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Saturday, October 18, 2008

[WA] Topsy Turvy : Detective Mehring Acquitted. Chief Kilpatrick Chastised.

...The prosecutor said Mehring terrified his wife... "She believed that threat, and she was scared"...

Wife-threatening Detective, Jay Mehring, plans on being reinstated with 18 months backpay after his wife testified his lethal threats didn't scare her. Police Chief Anne Kilpatrick is accused of going above and beyond in her efforts to see a conviction.

Previous entries:

The Spokesman
Bill Morlin billm@spokesman.com
October 18, 2008
[Excerpts] Spokane police Detective Jay Mehring goes back on the city payroll Monday after a jury acquitted him today of a felony harassment charge – threatening to “burn down” his estranged wife’s home. Lisa Mehring embraced her former husband moments after the 12-member jury returned its unanimous verdict. “I’m very pleased it’s all over – finally," said the pharmacist and mother of two. She was an unwilling prosecution witness, threatened with contempt, whose testimony became the backbone of the defense case. Her ex-husband – who has faced the pending felony charge for 19 months – shook hands with his attorney, Chris Bugbee, then chatted with TWO ROWS OF DETECTIVES AND OFFICERS FROM THE SPOKANE POLICE DEPARTMENT, THE SHERIFF’S OFFICE AND THE WASHINGTON STATE PATROL. No one from the police command staff was present in the courtroom. “I’m grateful for their verdict," the 40-year-old career detective said outside the courtroom. Jurors “obviously took the case very seriously.” Mehring said he’s eager to go back to work for the Police Department. He is a former SWAT team member, sniper and undercover detective assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration Spokane Regional Drug Task Force. Spokane Police Guild President Ernie Wuthrich said he wishes the case could have been handled as an “internal inquiry," and not a criminal case that he said has been “destructive to the morale” of the 300-officer department. “People were divided into different camps, over who they believed," Wuthrich said. The union president said the department’s administration “set this terrible sequence of events into action and caused a whole lot of stress for this detective and his family and some of the rest of us.” Immediately after the verdict, the Guild president and Mehring went to the office of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to ask for Mehring’s immediate job reinstatement... Mehring said he, and many other detectives, remain puzzled why the criminal case was launched, claiming he was a “victim of a political agenda” just seven months after Kirkpatrick became police chief. He didn’t take the stand during the trial... Reached for comment this afternoon, Kirkpatrick said she has “no regrets” about asking the Sheriff’s Office to investigate the case once Spokane police Sgts. Dave Overhoff and Troy Teigen – both longtime friends of Mehring’s – said they had heard he was threatening to “burn down” his estranged wife’s home with her in it. “Once these complaints came in, we asked the officers to reduce those comments to writing and I handed it off to an outside agency, the Sheriff’s Office,” Kirkpatrick said... AT ONE POINT DURING THE TRIAL, DEPUTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY MARK LINDSEY SUGGESTED HE DIDN'T THINK THE CASE BELONGED IN COURT. “YOU THINK I WANTED TO FILE THIS STUPID CASE? YOU’RE WRONG," HE SAID DURING A COURTROOM EXCHANGE WITH THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY, WITH THE JUDGE AND JURY GONE...[Full article here]

Oct 17, 2008
[Excerpts] ...Detective Ernie Wuthrich was at Mehring's verdict Friday morning along with more than a dozen other officers and detectives showing their support for their fellow detective. Wuthrich, who is also the Police Guild President, said the department owesMehring an apology and a lot more. "I want to see him immediately reinstated per civil service rules and paid all of his back pay wages and everything that he's got coming to him that he missed over the past 18 months," Wuthrich said. Mehring was taken off unpaid leave and placed on paid administrative leave at the conclusion of his trial. He will remain on paid leave until an internal affairs investigation into his case has concluded. While the trial has concluded the argument over Chief Kirkpatrick's handling of the disciplinary action leveled against Detective Mehring is far from over. "In my opinion the chief acted way too swiftly in this case, did not take into consideration all the factors that were involved," Mehring said. The police department has defended its actions, saying that civil service rules require that any officer charged with a felony be placed on unpaid leave. However a closer look at the rules shows that unpaid leave is an option, not a requirement. The case has been embroiled in controversy as the defense team argued that Chief Kirkpatrick intimidated a defense witness, a statement echoed by Judge Michael Price, who criticized her heavy-handed approach to disciplining the rank and file. Judge Price commented to the effect that the chief's influence had a chilling effect on officers who may have been willing to testify on Mehring's behalf in court. Kirkpatrick said in court that she stood by her policies concerning the disciplining of her officers, but Mehring is taking exception to her leadership of the force... "Her intent is to be noble," Mehring said Friday morning. "She is way too far black and white and you cannot run a 300 person department without discretion and consideration. [Full article here]"

Earlier article:

Mehring previously accused of threatening estranged spouse
The Spokesman-Review
Bill Morlin
October 3, 2008
The estranged wife of Spokane police Detective Jay Mehring was as shocked as anyone last year when her husband of 18 years was arrested on a felony harassment charge and placed on unpaid leave, a Superior Court jury was told Thursday... The defense attorney told the jury Lisa Mehring wasn't fearful of her husband and didn't want him arrested or his job jeopardized in March 2007 but wanted him to finalize financial details of their marriage dissolution. "Her greatest fear was he was going to hurt himself," [Mehring attorney Chris] Bugbee said. Lisa Mehring signed a protection order prepared by her attorney, Bugbee said, "but she didn't read a word of it."... Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Lindsey opened with a starkly different version. His opening words to the jury: "I'll destroy you. I'll burn the house down with you in it." The prosecutor said Mehring terrified his wife with those words in March 2007 after she discovered a $20,000 discrepancy and froze a financial account shared by the couple, five months into their messy divorce... "She believed that threat, and she was scared," he told the jury... [Full article here]

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