PRESS RELEASE FROM SPOKANE INVESTIGATIVE REGIONAL RESPONSE TEAM: On Friday evening, October 19, 2012, two Stevens County Sheriff's Deputies responded to a residence near the area of Long Praire and Deer Creek Road on a suicidal call. When they arrived on scene they confronted 66-year-old John Peterson outside his residence holding a firearm.
Peterson was on the phone with Stevens County 911 operators when the two deputies arrived on scene. Stevens County Sheriff's Deputy Travis Frizzell and Reserve Deputy Nick Wolfe responded to the call.
Deputy Frizzell has been employed with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office for over five years and was previously employed with the Chewelah Police Department for three years. Reserve Deputy Wolfe has been employed with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office for eight months.
Deputy Frizzell and Wolfe identified themselves to Peterson immediately and Deputy Frizzell proceeded to give commands to Peterson. Peterson did not follow Deputy Frizzell's commands, turned towards Reserve Deputy Wolfe and pointed a firearm at him. Reserve Deputy Wolfe fired one round, fatally wounding Peterson.
The Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team is investigating the shooting. Once their investigation is complete, the case will be forwarded to the Stevens County Prosecutor's Office for review.
Statement by the family of John Peterson in response to SIRRT press release:
John Peterson, the elderly Vietnam veteran who was shot to death by a Stevens County reserve deputy last Friday night, deserves better than the rush to judgment being engaged in by the Spokane sheriff's office.
John called 911 because he was seeking help. Instead of helping John, a Stevens County reserve deputy with only eight months on the job shot him to death. The only two surviving witnesses are the shooter and his fellow deputy.
Investigation of officer-related killings is governed by written rules. Those rules clearly state that if an officer shoots someone, any officer who witnessed the shooting should be segregated from the shooter, and as soon as possible the witnessing officer should interviewed on tape about what happened.
The Spokane sheriff's office did not follow its own rules. Instead they allowed both the shooter, and the witnessing deputy, to go home. They waited for three-and-a-half days before bringing the two deputies in for recorded interviews.
Because the Spokane sheriff's office failed to follow its own rules, John Peterson's family has serious doubts about the integrity of the investigation.
In fact, late Wednesday John's family met with the Spokane sheriff's office for more than an hour. They assured us that the investigation was still in its early stages and they didn't know yet what happened. It's now apparent that the Spokane sheriff's office was being less than truthful with us.
There are many unanswered questions in this case. For example, if the reserve deputy was truly being threatened by John, why didn't the senior deputy fire his weapon?
The family of John Peterson is not going to stand by while the Spokane sheriff's office disregards its own rules and engages in a rush to judgment. We will undertake our own investigation, and we won't stop until we know the truth.