Local Cop Forces his 11-Year Old Stepdaughter to Confess to Murder

Wow – just fucking wow. The second article is about white supremacists in Vancouver, WA related to this story.

- Anonaminita

From The Columbian. By Laura McVicker:

Violations found in death of Clark County deputy’s son: Report looks at treatment of man’s stepdaughter, 11

A Clark County sheriff’s deputy violated policies on firearms storage, off-duty conduct, ethics, competency and employee responsibilities in connection with the 2010 shooting death of his 3-year-old son, according to an internal affairs investigation.

Responding to a public disclosure request, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office and sheriff’s office released on Friday more than 150 pages of police reports and internal affairs documents relating to Detective Ed Owens, a 7-year veteran of the sheriff’s office.

Owens’ son Ryan fatally shot himself while playing with his father’s gun Sept. 14, 2010, at the family’s Battle Ground home.

Most of the allegations relate to Owens’ behavior following the shooting. Reports say he blamed his 11-year-old stepdaughter for the death — even though evidence clearly showed it was accidental — and coerced a false confession from her.

“His selfish, shameful, and cowardly behavior has left an indelible mark on our agency and has raised serious doubts about his credibility, judgment, truthfulness and fitness for duty — in addition to the policy violations that I have recommended to be sustained,” Sgt. John Horch wrote in the internal affairs investigation, completed Sept. 2, 2011.

Owens has been on paid administrative leave since Dec. 28, 2010. His pay during that time wasn’t available, but a county website reporting salaries indicates full-time deputies at his level make between $52,800 and $61,800 a year.

A final decision on his employment or any discipline has not been decided. Messages to Sheriff Garry Lucas and his chief deputy, Mike Evans — who were both out of town Friday — were not returned as of press time.

Owens’ Portland attorney, Steve Myers, however, said the internal affairs report isn’t an accurate depiction of what happened. He said his client denies the allegations.

“There was no tampering with a witness. There was no criminal conduct,” Myers said. “The characterization of a coerced confession is preposterous.”

Owens and his wife were the subject of a criminal investigation for nearly a year. But prosecutors declined this fall to try the deputy because it was in Multnomah County, Ore., where he allegedly coerced his daughter, when Owens and his wife were driving the girl to the airport about a month after the shooting.

“In review of the evidence in the case, the charges we were looking at were witness-tampering allegations,” Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik said Friday. “Because of jurisdiction, we didn’t feel we had” sufficient evidence that a crime occurred in Clark County.

The case was referred to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. A deputy district attorney there declined to press charges on either Owens or his wife. A call to the spokesman for that DA’s office was not returned Friday.

As for the death of Owens’ son, Golik said: “The shooting itself clearly was a tragic accident.”

Malfunctioning safe

According to police reports, the night of the shooting, the stepdaughter was watching the 3-year-old in the Owenses’ upstairs master bedroom, as her parents were in the garage studying for college classes. The stepdaughter was lying on the bed with the boy, and she fell asleep. The boy wandered into the closet, where the gun safe was located, opened the safe and picked up a loaded Kel-Tec pistol. The girl was wakened by a loud pop.

Injured by a gunshot to the head, Ryan Owens was rushed to the hospital. He died several hours later.

In the ensuing investigation, detectives discovered that the gun safe had malfunctioned, sometimes not locking when it should, and that Owens and his wife knew it wasn’t working properly, according to police reports. Owens explained that he kept loaded guns in his house to protect his family after receiving a death threat from Zachary Beck, a white supremacist suspect whom Owens had investigated.

A neighbor told police he overheard Owens say on the night of the shooting that he thought the safe had perhaps been unlocked for three days, according to police reports. However, during his internal affairs interview, Owens denied knowing the safe had malfunctioned.

He was found by internal affairs investigators to have violated the code of proper firearms storage.

Coercion allegations

Following the shooting, detectives said in police reports, Owens and his wife persistently blamed the shooting on the 11-year-old. Reports said they thought she had opened the safe for the boy. They also thought she was showing signs of suicide and homicidal violence.

However, other friends and doctors concluded she was a normal child experiencing grief from her brother’s death and isolation from her family.

Owens, according to reports, had the girl admitted to a hospital for treatment of mental illness following the shooting. With the intervention of the state’s Child Protective Services, the girl was released days later to stay with her great-grandmother in Vancouver. Then, the family planned for her to go to live with her father in Southern California.

On Oct. 27, 2010, Owens and his wife drove the girl to the airport. On the way there, they pulled the car over and ordered her to tell them what happened the night of the shooting, according to police reports. When she explained she fell asleep, Owens reportedly called her a (expletive) liar.

Owens’ wife allegedly slapped the girl and made threats that she would be hit with a belt if she didn’t confess, according to police reports. “Ed, give me your belt,” the woman said, according to police reports. Owens handed over his belt, though he later told investigators he didn’t know why she wanted it.

After the stepdaughter wouldn’t change her story, Owen’s wife then took the girl to a fast-food restaurant’s restroom. The two returned 45 minutes later, Owens said, and got back in the car. The girl then agreed to admit that she opened the safe. Owen’s wife recorded the alleged confession on her cellphone, according to the internal affairs investigation. The Owenses later gave investigators the tape as new evidence, but the investigators said they could tell the tape had been doctored.

Owens was reprimanded in the internal affairs investigation for not stepping in when his wife allegedly made threats against the girl, whose name was redacted from the report.

“Deputy Owens took an oath as a police officer to protect the innocent and to safeguard lives and property,” Horch wrote in the internal affairs report. “To the contrary, he did not safeguard (his stepdaughter), and was an active participant in the deception and intimidation against (his stepdaughter).”

As for Owens’ other code violations, internal affairs investigators reported that he violated off-duty conduct and code of ethics by “actively participating and allowing the acts of deception, oppression and intimidation against” his stepdaughter. Investigators concluded he violated the code of competency for believing his stepdaughter was guilty despite evidence that it was an accidental shooting.

Finally, Owens was found to have violated employee responsibilities by not being “forthcoming with all information and knowingly misrepresented material facts related to his actions,” according to the report.

“The full reasons may never be known, but whatever they are, Deputy Owens decided to make (his stepdaughter) a scapegoat … for this tragic accident, and there is a high probability that his actions will have a long-term effect on (his stepdaughter’s) mental health,” Horch wrote in the report.

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From the Columbian. by John Branton. Sept 2, 2011:

White supremacist who, with two others, attacked lone black man is sentenced: Zachary Beck gets 51 months in federal prison

In January 2010, Zachary Beck and two other white supremacists attacked a black man in a downtown Vancouver sports bar, yelling, “White Power!” “You’re dead!” and racist slurs.

On Friday, Beck learned the consequences of hate and civil-rights crimes: U.S. District Court in Tacoma sentenced him to 51 months’ prison, according the Justice Department.

“Fortunately, the victim was not badly injured,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan. “Others came to his aid, and together they were able to fend off the hateful attack. Hate crimes affect not just the victim; they corrode communities and send a message of fear to everyone who is labeled by the same prejudices.”

After Beck’s release, he will serve three years’ supervised release. During that time, if he commits more violations he can be returned to prison.

The Justice Department and The Columbian’s files say Beck, 32, was in a bar at 115 E. Seventh St. when he saw the black man socializing with white friends and told the bartender twice that the lone black man “had to leave” or there would be trouble. The black man, whose name hasn’t been released, stayed, and Beck went outside and discussed attacking him with Kory Boyd, a Vancouver skinhead and self-described white supremacist, and a third white supremacist, Lawrence Silk.

Yelling death threats and racial slurs, the three went inside and attacked the black man, shouting that he shouldn’t be kissing white women. They also threatened to stab him.

The African-American man defended himself by blocking Beck’s punch and grabbing him in a headlock. Meanwhile, Boyd and Silk threw bottles at the black man until a friend of the victim’s intervened.

When the black man released Beck, the attackers fled, shouting more racial slurs and threatening to return. The victim followed and pursued them while calling 911.

The victim suffered injuries including a cut arm, bruising on his forearms and a sore chin, officials said.

Vancouver police apprehended Silk and investigated, as did the FBI. Federal authorities arrested and charged Beck and Boyd in August 2010.

Beck was convicted in June of conspiring to violate civil rights, forcefully interfering with his victim’s civil rights and witness-tampering for asking an ex-girlfriend to provide an alibi for the night of the attack, according to Columbian files.

“The Department of Justice is committed to aggressively prosecuting hate-fueled acts of violence,” said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “Today’s sentence makes clear that racially motivated attacks will not be tolerated in this country.”

Silk pleaded guilty to state malicious harassment charges and received a two-year sentence. Boyd pleaded guilty to a federal hate-crime charge and was sentenced in January to 34 months.

All three attackers have associated with white-supremacist groups, officials have said.

In 2003, Beck ran unsuccessfully for city council in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, “under the Aryan Nations banner,” the Justice Department said. That year, he was also accused of punching a man in a parking lot after asking if he was Mexican, according to The Columbian’s files.

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