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Tag: Washington

Judges Tosses Retaliation Lawsuit by ATF Agent Who Previously Settled Complaint Over Supervisor with Nazi Tattoo

Former ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge tossed a lawsuit filed by a Black former ATF supervisor in Seattle who claimed she was smeared and retaliated against after she settled a previous lawsuit against the agency. 

Cheryl Bishop, the first woman to serve on the ATF’s Special Response Team, received a $450,000 settlement more than two years ago in a lawsuit in which she alleged the ATF scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Bradley Devlin, who served as the resident agent in charge of the Eugene, and complained about a Nazi-themed tattoo on his arm. Devlin denied being abusive and said he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio. Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

In the latest suit, U.S. District Chief Judge Ricardo Martinez said Bishop failed to demonstrate that she was retaliated against, saying there was no adverse impact on her job, The Seattle Times reports.

Bishop plans to appeal.

Washington Man Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Shooting at ATF Agents

By Steve Neavling

A Washington man who fired a shotgun at four ATF agents has been sentenced to 35 years in prison, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Patrick Elliott Pearson, 49, of Moses Lake, was convicted by a jury of assaulting the agents, engaging in a drug conspiracy, discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

Pearson was accused of running a meth and heroin ring in greater Grant County and Yakima areas from 2015 to 2019. 

When ATF agents, Grant County detectives and local police officers descended on Pearson’s compound on the morning of July 16, 2019 to serve search and arrest warrants, Pearson, from inside his trailer, repeatedly shot at agents from the ATF’s Special Response Team. 

Unable to see if anyone else was inside the trailer, ATF agents didn’t fire back. 

Pearson tried to take his own life by turning the shotgun on himself and was life-flighted to Spokane for medical treatment. 

“No one can be allowed to shoot at law enforcement. Numerous brave ATF agents went to Mr. Pearson’s trailer that morning to do their jobs by executing a lawful court order and serving a valid arrest warrant,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref said in a statement. “Thanks to Mr. Pearson’s poor aim, this community has not had to endure the potential tragedy of fallen ATF officers. Today’s sentence sends a clear warning to anyone who thinks they can shoot their way out of an arrest and get away with it – they cannot. If they try, the United States Attorney’s Office will work with its federal, state, and local partners to investigate and prosecute them to the fullest extent provided by law. When Mr. Pearson saw on his video screens that ATF was present with a warrant, he simply had to surrender to avoid the most serious charges in this case. Instead, with reckless disregard for human life, he tried to hurt or kill a number of agents.”

Jonathan T. McPherson, special agent in charge of the ATF Seattle Field Division, added, “The actions of the ATF Special Agents and officers from our partner agencies that day are truly commendable. They acted with high regard not only for the safety of the surrounding community, but also for Mr. Pearson, despite the fact that he was shooting at our Special Response Team. We are thankful none of our Special Agents were injured and that Mr. Pearson will serve a significant sentence.”

Two Men Indicted in Shooting of ATF Agent in Spokane

By Steve Neavling

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted two men for their alleged involvement in the shooting of an ATF agent at a Spokane motel earlier this month.

The agent was briefly hospitalized and is expected to make a full recovery following the Nov. 6 shooting in a parking lot of a Motel 6. 

Randy Holmes, 24, was charged with three counts, including assaulting an ATF agent with a deadly weapon, The Spokesman-Review reports. He’s accused of exchanging gunfire with the agent. Because of a previous felony conviction, he was not permitted to possess a firearm, prosecutors said. 

Holmes faces up to 30 years in prison, if convicted. 

Vincent Petrushkin, 35, is accused of fleeing the scene with Holmes. He was charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

Both men are in the Spokane County Jail. 

The shooting occurred while the ATF was conducting an undercover investigation. 

ATF Agent Recovers from Shooting As Police Search for Two Suspects

By Steve Neavling

Police are on the hunt for two suspects after an ATF agent was wounded in a shootout near downtown Spokane on Friday.

The unidentified agent has been released from the hospital.

The shooting occurred in a Motel 6 parking lot west of downtown Spokane. ATF agents exchanged gunfire with several suspects, the Associated Press reports.

One of the three suspects was wounded and taken to a hospital, where his condition is unknown. 

Meanwhile, Spokane Police SWAT officers and other law enforcement are searching for the two other suspects, who fled after the shootout. 

Libyan-Born Comedian Awarded $35,000 in Lawsuit over Interaction with Border Patrol

Comedian Mohanad Elshieky. Photo: Twitter

By Steve Neavling

A Libyan-born comedian who says he was racially profiled and illegally detained by Border Patrol agents after a stand-up show in 2019 was awarded a $35,000 settlement from the federal government.

Mohanad Elshieky, who was granted asylum in 2018, filed suit after agents pulled him off a Greyhound bus in Spokane, Wash., and falsely accused him of being in the country illegally. His tweets about the ordeal went viral.

“I explained to them that I was granted Asylum here in the United States,” Elshieky tweeted, “and that the work permit they currently hold and the license are impossible to get unless your presence here is legal. They told me that I was lying and these could pretty much be falsified.”

In a settlement with the federal government, Elshieky will receive $35,000, according to the Northwest Immigration Rights Project.

“To have the same government that is supposed to protect me accuse me of lying and being here illegally really shook me and undermined my hard-fought sense of safety,” Elshieky said in a statement. “I’ll never forget the harassment and humiliation by the officers when it was clear I belonged in the United States and on that bus. I hope my experience can at least be a wake-up call for others, and a lesson for CBP and its agents to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and to honor their rights.”

Washington Man Arrested for Allegedly Pointing Laser at CBP Agents in Helicopter

FAA illustration of a laser pointed at an aircraft.

By Steve Neavling

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent sought medical attention after he was struck in the eye last week by a laser pointer while flying a helicopter in Washington state. 

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ronald Gregory Boettcher, 34, on a charge of first-degree unlawful discharge of a laser on Wednesday, The Belligham Herald reports.

Two CBP agents were in the helicopter when they said a laser was aimed into the cockpit. The helicopter was performing training approaches at Bellingham International Airport. 

Deputies responded to a report of the incident and talked to a neighbor who said the laser had come from a backyard where Boettcher lives, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deb Slater said in an email. 

Boettcher denied involvement and said he didn’t possess a laser. Deputies later found one at the home, Slater said. 

Laser illumination incidents have been on the rise, with 6,852 reported in 2020, according to lasersafety.com. That’s up from 6,213 in 2019 and 5,663 in 2018. 

CBP Officer Under Investigation for Allegedly Smuggling Drugs into Prison

Photo via Border Patrol

A CBP officer is accused of sneaking drugs into a Washington State prison for her boyfriend, a gang member who was convicted of murder. 

The FBI is investigating Officer Melissa Mesa on allegations she smuggled methamphetamine and suboxone into into the Clallam Bay Corrections Center, The Daily Beat reports, citing an FBI search warrant application.

The drugs were allegedly for Say Keodara, who was sentenced in 2011 to 69 years in the shooting death of a homeless man during a botched robbery attempt at a Seattle bus stop. 

A CBP spokesperson said Mesa is no longer working at the agency. 

“Melissa Mesa’s employment with CBP has been terminated. CBP stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission, and the overwhelming majority of CBP officers/agents perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly every day to keep our country safe,” the spokesperson said. “CBP fully cooperates with all criminal and administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, whether it occurs on or off duty. The investigation is ongoing and we have nothing further to add at this time.”

A confidential source tipped off state investigators about Mesa in May 2020. Correctional officials informed the FBI after learning that Keodara and Mesa were romantically involved. 

“During their relationship, Keodara asked Mesa to meet with individuals in the community in order to obtain illegal drugs and illegally obtained prescription drugs for the purpose of passing the drugs to others for introduction into CBCC,” the warrant application states. “Keodara also asked Mesa to conduct financial transactions on his behalf in furtherance of the drug conspiracy.”

Mesa has not yet been charged. The case is still under investigation. 

Man Who ‘Worshipped’ Trump Pleads Guilty After Threatening Secret Service Agents with a Sword

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A Washington State man who threatened Secret Service agents with a sword in West Virginia has pleaded guilty to assault.

Joshua Wills, 31, of Bremerton, Washington, told a judge he was driving to Washington D.C. to see President Trump when he was confronted by Secret Service agents, who had received reports that he was in possession of a katana sword, The Associated Press reports.

When three Secret Service agents went to a campground where Wills had gone to spend the night in October 2018, “Wills pulled out his sword and brandished it at us,” Secret Service Agent Thomas Fleming said in a criminal complaint.

“Officers fired two non-lethal shotgun rounds to incapacitate Wills and he was wrestled to the ground,” Fleming said.

Wills’ father told Secret Service agents that his son had “worshipped” Trump and meant no harm. He planned to deliver unknown evidence to the president and stand outside the White House gate with a sword.

“One sure fire way not to see the President of the United States is to brandish a weapon and threaten the safety of local and federal officials,” U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart said.

Wills could be ordered to spend up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 9.