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Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Police’

Can embarrassment and personal demons be squelched with money?

It would seem so and that $169,800 is all that’s needed!

I’m referring to the Iron Pigs MC member and Seattle police detective Ronald Smith.

It probably comes as no surprise that Smith, who as you may recall shot a member of the Hells Angels MC in Sturgis a couple years ago has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  The suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.

Disregard that all charges were dropped and why let any of the facts get in the way when Mr. Smith sees dollar signs.  The only thing missing in this little drama is an attorney to throw in the proverbial race card and get the ACLU marching.

I’ve blogged about this incident HERE, HERE and HERE as well as provided a number of updates.  A brief recap is during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Smith, who was in Sturgis with members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club composed of LEO’s and firefighters shot and wounded a Hells Angels MC member, Joseph Patrick McGuire, in self-defense during a fight in the Loud American Roadhouse on Aug. 9, 2008. Smith was charged in Meade County, S.D., Circuit Court with the felonies of aggravated assault and perjury. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Now comes the pain and suffering.  Mr. Smith claims he was “guilty until proven innocent,” shunned and neglected.  Huh?  The lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed by the criminal charges and that shortly after the incident, the Seattle Police Chief at the time, Gil Kerlikowske said during a public-relations event that Smith was an “embarrassment” to the department and would “not be working for him much longer.”

That working for him part was absolutely correct!   Shortly after Mr. Kerlikowske became the “drug czar” or the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for Obama.  He is responsible for advising the president on drug control programs, and for coordinating drug policies among all federal agencies.

My point?  While the various bloggers have raged back and forth between supporters of the police to distrust of the police and the justice system…could someone, even the Seattle Police Chief please just apologize to Mr. Smith before he continues to take all of your hard earned tax dollars.

Photo courtesy Flickr and Iron Pigs MC.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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police_bikeAs you may recall the situation happened at the Roadhouse bar with four off duty, out-of-state law enforcement officers and a firefighter, all members of the Iron Pigs – a police motorcycle club – who get into a heated confrontation with some Hells Angels members on the last day of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  The confrontation ends when Ron Smith pulls his Glock 23 and shoots Joseph McGuire a HAMC member.

I blogged about the incident and posted several updates HERE, HERE and HERE.

Many readers weighed in with comments between support of the police to those who where very distrustful.  Some comments became derisive after the South Dakota court threw out the assault and weapons charges and then later dismissed all the indictments.

Recently Charles Remsberg, an author of three best-selling law enforcement training textbooks, and contributor to the PoliceOne site has posted an interesting “Behind The Scenes” recap of the shooting.  Part 2 of the report is HERE.  His report provides deeper insight into the minutes leading up to the shooting, the psyche of the various folks involved, the injuries and a bit of the grand jury transcript.  Granted Mr. Remsberg writes from a LEO point of view, but does so after nearly three decades of work where he earned the prestigious O.W. Wilson Award for outstanding contributions to law enforcement and the American Police Hall of Fame Honor Award for distinguished achievement in public service.

To be fair, and after reading Remsberg’s report some of my initial implications were inaccurate.  However, I do think my overall assessment was correct, at least based on the information that was released at the time.

At any rate check out the good report and you be the judge.

UPDATED: January 28, 2009 – Part 2 of the report HERE.

UPDATED: 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 to Rapid 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.

UPDATED: 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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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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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Flying Pigs

Flying Pigs

“When pigs fly”…is an idiom or a popular saying used to indicate that something will never happen.  So, when will the “Law Enforcement” spin stop on this Sturgis shooting?  No time soon it would seem…

The Seattle Times is reporting that the off-duty police officer who shot Hells Angel member Joseph Patrick McGuire (33, of Imperial Beach, Ca.) at the Loud American Roadhouse in Sturgis was forced to open fire after being attacked and pinned to the floor by up to three members of the outlaw motorcycle gang.

The Rapid City Journal identified the Seattle police officer as Ronald Smith (43, of Seattle, WA). He is assigned to the departments pawnshop unit.  In grand-jury investigation statements he said:

The detective said one Hells Angel member “got in my face” and began an argument.  “I was cold-cocked on the left side of my face by at least one, if not three, Hells Angels,”…”I woke up on the ground pinned against a bar stool by a Hells Angel in a red bandanna,”…”I was receiving fists and feet from the top during this.”… “I tried to wriggle free, but didn’t have any leverage.”…”The Hells Angel in the bandanna tried to grab my gun just as another man was choking me… “I then pulled the handgun from my hip and opened fire.”

According to the newspaper, 25 people testified during the seven-hour court hearing.  No arrests have been made and the investigation could continue until the grand jury reconvenes on Aug. 27th.

Not everything is as tranquil as they would want us to believe…new information has been released on the detective involved in the Sturgis shooting has twice been investigated by the department of Office of Professional Accountability, a civilian police-oversight group, during his 15 years on the force. Both complaints were confirmed by the group.  One investigation stemmed from a verbal argument he got into with a Seahawk fan while working an off-duty assignment at Qwest Field in 2004. He also got into an argument inside a Pierce County restaurant in 2005 with a restaurant employee who was taunting and threatening him and his then-fiancée.  He received a two-day suspension for the incident with the Seahawk fan and a written reprimand for the other incident.

I’ve received a number of questions about whether it was legal for Smith to have a gun on him in the Loud American Roadhouse, because he was off duty at the time.  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, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (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 not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

So let the spin continue as nothing has been reported about sobriety tests conducted after the shooting…

Update:  August 14th – Seattle PI is reporting that Hells Angel member Joseph Patrick McGuire was arrested Jan. 18, 2007, as part of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego Police Department. Police served warrants on two San Diego-area homes that belonged to the president of the Hells Angels’ local chapter.  McGuire is the chapter treasurer and was arrested at one of the homes in Pacific Beach, Calif. Police seized a pound and a half of marijuana, in addition to hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, and $5,000 in cash.  The San Diego chapter president and vice president were charged in separate cases in the investigation.  McGuire was released on bond and scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Aug 20 in San Diego County Superior Court, with his trial set for September.  He was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and two counts of illegal possession of narcotics.

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 – All 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 to Rapid 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.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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The Seattle PI reported yesterday that an off-duty Seattle police officer attending the Sturgis Rally was detained in a shooting that left a Hells Angels MC member injured early Saturday morning.  UPDATE: Sturgis Police identified the Hells Angels member as 33 year old Joseph McGuire of Imperial Beach, CA. The police officer is a member of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle club which is open to all law enforcement and firefighters who own and ride a V-Twin.

The confrontation happened on Main Street about 1 a.m. at the Loud American Roadhouse between the Hell’s Angels and members of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle club.  It included five other Seattle law enforcement members and the Seattle Police Department has

“All five officers placed on administrative reassignment (relieved of duty) pending further investigation by the South Dakota authorities.”

Loud American Roadhouse, Sturgis

Loud American Roadhouse, Sturgis

It was reported that as many as 500 people were inside the club when officers from several agencies converged on the bar, evacuating patrons and securing the club.  Dean Kinney, one of the bar’s owners, told the Rapid City Journal in Rapid City, S.D., that workers at the bar noticed several Hell’s Angels gathering in and outside the bar, and actually called police prior to the shooting as a precaution.

The Sturgis rally has a reputation, but Saturday’s shooting is the first to take place during the rally in nearly 20 years.

An unfortunate way to end the rally. I plan to follow this story and watch if the “spin” machine goes into overdrive!

Update #1: more background on the Iron Pigs M/C HERE.

Update #2: Sturgis Police identified the Hells Angels member as 33 year old Joseph McGuire of Imperial Beach, CA.  Police are not releasing the Seattle Policeman name out of fears of his safety.

Update #3: The Rapid City Journal identified the Seattle police officer as Ronald Smith (43, of Seattle, WA). More info posted HERE.

Update #4: August 14th – Seattle PI is reporting that Hells Angel member Joseph Patrick McGuire was arrested Jan. 18, 2007, as part of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego Police Department. Police served warrants on two San Diego-area homes that belonged to the president of the Hells Angels’ local chapter.  McGuire is the chapter treasurer and was arrested at one of the homes in Pacific Beach, Calif. Police seized a pound and a half of marijuana, in addition to hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, and $5,000 in cash.  The San Diego chapter president and vice president were charged in a separate cases in the investigation.  McGuire was released on bond and scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Aug 20 in San Diego County Superior Court, with his trial set for September.  He was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and two counts of illegal possession of narcotics.

Update #5: August 15, 2008 – Seattle Times is reporting that Smith testified against the HAMC in a high-profile racketeering and murder case last year.  His testimony was characterized as “pretty periphery” to the case, however, suggestions were hinted that the Sturgis confrontation could be linked.

Update #6: September 5, 2008: 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 #7: September 9, 2008 – 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 #8: September 17, 2008 – Aggravated assault charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: #9: November 18, 2008 – All weapons charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: #10: 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 to Rapid 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: #11: 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.

Iron Pigs M/C logo courtesy of web site and Loud American Roadhouse photo courtesy of Yan Soderlin / Rapid City Journal

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