The Seattle Times has written the first of a two-part story about the Ostling shooting and the Bainbridge Island Police Department. The Times article has some new detail about the case, gleaned from public records, depositions and conversations with the Ostling family.
Go here to read part one.
Update 2/27/12: Part two is on the Times’ website here. It focuses primarily on the hiring of Charles Arntz and the conduct of former police guild president Scott Weiss. (Sidebar—Who did that reporter talk to? “Mayberry with Audis”? What islander has ever said that? Priuses maybe. Mayberry, never. We’re not that friendly.)
Information that is significantly unfavorable to the police department emerges in the stories. On the other hand, the coverage of the Ostling shooting seems somewhat slanted toward the Ostling family’s version of events. Photographs and other details that were reported in our local press (here and here) were not reported by the Times. Also not mentioned is that an Ostling family member’s statements taken by a sheriff’s investigator at the scene differ from subsequent accounts by the family (reported by the Kitsap Sun). That changing statement was of enough significance to Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge that he mentioned it in a letter, in which he defended his decision not to prosecute the officers for the shooting.
Whatever the facts of the Ostling case, broader issues about police conduct remain. The controversies with the police department, questions about hiring, discipline and accountability (and related concerns about the role of the Civil Service Commission in hiring and disclipline), as well as the role the police guild plays in shielding officers from disciplinary efforts, continue to plague our community.
Over the weekend, two people have posted police-related comments on other articles on this blog. I am re-posting them here, as it is clear people have things to say about these problems. I’m not so much interested in re-hashing Ostling–none of us have the personal knowledge to add anything to what has already been reported. But the issue of police accountability and procedure is worth more questions, and more thought. Fee free to comment—respectfully!