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Posts Tagged ‘Off-Duty Police’

From the movie Righteous Kill the tag line is “There’s Nothing Wrong With A Little Shooting As Long As the Right People Get Shot“…sure that’s Hollywood, but it seems this could be applied to the law enforcement investigation of Seattle Detective Ron Smith whose felony assault charges for shooting a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club in Sturgis were dismissed yesterday.

Dropped because as Jesse Sondreal (Meade County State Attorney) states:

“the investigation that I have reviewed indicates he (Smith) was assaulted and it was premeditated.”  The investigation established that Detective Smith was defending himself from a violent pre-meditated attack and he responded in a manner which was neither excessive nor unreasonable under the circumstances.

DeNiro Target Range

DeNiro Target Range

While the case illustrates reserving final judgment until all facts are examined it leaves some unanswered questions about how much, if any, the Sturgis incident was influenced by Smith’s testimony in a Hell’s Angel federal racketeering and murder trial in Seattle last year which sent several former and current members of the motorcycle “club” to prison ranging from seven years to life without parole. Or how much the decision to dismiss the assault charges were based on the lack of cooperation of the HAMC who wouldn’t testify before the grand jury?

The Seattle Times (Jennifer Sullivan) reports HERE that Court records and police testimony indicate Smith has clashed with another Hells Angel back in 2005.  Authorities filed charges alleging that Anthony James Magnesi, a member of the Washington Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels, had threatened Smith over the phone.  The end result from an internal investigation dismissed misdemeanor charges filed against Magnesi and Smith was referred to his supervisor for a training issue.  Much more on the Magnesi clashes HERE.

Detective Smith will return to full active duty (he was on administrative leave pending results) and obviously the Seattle Police Officers Guild is happy with the outcome and issued a press release HERE.

For more background information look at:

  1. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Iron Pigs Ride The Northwest
  2. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | When Iron Pigs Fly
  3. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Sturgis Ends With First Shooting In 20 Years
  4. NEW – Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Behind The Scenes Of The Sturgis Shooting
  5. NEW – Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Cash Is The Icing On Iron Pigs HR218 Cupcake

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit conflicted and feeling this outcome is anti-climatic.  Does this mean the Iron Pigs won’t return to Sturgis next year?  Can the motorcycle events industry afford yet another motorcycle “club” clash?

Operator, I need Mr. Happy.  Now!

Update: November 18, 2008 – Weapons charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: May 7, 2010 – Detective Ronald Smith has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  Even though all charges were dropped the suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.  This was an embarrassment and the lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed.

Photo courtesy of the movie Righteous Kill web site.

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Only a few weeks of summer remain and just when it seemed the outlaw motorcycle club “news” would subside, along comes the recent shooting of a Hell’s Angels member by an off-duty police officer.   The Sturgis shooting raised questions for me about who is this motorcycle club that confronted the HAMC?  So I did some research on the motorcycle club.

The Iron Pigs M/C is a name unfamiliar with motorcyclists in Oregon because the club does not list any chapters in the state. Many of them are cops, though they dress as bikers and as off-duty law enforcement officers they are free to show tattoos their uniforms would otherwise hide.

The club has roots back to the late ‘80s (see footnote at bottom of page) and it has chapters in twenty-two states.  The club is open to all law enforcement and firefighters who ride American-made V-Twin motorcycles.

From the Iron Pigs M/C web site it states:

The Seattle Chapter of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club really began back in 1995 in the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. A small group of cops and firefighters who rode together learned of the Wild Pigs Motorcycle Club. They chartered a chapter, the first, and what would be the only one in Washington State: The Kennewick Chapter.

They rode together for many years growing to approximately 10 members. In 1999 a cop from Seattle found out about the club while in Sturgis. When he returned to Seattle he contacted the Kennewick Chapter President, who eventually sponsored him for membership; he joined the Chapter in March of 2000, and after a period as a prospect, was patched in, September, 2000.

By this time there was a great deal of interest in the chapter and several more members, mostly from the Spokane area, joined and began to prospect. This brought the chapter membership to somewhere over 20.

In the first week of October, 2000 the proverbial shit hit the fan. A trademark dispute over the “Wild Pigs M/C” name and logo, which had apparently been underway since approximately 1993, came to a head, and two members, who had surreptitiously undertaken to acquire the rights to the trademark, were awarded the rights to the Wild Pigs M/C name and logo.

Unfortunately, those in charge at the time, who should have protected the trademark for the club, failed to do so, but in all fairness, you know what they say about hindsight.

At that point the club had grown to an estimated 80 chapters in the US and Canada, and 1600 or so members. Most of the chapters, and members chose to leave the Wild Pigs MC, most with a feeling of betrayal by two of our own, not to mention others who should have known better.

The members of the various chapters made an attempt to remain one club, but unfortunately some were not content to allow a peaceful process to proceed, while others had their own political agendas, which resulted in the split up of he membership.

The Washington chapter continued to have meetings, and found it difficult to make a decision one way or another. In the Spring of 2001 the Chapter voted on one item in particular, to try our best to stay together as a chapter.

In August, 2001 the chapter met for the annual Elk City run in Idaho. It was a great event as usual, and things were looking up. A meeting was held and the consensus was that the majority seemed inclined to join with the Iron Pigs M/C, but would also obtain information from the Renegade Pigs M/C, and the Warthogs M/C, and would meet for a vote in October.

In October, what would be the last meeting of the Wild Pigs M/C Washington was held in Ellensburg, WA. It became clear that there could be no majority vote, so the chapter members conducted a friendly split into those who wanted to join with the Renegade Pigs MC, and those who wanted to join with the Iron Pigs MC. A few others had already chosen to start their own thing in the Tri-Cities and are our brothers known as the Wild Reapers M/C, and one member joined our brothers and sisters in the Iron Warriors M/C.

Some of us former Wild Pigs from the Seattle area, who chose to join the Iron Pigs M/C, hooked up with two of our brothers from the Seattle PD who had begun the process to form an Iron Pigs M/C chapter in western Washingtion, and together formed the Seattle Chapter of the Iron Pigs M/C, the best damn M/C around.

We are looking forward to a very bright future. Within the various pages that you’ll find on this site you’ll see some references to some of the clubs as, “OWP,” this reference indicates that the particular chapter was founded by, Original Wild Pigs.

We’ll have to wait and see how all this play’s out.  But one thing is clear in that the Iron Pigs off-duty policeman did break a law by having his gun inside the bar. South Dakota statute disallows anyone to carry a concealed weapon into a licensed business for alcoholic beverages.

UPDATE: My reference point on firearm topic is from the Seattle Times who are reporting that according to South Dakota law, people with concealed-weapons permits cannot carry firearms into bars. Police officers are exempt from this rule if they have written permission from the county sheriff, according to the law. However, a federal law enacted in 2004 supersedes the state law, allowing off-duty law-enforcement officers to carry weapons anywhere they choose, but it requires that the weapons handler is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Update: September 5th – The Argus Leader is reporting that both men (McGuire (HAMC) and Smith (Iron Pigs)) are charged with alternative counts of aggravated and simple assault.  Smith was also charged with perjury.  In addition, misdemeanor gun charges were also brought against the four other fellow bikers with Smith (also part of the Iron Pigs): Scott Lazalde (Bellingham, WA); Dennis McCoy (Seattle, WA); Erik Pingel (Aurora, CO) and James Rector (Ferndale, WA).

Update: September 9th – The Seattle.pi is reporting that the perjury charge has been dismissed against Smith.  The grand jury indicted Smith last month on charges of aggravated assault, perjury and illegal possession of a concealed weapon.  Smith initially stated he was carrying his personal firearm, but the Seattle Police Department records contradicted him, showing that it was a department-issued gun.  This was the evidence that was presented which resulted in the perjury charge.

Update: September 17th – Aggravated assault charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: November 18, 2008 – Weapons charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: February 25, 2009 – In a plea agreement Joseph McGuire (HAMC) pleads no contest to simple assault (versus aggravated assault) and was sentenced to one year in the Meade County Jail.  According toRapid City Journal, McGuire’s sentence was suspended as long as he does not break the law.  No fines were imposed, but he can not attend this years rally.

Update: May 7, 2010 – Detective Ronald Smith has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  Even though all charges were dropped the suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.  This was an embarrassment and the lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed.

The club’s philosophy page describes the group as “the good guys, on the job and off” but it appears they didn’t handled this situation in a lawful manner.

Seattle Police Motorcycle photo courtesy of Flickr Photographer Slightly North.

Footnote: The Iron Warriors site provides more insight on the Wild Pigs M/C which spun out to today’s Iron Pig club.  Wild Pigs M/C was founded in June of 1987 in San Jose, California by a small posse of Deputy Sheriff’s within the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.  The motorcycle club was designed exclusively for active and/or retired law enforcement officers and firefighters with a select few associate members.

In 1994, two members of the San Jose chapter trademarked the club’s name and its logo for the purpose of franchising it. The action created a division of R and R enterprises and the Wild Pigs Motorcycle Club.

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