County DA's office for this case Phalen asked that we hold off on that," Bahnson wrote. "Thinking that I was not making my point clear I further explained the reason we included the DA's office was to bounce ideas off each other, keep the investigation transparent and talk about charges or other legal issues," she wrote. "Lt. Phalen still asked that we hold off on including Clackamas Co. DA's office." Johns Hopkins University's Thomas criticized as "ludicrous" the decision by Portland police to honor the request of Phalen to keep district attorneys out of the case. Bahnson recently told Women's eNews that, "Yes there were a ton of red flags, but there was nothing criminal he was doing that we could come up with." When asked specifically about the red flags, Bahnson said Grahn scored "very high" on a lethality assessment conducted as part of the investigation... [READ FULL ARTICLE HERE.]

Charlotte Grahn

Kathleen Hoffmeister

Victoria Schulmerich

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HUSBAND SEEKS COMPENSATION IN CLACKAMAS SERGEANT'S MURDER-SUICIDE
The Oregonian
Steve Mayes
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The husband of a woman killed during a murderous rampage this year by an off-duty sheriff's sergeant will seek compensation, contending that Clackamas County failed to rein in an out-of-control employee.

Jay Hoffmeister claims the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office "was negligent in failing to act upon or adequately investigate instances of anger, abusive behavior and domestic violence" involving Sgt. Jeffrey Grahn.

Hoffmeister's tort claim, filed July 16, also alleges that Clackamas County "failed to allow full and complete investigation of Sgt. Grahn's conduct, including review of Sgt. Grahn's conduct by prosecuting authorities."

On Feb. 12, Charlotte Grahn and two of her friends, Kathleen Hoffmeister and Victoria Schulmerich, went to the M&M Lounge & Restaurant in Gresham.

Jeffrey Grahn arrived later and confronted the women. He took his wife outside and shot her in the head, went back into the club, shot Schulmerich and Hoffmeister, and then killed himself.

Hoffmeister and his attorney, Mark McDougal, declined to comment on the filing or to explain how the county was negligent, but previous reports suggest some possibilities.

In May 2009, the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office asked the Portland Police Bureau to investigate accusations that Grahn physically abused his wife.

The investigation revealed that nine months before the shootings Charlotte Grahn's sister told police she thought the Grahns' increasingly abusive relationship could end in murder-suicide. The sister was one of several friends and relatives who expressed concern for Charlotte Grahn's safety.

Portland police also learned that Grahn, a 15-year sheriff's office employee, was depressed, angry, drinking heavily and occasionally suicidal. But they concluded the evidence did not support criminal charges.

A subsequent report in The Oregonian disclosed that Portland police had asked that a prosecutor with the Clackamas County district attorney's office be assigned to the Grahn investigation. In Portland, investigators routinely request a prosecutor's assistance when an officer is accused of domestic violence.

The head of the Clackamas County sheriff's internal affairs unit asked investigators to "hold off" on asking for a help. The county's lead prosecutor said his office should have been involved from the beginning but did not learn about the Grahn investigation until after the murder-suicides.

The Oregonian's May 22 report noted that Clackamas County's reluctance to follow Portland's protocol in the Grahn investigation could become significant as families of the victims evaluate the county's potential liability.

Members of the Schulmerich and Grahn families face an Aug. 12 deadline to file similar claims.

"We're keeping our options open," said James O'Rourke Jr., an attorney representing the Schulmerich family.

Attempts to reach the Grahn family's attorney were unsuccessful.

Clackamas County commissioners were briefed on the tort claim at a closed session Tuesday morning.

Edward S. McGlone III, an attorney with the Clackamas County counsel's office, declined comment on Hoffmeister's claim. The sheriff's office also had no comment.

Steve Mayes
[ARTICLE LINK]
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities lethal murder liability accountability lawsuit]

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