Tri-Cities Face Mask Makers celebrate 30,000 masks

Cassandra “Cassie” Oakes, founder of Tri-Cities Face Mask Makers, models a mask.

In the last 8 months, Tri-Cities Mask Makers made 30,000 masks for area hospitals, police departments, postal workers, firefighters, hospices, prisons, food banks and dozens of other groups.

According to the group’s founder, Cassandra “Cassie” Oakes of Richland, “We filled all of our orders and everywhere you look now there are masks for sale for a few dollars.”

Oakes, a stay-at-home mother of four boys, started the group in March when she read a Facebook post from a local doctor describing the need for face masks. Oakes said, “I could sew and the community needed masks, so I began making them and started the group.”

March seems like a century ago, but many of us can still remember when the coronavirus first started galloping through areas of Washington. Medical professionals appealed to people to save the diminishing supply of surgical masks and N95 respirators for health care workers on the front line.  They recommended that everyone else make their own masks.

When requests for masks came pouring in, Oakes set up a system so the group could fill them in order. She also organized teams of people for every task.

Volunteers included sewers, runners who delivered supplies to sewers and picked up and delivered finished masks, and cutters who cut the pieces from fabric for the sewers to stitch together.  The group even included elastic untanglers.

Oakes posted a picture on the group’s Facebook page of what looked like a bag full of spaghetti. She asked, “Do we have any takers on untangling this type of elastic & cutting it into 10-yd lengths for kits?”  Within minutes two people volunteered. 

Oakes could not estimate how many people volunteered with her group but eventually her Facebook page, Tri-Cities Face Mask Makers, had 1,500 members. 

Becky Holstein Pospical of Richland made 1,000 masks. Pospical said, “I had nurse friends who asked me to please make masks. At about that time this group popped up.”

“People did whatever they could,” Pospical added.  “My high school friend donated four bolts of fabric.”

“As someone who has sewed my whole life, I was happy to learn that there are others like me out there,” Pospical said.

Amy Hanson, also of Richland, decided that she was not a sewer. She recalls, “I made a few masks and decided – no way!”

Hanson became a runner because she said, “I know how to drive.” 

Hanson recalls, “One lovely lady set up ice coffee for me when I came over to pick up or deliver. I met a lot of happy, nice people.”

DeAnna Winterrose, another Richland volunteer, made almost 2,500 masks but she said, “I don’t deserve all the credit for those.”

“I had volunteer cutters. Their work and other supplies would miraculously arrive at my door. I had a continuous supply. All I had to do was put the word out,” she said.

Winterrose described how she became worried watching the beginning of the pandemic while in Hawaii. “When I returned to Washington, making masks helped take my mind off of it,” she said.

Winterrose also credits a friend at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories who volunteered to check fabrics for their filtration ability. “That way we knew our masks were actually protecting people.” 

Oakes coordinated all of these tasks while making masks herself and even doing training videos for eager volunteers. She said, “Everybody wanted to help in some way.” 

Oakes said that her management skills came from years of motherhood after a career in banking. “I tend to be organized,” she said.

As the group shuts down Oakes admits, “I am exhausted.”

She added, “It feels refreshing to be able to bring people together to do something for the community. Knowing there are so many good humans out there makes my heart happy.” 

Runner Jo Breneman of Richland praised Oakes, “The Tri-Cities Face Mask Makers was an incredible endeavor, and Cassie deserves all the kudos we can give her.”

Animal shelter plan gives Richland City Council sticker shock

Correction Oct. 21:  The price estimate given for the shelter was $550 a square foot not $850.  The city paid $400 a sq. ft. for the new city hall. Neither price includes the land.

Consultant David Robinson of Strategic Construction Management surprised the Richland City Council with a price of over $550 a sq. ft. for a new Tri-Cities animal shelter. 

Robinson recommended building the new shelter on the old site in Pasco.

Robinson estimated the total would be $4.8 to $5.8 million split between Richland, Kennewick and Pasco, the three cooperating jurisdictions.

City Manager Cindy Reents pointed out that the new city hall had cost $400 a square foot.

The City of Pasco has taken the lead in the planning of the new shelter. Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell and Pasco Administrative and Community Services Director Zach Ratkai attended the meeting to help explain the plan.

Councilmember Bob Thompson said, “We have sticker shock.  Can we find a grant?” 

Mayor Ryan Lukson asked, “Could we renovate a building at another location?  I’m looking for ways to reduce costs.”

Ratkai said, “We couldn’t find any other buildings that were compatible.”

Zabell added that he had looked at the shelter in Spokane that was built in an old Harley Davidson showroom.  According to Zabell, “It cost a lot of money but did not turn out to be the best facility.”

Councilmember Michael Alvarez said, “I like the plan but I think it is expensive.”

Councilmember Philip Lemley wanted to know, “With our exploding population, how long before we outgrow this shelter.”

Robinson replied that there was no way of knowing but a more attractive shelter would attract families who would adopt pets at a faster pace.

“Richland needs to work with Kennewick and Pasco to use a design-build contract to cut costs as much as possible and perhaps also involve Benton County. We all want a new animal shelter but we need to look for the most cost-effective way to build it.  We need to explore every option.”  Lukson concluded.

Escape Covid with a tiny town tour

“Wild Life” sculpture by Tom Otterness

Although Covid may have dashed your dreams of a cruise or some other bucket-list trip you had planned, you can still travel. In less than an hour, you can be in Connell.

The Observer highly recommends a walking tour of this tiny town of about 5,600.

In a telephone conversation Connell City Administrator Maria Pena told the Observer, “We are proud of Connell and particularly the art that you will find on our streets and trails.” She recommended the map from the town’s website.

So, grab your map and take highway 395 to northern Franklin County. 

You can stop at Country Mercantile about midway. The Mercantile has produce, both fresh and preserved, as well as a public restroom.

Exit at State Route 260, turn right at Columbia Ave., Connell’s main street. Start your tour at Franklin St. and N. Columbia Ave. 

In addition to the art, Columbia Ave. has a mix of historic, brick buildings constructed after a fire destroyed most of the town in 1905 and newer, mid-century buildings.

Four of Tom Otterness’s six bronze and cast concrete sculptures, “Wild Life” sit along the two blocks between Franklin St. and Borah St. As you walk, you will also see murals depicting local history painted by Pat Boyer.

An Otterness “Wild Life” sculpture. The duck has an ace behind his back.

One of Connell’s largest employers, the Washington Department of Corrections Coyote Ridge Corrections Center working with the State Arts Commission funded the statutes. Local businesses contributed to the Boyer murals.

Coyote Ridge, north of Connell, houses 2100 inmates and employs many of the local residents.

For lunch, both the Pizza Station at 238 N. Columbia Ave. and Papa Ray’s across the street at 245 N. Columbia have carry-out. 

Husband Bob and I enjoyed a delicious hamburger and fries from Papa Ray’s at the table with the Otterness train sculpture next to Connell City Hall and Police Department. According to Pena, “The table and sculpture sit just outside my office window.”

Pena encouraged visitors to have lunch at any of the tables with the sculptures.

Walk about five blocks south on Columbia Ave. to see the other two Otterness sculptures between Elm St. and Gum St.  

On the way to the sculptures, take a short side trip up W. Adams St. to see the 1904 Presbyterian Church which now houses the Connell Heritage Museum. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed.

Pena pointed out that along Highway 395, the city has installed a one-mile walking path that connects Gum Street and Clark Street. Tall steel flowers by Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle sit along the path. Coyote Ridge and the State Arts Commission also funded these.

Connell’s impressive public school complex fills several blocks on W. Clark.

Connell grew from sheep and cattle country to a railroad town after the golden spike joined the western branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad with the eastern branch at Gold Creek, Montana in 1883. Former President Ulysses S. Grant and other luminaries traveled to Montana to celebrate the achievement.

Wells provided the town with water but growth has always strained the supply. Dry land wheat has been the most important product through most of Connell’s history. 

State Sen. Sharon Brown’s 2005 postnuptial agreement earns her an exemption from financial disclosure.

State Sen. Sharon Brown

September 29, 2020

Editor’s note: This story is a little unusual because it involves a complaint that I made to the PDC following an article that I wrote in July.

Correction:  Sharon Brown received the second highest number of votes in the primary.

The Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) retroactively granted state Sen. Sharon Brown an exemption for her financial record due to her postnuptial agreement. 

Brown is currently running for a local judgeship.

The decision means that she did not violate state rules when she failed to report her then husband’s assets in 2015, 2016, 2017.  According to the PDC, the period prior to 2015 was beyond the statute of limitations for enforcement action.

“Incredulous,” said Benton County Democratic Chair Judith Johannesen when she learned of the decision.

Johannesen went on to say that if agreements between spouses can be used to avoid full disclosure, it frustrates the purpose of the reporting requirement.

The PDC requires that each year all candidates and elected officials submit financial information about themselves and their spouses as well as report campaign contributions and expenditures.

The reports give the public the opportunity to see if there are any conflicts of interest.

John Trumbo, a former reporter with the Tri-City Herald and a member of the Kennewick City Council, submitted a 50-page complaint to the PDC.

Trumbo listed 14 limited liability companies that belonged to Brown’s husband Fraser Hawley that Brown had not listed on her financial disclosure forms.

In its response the PDC explained the decision for the exemption.  

The commission writes that it can grant an exemption if compliance “causes a manifestly unreasonable hardship on the applicant and that granting the modification would not frustrate the purposes of the Act.”

Brown’s attorney, Mark Lamb of Bothell, Washington wrote the commission that Brown “was unable to fully disclose financial information related to her former spouse due to the restrictions of a postnuptial agreement signed in 2005.”

The commission wrote that it granted her the exemption, “therefore relieving her of the obligation of full disclosure.”

Brown married Hawley in 2004.  They divorced in Walla Walla County in 2018.

The complaint from the Observer addressed the $4 million that a business, partially owned by Brown and Hawley, owed Banner Bank.  Brown had signed as a guarantor on the loan according to court records

The Commission agreed with Lamb who argued that “the debt was not owed personally by Brown.”

In closing, the PDC finds, “no further action is warranted and has dismissed this matter.”

Brown has represented Washington’s Legislative District 9 since she was appointed in 2013.  She served on the Kennewick City Council from 2009 to 2013.

Brown’s senate term will expire in 2022. This year she filed to run for a judgeship on the Benton-Franklin Superior Court.  She received the second highest number of votes in the primary and advanced to the November general election.

My Hat is in the Ring

I am pleased to announce that I have applied to fill the vacancy on the Richland City Council, where, if appointed, I would focus on improving residents’ access to the Council. We need more opportunity for people to have their questions answered and their opinions heard. If you agree, please contact the Richland City Council to support my appointment: citycouncil@ci.richland.wa.us

As you know, I ran for Richland City Council in 2019 and received 7126 votes, 48%. Councilmember Brad Anderson recently resigned leaving an opening that the six remaining members of the council will vote to fill.  

The council intends to appoint someone to the job by October 6.  If appointed, my plan would be to put the TriCities Observer on hiatus to minimize distractions and focus on the council.  Rest assured, I would be doing my part to keep you all informed of what the city is doing, whether it is on this blog or not. 

Last year, the Tri-City Herald as well as the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Laborers’ Local 348, the UA Local 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters and the Teamsters Local 839 endorsed me.

In the city’s 60+ year history only 13 out of 72 city council members have been women. Only one serves now. I would work hard to bring the change that the city council needs.

In the meantime, for all blog posts related to the city of Richland until the selection is made, I will include a reference to my status as having applied for the council job, for purpose of full disclosure.

Richland City Council Determined to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Richland City Hall

Despite opposition from residents, on Tuesday Richland City Council will consider for a fourth time eliminating term limits for Boards and Commissions. Board members are now allowed to serve 12 years with the possibility of a one-term extension.

Councilmember Terry Christensen initiated the proposal, according to Mayor Ryan Lukson.

At the last meeting of the council on Aug. 17, for the third consideration of the matter, Mayor Lukson moved to remove it from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote. Only four of the six councilmembers were present: Lukson, Christensen, Councilmember Phil Lemley and Councilmember Sandra Kent. Councilmember Brad Anderson had resigned before the meeting began.

Only Kent voted “no” and said, “Twelve years plus the possibility of an additional extension is enough for anyone to serve.”

Since a majority of the council must approve the change, the elimination of term limits is once again on the consent calendar for Sept. 1. 

In a telephone conversation with the Observer, Councilmember Bob Thompson indicated that he supported the change to boards and commissions. There is no limit on council members’ terms. At the end of his current term, he will have served 27 years on the council. 

Residents can comment about the term limit change at the Tuesday, Sept. 1 meeting that begins at 6 p.m. Testifiers must fill out a form before 4 p.m. Tuesday and then call in before citizen comments begin.  The meeting is televised on Cable Channel 192 and streamed on City View   Residents can also email the city council at citycouncil@ci.richland.wa.us.

The council first voted to eliminate term limits in a first reading as part of the consent calendar at their March 17 meeting. All the items on the consent calendar are approved with one vote. 

Days later, Governor Jay Inslee shut down the state due to Covid-19 with instructions that local governments were only to consider essential business at meetings, since residents could not attend them. 

Nevertheless, the council scheduled a final vote for its April 7 meeting. After people objected, the item was pulled from the agenda. 

At the time Mayor Lukson said, “The council plans to bring up the term limit elimination proposal again when citizens can attend the city council meetings.”

Currently five members of the boards and commissions have served beyond their limit. Marianne Boring, the spouse of a member of the City of Richland Development office, has served the longest. When her terms are up, she will have been on the Planning Commission for 18 years and the Board of Adjustment for 20 years.

Richland City Councilmember Bob Thompson Pleads Guilty to Reckless Driving

After months of hearings and conferences regarding his charge of driving under the influence, Richland City Councilmember Bob Thompson pleaded guilty on July 21, 2020 to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

Washington State Patrolman James Stairet stopped Thompson for speeding at midnight on June 29, 2019, when Thompson was Richland’s mayor. Thompson’s eyes were “watery and bloodshot,” and Thompson held the driver’s side door for balance as he got out of his car, Stairet wrote in his report of the stop. Thompson declined to take a field sobriety test and said he wouldn’t complete a breath test, wrote Stairet, who then arrested Thompson.

Thompson, a lawyer, regularly defends clients who have been charged with DUI.

In a telephone conversation, Thompson likened his case to others. “As many as 75% of first offenders accept a plea agreement,” he said.

Thompson said he will lose his license for 30 days. “Probably September,” he said. 

But he’s not required to have an ignition interlock device, and a reckless driving conviction won’t prevent him from travelling to Canada, where he sometimes attends conferences to represent the city’s support for the Hanford cleanup.

According to the court docket, Thompson paid a $1,233.97 fine and completed both a victim impact panel and Alcohol Drug Information School. 

Thompson’s two-year, unmonitored probation requires that he not possess or consume alcoholic beverages, marijuana or controlled substances or drive without a valid license and proof of insurance.

He acknowledged a second incident could bring stiffer penalties. “If you’re dumb enough to have another similar incident, you’re in big trouble,” he said.

Councilmember Brad Anderson Resigns and the Richland City Council Votes to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Update Aug 19, 2020:  Last night the City Attorney Heather Kintzley advised Mayor Lukson that the vote of three members, a majority of those present, could pass a change in the term limits for boards and commissions.  However, Mayor Ryan Lukson emailed me this morning that she was wrong; a vote of four is required. According to Mayor Lukson, “Not sure if it will come up again but for now it is dead.”

Mayor Ryan Lukson began Tuesday night’s meeting by reading Councilmember Brad Anderson’s resignation letter. Anderson said that health issues required lifestyle changes that were not possible while holding down a fulltime job plus serving on the Council.   

Anderson has served on the Council since defeating incumbent Ed Revell in 2011. He ran unopposed in 2015 and defeated Shir Regev in 2019. 

The Council will pick a successor to Anderson from applicants. The appointed member will serve until the next election in 2021.

Later the council approved a Lukson motion to pull two items from the consent calendar for discussion and a separate vote, one to eliminate term limits for boards and commissions and the other to limit parking on Hains Ave.

Of the four members present only Councilmember Sandra Kent voted to maintain the term limits. She said, “We already have the ability to extend an appointment by one term beyond the 12-year limit.  I think that is long enough. We need to work harder to find qualified people.”

Terry Christensen who, according to Lukson, proposed the change said, “We need institutional knowledge that long-term committee members provide.”

Lukson and Councilmember Phil Lemley voted with Christensen to allow board and commission members to serve for an unlimited amount of terms. Councilmembers Robert Thompson, Michael Alvarez and Anderson were absent.

The other item would limit parking on Hains Ave. to one side of the street. The Councilmembers voted unanimously to postpone a decision on that until they had more information.

Despite Citizen Opposition, Richland City Council will Vote to Eliminate Term Limits for Boards and Commissions

Richland City Hall

After public outcry, the Richland City Council in April pulled its proposal to change a city ordinance to eliminate the 12-year term limit for members of city boards and commissions. Proponents said the proposal would make city policy conform with actual practice.

Back in April, Mayor Ryan Lukson said that the matter would be brought up again when citizens could “attend” the meeting.

However, the matter is once again on the agenda, even though citizens cannot currently attend meetings. The full text of the proposal appears on Page 80 of the city council packet.

Five members have served beyond the 12-year limit.   Marianne Boring, the spouse of a plans examiner in the City of Richland Development Office, has been a board member longer than the other four. At the completion of her terms, she will have served 20 years on the Planning Board and 18 years on the Board of Adjustment. Some members of those boards have not been approved to serve for the full 12 years.

The proposal appears on the Consent Calendar with 13 other items. Council members approve all items on the Consent Calendar with one vote, unless a member moves to have an item considered separately.

The council meets on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The instructions for commenting appear at the top of the agenda.

Sloppy Record Keeping for Weapons, Ammunition and Weapons Training Described by Benton County Sheriff’s Deputies

Benton County sheriff’s deputies describe sloppy record keeping for weapons, ammunition and weapons training certification in a 61-page collection of interviews given to the Observer. The interviews are part of an administrative review of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office.  

Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher requested the review from Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond after almost 14,000 rounds of ammunition and 2 firearms, all Benton County property, were discovered at Hatcher’s former home

The findings are included in the review conducted by Franklin County sheriff’s investigators. 

When asked to describe how ammunition is inventoried and stored, Benton Detective Todd Carlson in charge of training told investigators that “there was no inventorying policy that he knew of.” The detective said he would issue ammunition to deputies who needed it. 

As to record keeping on firearm certification, the detective told investigators, that with multiple firearms trainers, “sometimes the sheets aren’t promptly turned in, or they are left in cars, etc.” 

The detective said he often did not know who used the shooting range until he got a record.

Sometimes, the detective was told when a deputy’s weapons qualification was overdue, and he then had to track it down.

Several people had access to firearms records, the detective told investigators. 

”There were a number of people who could access and make changes to the records,” the detective said, according to investigators. 

Commander Jon Law said that, “There is a policy [for inventorying firearms], but honestly it is sloppy at times.”

The review was controversial from the beginning.  The Fraternal Order of Police and the Benton County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild pointed out the close working relationship between Raymond and Hatcher. 

The unions said an agency outside of the Tri-Cities should conduct such a review.

Some of the interviewed Benton deputies pointed out that a criminal investigation into potential wrongdoing normally precedes an administrative review.  Those deputies hesitated about talking to Franklin County investigators because they feared retribution from Hatcher. At least two deputies obtained “whistleblower” protections, Sgt. Jason Erickson and Lt. Erik Magnuson, documents show.  

The two Franklin investigators, captains Adam Diaz and Monty Huber, told the deputies that they were consulting with Raymond and could not assure that he was not sharing information with Hatcher.

The review documents sent to the Observer are attached to this post.  Investigators summarized their findings starting on Page 56 of the report.

In response to the administrative review, Erickson, who recently filed to petition for Hatcher’s recall,  submitted a complaint in Benton-Franklin Superior Court (No. 20-250460-11) to obtain records he said were not provided in earlier requests.   

Erickson asked for records of all communication between Hatcher and Raymond, and between Huber and Diaz and either Hatcher or Raymond.

Erickson had obtained an email written by Raymond to Hatcher, Franklin Prosecutor Shawn Sant, Franklin Chief Civil Deputy Jennifer Johnson, and Captain Ronelle Nelson regarding his public record request of April 17, 2020

In the April 20, 2020, email, Raymond refused to turn over the Administrative Review.  He accused FOP attorney Alan Harvey of being “up to his usual antics” and “his usual crap” in making a public record request to obtain a copy of the review. 

“We (FCSO) are not going to fulfill Mr. Harvey(‘s) request as this matter belongs first completed and placed in the hands of Sheriff Hatcher,” Raymond said in the email.

The complete Complaint can be read here.

Judicial Candidate Sharon Brown Wants to Move From the Defendant’s Chair to the Judge’s Chair in Benton-Franklin Superior Court

Since 2012, judicial candidate Sharon Brown and her ex-husband Fraser Hawley have been almost continuously involved in lawsuits filed against them in Benton-Franklin Superior Court.  Now she wants to be a judge there.  In her official Candidate Statement she emphasizes her lawmaking in the Washington State Senate:

“As a business lawyer, a City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem, and finally as your State Senator for the past eight years, I have developed a broad and unique skill set to make me an outstanding judge.  Since 2013, I have been creating, revising and establishing policy to become law, thus I understand the true meaning of the law, and how it should be applied.”

Brown did not return calls requesting comment.  However, public records from the Superior Court as well as Benton County property records and newspaper articles provide information about five lawsuits in which she was named.  Settlements were reached in four cases and dates are noted but the full details are not available to the public.  The fifth suit is ongoing.

December 11, 2012, Nor Am Investment LLC sued Fraser Hawley and Sharon Brown for payment of a promissory note for $300,000 due to be paid on April 25, 2012.  At the time Hawley was working on development in Badger Mountain South.  In the court papers Hawley responded that the $300,000 was for earnest money on property for which a purchase and sales agreement had been executed.  In addition, Hawley responded that the plaintiff had not compensated Hawley for the reasonable value of the benefits of Hawley’s designs, efforts, engineering and resources.  The case was settled in March 2013.

December 2, 2013, Brown and Hawley were sued for “Fraud, Misrepresentation, and Conversion.” According to the complaint in the court records, the plaintiff gave a check to Hawley written to Cynergy Tower Investco for $101,106.33 on July 8, 2011.  The check was intended to be an investment in a 22,000 square-foot condominium structure on the real property owned by Cynergy LLC.  Hawley and one or more of the other defendants represented that the plaintiffs would become percentage owners of Cynergy Investco.  Some months later Plaintiffs discovered that Cynergy Investco was not a legally registered in the state of Washington until about July 9, 2013.  In the complaint the plaintiffs asked for interest on the $101,106.33 from July 8, 2011 to September 5, 2013 when the defendants had issued a check for the sum to the plaintiffs.   The case was settled in June 2016.

August 29, 2017 Fraser Hawley and Sharon Brown and their business partners sued Banner Bank which was preparing to foreclose on their property at 4309 W. 27th Avenue in Kennewick for a loan of $4,136,678.11 that was due May 30, 2017.   The plaintiffs argued that the bank was not negotiating in good faith and fair dealing.  They claimed that the value of the Banks collateral greatly exceeded the amount owed on the loans and monthly payments were always timely paid.   The owners said the bank knew that while the owners had sufficient assets for repayment, the assets were not liquid and would need to be obtained with the assistance of some financial planning.

On September 12, 2017, Banner Bank countersued Sharon Brown and Fraser Hawley and their business partners regarding the delinquent loan.   According to court documents, the original promissory note had been signed on or about April 26, 2007 with an original maturity date of May 1, 2014.  But the loan was amended and extended until May 30, 2017.  The Bank claimed that they were entitled to immediate turnover of the collateral by the defendants.

The lawsuits were combined and according to court records a settlement was reached in early 2018.  Hawley and Brown divorced on March 30, 2018 in Walla Walla, Washington Superior Court.  She received the Kennewick property in the divorce settlement but later sold her share to partners on the project.

August 28, 2018, Michael Shemali, owner of MS Properties LLC and a former neighbor of Hawley and Brown, sued them and Thomas W. Arnold for repayment of two loans. This suit is the basis for Kennewick City Council Member John Trumbo’s “investigation” into the sale of Brown’s house and her knowledge of the marijuana business which resulted in an ethics complaint against him.     

Shemali claimed that Hawley and Arnold had borrowed $500,000 on February 10, 2016 to be used to purchase equipment, build structures, and otherwise fund the Pure Green cannabis operation.  About October 26, 2016, Shemali made a second loan of $250,000 for additional expenses at the cannabis operation.  As evidence, Shemali presented the two promissory notes that appeared to have been signed by Hawley and Arnold.

In her response, Sharon Brown claimed that she was not involved in and had no knowledge of the alleged promissory notes and the plaintiffs’ claims against her should be dismissed.  Hawley claimed in his response that he had never been provided proof of any money being transferred from Plaintiff Shemali.  In addition, Hawley claimed that Arnold and Shemali negotiated the various loan agreements without Hawley.

January 29, 2019, Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom ruled in favor of the plaintiff:

The Court finds that the Complaint does not assert a claim against Ms. Brown in her individual capacity.  Rather the Complaint seeks to hold Ms. Brown’s and Mr. Hawley’s marital community, and Mr. Hawley’s separate property, liable for the debt owed on the promissory notes.

The Shemali suit against Brown, Hawley and Arnold continues in the Benton-Franklin Superior Court while Sharon Brown campaigns to be a judge there.

An Update on the Dante Jones Shooting Investigation from Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant

Email below received on June 23, 2020

Thank you for your correspondence. I am still awaiting evidence to be evaluated and returned from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory. I will not be able to complete my findings until I have ALL available evidence for review and consideration. These are serious cases of public importance. Every time a life is lost, we will look closely at those cases, especially when law enforcement officers use deadly force. I continue to review this case and anticipate completion only after all reports and any additional follow up information we may request, is provided. 

Please follow up with me in about 3-4 weeks to see where we are in the process.

Thank you,

Shawn

Shawn P. Sant, Prosecutor

Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office

1016 N. 4th Ave.

Pasco, WA 99301

(509) 545-3543

ssant@co.franklin.wa.us

Franklin Prosecutor Must Charge Deputy with Killing Dante Jones and Lying to Investigators

Dante Jones Headstone

I sent the following letter to Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant, 1016 N. 4th Avenue, Pasco, Washington 99301. The phone number to the office is 509-545-3543,  ssant@co.franklin.wa.us

Dear Prosecutor Sant:

I writing to urge you to charge Deputy Cody Quantrell with killing unarmed Dante Redmond Jones and lying to investigators.

The evidence in the Special Investigation Unit report does not support Quantrell’s story about the shooting.  According to the Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team, “Four shots were fired into the vehicle striking Mr. Dante Jones multiple times from the open passenger door/window while he was in the driver seat.”  Three of the four shell casings were found on the road.  This does not support Quantrell’s dragging story.

By disobeying the command to “terminate the pursuit”,  Quantrell put himself in the position, as he claims in his statement, to relive his Army days and decide he was being ambushed when Jones pulled his vehicle next to Quantrell’s patrol car.  Quantrell stepped out of his car and shot Jones through Jone’s open passenger door.  After the three deputies pulled Jones out of his car and found no weapon, a new story for shooting him was invented.

Speeding and resisting arrest are not capital offenses.  Law enforcement officers are not judge, jury and executioners.  The killing of unarmed black men must stop.  I urge you to charge Quantrell and let a jury decide.  Our community needs justice.

Sincerely,

Lillian “Randy” Slovic

Forensic Evidence Contradicts Franklin Sheriff Deputies’ Statements in the Shooting of Unarmed Dante Redmond Jones

Dante Jones on active duty with the Marines

Forensic evidence in the Special Investigative Unit’s Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Case #19-05347, obtained through a public records request made to the Franklin County prosecutor, contradicts statements by the deputies involved in shooting unarmed Dante Redmond Jones. The shooting occurred on November 18, 2019 in rural Franklin County. Without dashboard cameras, body cameras and witnesses, collecting other evidence remains the only method for judging the veracity of officer accounts. 

The Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Response Team concluded:

Four shots were fired into the vehicle striking Mr. Dante Jones multiple times from the open passenger door/window while he was in the driver seat. (Page 478 of the report)

This conclusion was based on the location of the bullet holes and trajectory of the bullets. (Pages 664-681)   

But the shooter, Franklin County Deputy Cody Quantrell, backed by Deputy Andrew Gardner have a different story. Deputy Quantrell stated that after he pulled up next to Jones’ car with his gun in one hand he had reached into the car with his left hand to get the car keys out of the ignition when Jones accelerated the car. Quantrell said that passenger door closed on him and he became pinned between the seat and the car door. Fearing for his life he shot Jones.

The shooting occurred after an on again, off again high speed chase, after which the two, Gardner and Quantrell, seemed confused about whether there were one or two “near collisions” with Jones who was clocked at anywhere from 87mph to 55 mph on the rural Franklin County Highway at around three o’clock in the morning. (Page 7) No damage can be seen on any of the sheriff department vehicles which are pictured in the report.

Four shots were fired. Three of the bullet casings were found in the middle of the road. (page 124-138) The other casing was found on the floor of the passenger side of the car (Page 681). If the door was closed on Quantrell, how did the three casings end up in the road? And why did the trajectory of the bullets show that they were fired from an open car door or window as the Washington State Patrol Crime Scene Report Team reports and not from close range from the passenger seat in the car where Quantrell said he was trapped?

At around 03:18 Sargeant Gordon Thomasson who had also been involved in the chase, gave a “terminate pursuit command.”  But Deputy Quantrell was not satisfied with that and said, “do you care if we still follow from a distance” (page 7). There was no response. Although Thomasson said in his statement that he gave the okay, the radio record (begins on page 22) does not support that and Quantrell admits in his statement that he did not get the okay to continue the pursuit (page 1389). At 03:23.16 Quantrell said “He just tried to hit my car. I have assault 1.” 

At 3:23:55 Shots fired. It only took less than 39 seconds for Quantrell to stop his car, get out of it and shoot the unarmed Jones.

At the time of the shooting Quantrell had been with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department for one year. From 2013 to 2016 he was with the Yakima Nation Tribe and from 2016 until 2018 he was with the Toppenish Police Department. Prior to his police work, he spent three years in the military in a perimeter reconnaissance unit. (page 1343)

In addition to the shooting evidence, the report has other interesting information– almost 200 pages of comments posted on Facebook regarding the shooting (page 731 to 904). The record includes posts made to the Tri- City Herald Facebook page as well as posts on other media Facebook pages in addition to those on the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office page.

Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant has given no indication as to when he will respond to the report. In 2015 he declined to bring charges against three Pasco police who fired 17 times at Antonio Zambrano-Montes who had been throwing rocks.

Dante Jones, One More Unarmed Black Man Shot Dead by Police

Dante Redmond Jones traveling 82 mph down a Franklin County back road was pursued by three Franklin County Deputies who shot and killed the unarmed Jones.

The Special Investigative Units (cops investigating cops) Summary follows:

Event — On 11/18/19 at 0308hrs, a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed passed Sgt Thomasson. As the vehicle passed Sgt Thomasson, it honked at him. Sgt Thomasson was able to get a radar reading on the vehicle showing that the car was speeding at 82MPH. Sgt Thomasson called Deputy Quantrell on the radio and asked him if he saw the same vehicle. Deputy Quantrell said that he did see the vehicle and that it honked at him as they passed as well. Sgt Thomasson then began to try to catch up to the vehicle, but Sgt Thomasson stated that he could not see the vehicle anymore due to the speed of the vehicle and the fog. Deputy Quantrell and Deputy Gardner began heading toward Sgt Thomasson’s location to assist him. At this point Sgt Thomasson did not activate his emergency lights because he was not sure where the vehicle was. Sgt Thomasson knew that there was a T intersection at Taylor Flats and Ringold so at this point he thought that it was a good possibility that the driver might not be able to navigate the 0004 Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Investigation Summary FCSO 19-05347 Page 4 of 10 intersection at the speeds he was driving. As Sgt Thomasson approached the intersection, he saw that the vehicle had slowed down and appeared to be waiting for the police vehicle to catch up to him. As Sgt Thomasson approached and when both vehicles were within view of each other the suspect vehicle took off again, heading west on Ringold. Sgt Thomasson followed the vehicle, still not activating his emergency lights because of the distance between their vehicles. He estimated that the closest he was able to get to the vehicle was about 200 yards and at times would pull away to 400-500 yards. When Sgt Thomasson passed R-170 and Davis Lane, he could see Deputy Quantrell and Deputy Gardner’s vehicle lights behind him. At one point, Sgt Thomasson said on the radio, “He just went dark”. I took this to mean that the driver of the suspect vehicle turned his vehicle lights off, although Sgt Thomasson did not mention this in his interview. At 0313hrs, Sgt Thomasson advised Dispatch that he was trying to catch a vehicle that was driving 80+ miles per hour in the fog and that so far he had been unable to catch up to the vehicle. He asked Dispatch to advise Adams County. He also advised Dispatch that he was not in pursuit because so far he was unable to get close enough to the vehicle to even turn on his emergency lights. Deputy Quantrell advised that he and Deputy Gardner were also trying to catch up to the vehicle. According to Sgt Thomasson, at about the intersection of R-170 and Sheffield he told them that their vehicles were faster than his vehicle and he told them to pass him so that they could get closer to the suspect vehicle. This happened at 0318hrs according to the radio call records. At 0319hrs, Deputy Quantrell advised Dispatch of the suspect vehicle’s plate number and stated that the driver was failing to yield. According to Deputy Quantrell during his interview, just prior to this radio transmission, he was able to catch up to the vehicle because it had stopped in the road at an intersection and was waiting for him (Deputy Quantrell) to catch up. Deputy Quantrell stated that after calling out the plate, the vehicle took off. Deputy Quantrell stated that his lights were on and after the vehicle took off from the stop, he turned his siren on as well and pursued the vehicle. According to Deputy Gardner’s statement, he was right behind Deputy Quantrell and saw the suspect vehicle stopped in the middle of an intersection waiting for them to catch up. DeputyGardner said that he and Deputy Quantrell came up behind the vehicle and actually came to a stop behind the vehicle prior to it leaving the scene of the attempted stop, at a high rate of speed. Deputy Gardner said that prior to the vehicle taking off he activated his emergency lights as if he was attempting to make a traffic stop. At 0319hrs, Deputy Quantrell advised Dispatch that the driver of the vehicle had tried to brake check him. In their interviews, Deputy Quantrell described this as the driver of the vehicle slammed on his brakes hard and that when he had done that Deputy Quantrell almost rearended the suspect’s vehicle. Deputy Quantrell said that the only way that he was able to avoid hitting the suspect’s vehicle was because he steered his vehicle into the opposite lane of travel, thus avoiding the collision. Deputy Gardner described the incident similarly and stated that he believed that the suspect was trying to initiate a collision between their vehicles and his. 0005 Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Investigation Summary FCSO 19-05347 Page 5 of 10 Deputy Gardner only described one near collision due to a brake check type incident in his statement until the terminate pursuit command was given by Sgt Thomasson. Deputy Quantrell talked about two near collisions prior to the terminate pursuit command in his statement, but they seem to describe the second near collision the same and it would appear that one of them is confused about the timeline of events. During this second event, both Deputies say that when Deputy Quantrell narrowly avoided colliding with the suspect vehicle he had to veer to the right of the suspect’s vehicle. When Deputy Quantrell did this, the suspect intentionally steered his vehicle to the right as well, in what appeared to be an attempt to ram or collide with the Deputy’s vehicle. At 0323hrs, a Deputy (the Deputy does not identify himself by a call sign, but it sounds like Deputy Quantrell) tells Dispatch that the suspect had just tried to hit his car and that he had an Assault 1. He then stated, “Frank 10 just be advised he’s trying to hit us at this point”. Deputy Quantrell in his interview goes on to describe what happened next in the following manner; He stated that after the terminate pursuit command was given by Sgt Thomasson, they both (Deputy Quantrell and Deputy Gardner) turned their emergency lights off and he (Deputy Quantrell) could see that the vehicle had again come to a stop in the middle of the road. He is again approaching the vehicle as he continued driving after turning his emergency lights off. As he got close to the car, Deputy Quantrell stated that he saw the suspect vehicle’s reverse light come on. The vehicle then began backing at a high rate of speed towards Deputy Quantrell’s patrol car. Deputy Quantrell stated that the suspect was in the middle of the road at this point and that the suspect backed up until he was just parallel to the driver’s side of Deputy Quantrell’s patrol car and came to a stop. Deputy Quantrell stated that after the vehicle backed up next to him and came to a stop he (Deputy Quantrell) exited his vehicle and drew his weapon. Because of where the vehicles were positioned, the suspect’s passenger door was right where Deputy Quantrell was standing as he exited his patrol vehicle. He said that he tried the door handle of the front passenger door and it was unlocked. He opened the vehicle door and started giving commands to the driver. Deputy Quantrell described these commands as “let me see your hands” and “you’re under arrest”. Deputy Quantrell said that the driver looked at him but did not say anything. As this was happening, Deputy Quantrell said that he started to move into the car with the intention of using his left hand to grab the key and turn the car off. Deputy Quantrell was halfway into the car when he (the driver) looked at him and shifted the gearshift into drive and began accelerating with Deputy Quantrell halfway in the car. When the car began to accelerate, Deputy Quantrell said that the passenger door closed on him and he became pinned between the seat and the car door. Deputy Quantrell said that when the driver accelerated and he became pinned half in and half out of the car, he feared that he would be drug under the car or ran over. Fearing that he would be gravely injured or killed, he discharged his handgun at the driver in an attempt to stop him. Deputy Quantrell stated that he then fell out of the car and landed face down on the pavement as the car continued to accelerate and drive off. Deputy Gardner describes the event as follows. He was behind Deputy Quantrell and the suspect vehicle when the suspect vehicle came to a stop parallel to Deputy Quantrell’s vehicle.

Deputy Gardner said that he was about 75 feet behind their vehicles. Deputy Gardner said that by the time he had exited his vehicle, he observed that Deputy Quantrell was already inside the suspect’s vehicle. Deputy Gardner said that he heard Deputy Quantrell giving verbal commands to the suspect. He said that he could not hear everything Deputy Quantrell was saying but remembered hearing “Franklin County” and “hands”. Deputy Gardner described Deputy Quantrell as having his entire torso in the suspect’s car. Deputy Gardner said that the vehicle then recklessly continued northbound with Deputy Quantrell still inside the vehicle. He stated that he saw Deputy Quantrell being dragged while half his body was still inside and he then heard gunshots and saw flashes coming from inside the car. At that point, he did not know who was shooting. Deputy Quantrell then fell out of the car as it continued northbound. Deputy Gardner said that he ran up to Deputy Quantrell to find out if he was okay. When Deputy Quantrell stated that he was okay, he ran back to his patrol vehicle and continued the pursuit. According to the radio traffic, the above descriptions of the incident happened in a very short amount of time as illustrated below by the radio traffic: 03:22:43AM – Deputy Quantrell states, “copy, do you care if we still follow from a distance, he’s stopping in the road now at this point” 03:23:16AM – Deputy Quantrell states, “he just tried to hit my car, I have assault 1”. 03:23:24AM – Deputy Quantrell states, “F10 just be advised, he’s trying to hit us at this point” 03:23:55AM – Deputy Quantrell states, F37 dispatch, shots fired, suspects been hit. He’s still continuing northbound. After Deputy Quantrell fell out of the suspect vehicle, Sgt Thomasson, Deputy Gardner and Deputy Quantrell continued their pursuit of the suspect. The suspect drove approximately 1.5 more miles before veering off the road into a field of tree saplings. Sgt Thomasson, who was the first vehicle behind the suspect, paralleled the suspect while remaining on the road as it went into the field. As the vehicle slowed, Sgt Thomasson drove into the field down a row that separated the fields and did not contain metal T-Posts. He was able to intercept the suspect vehicle as it slowed and came to a stop. Sgt Thomasson drove his vehicle up and pinned the passenger side door with the front of his vehicle, preventing anyone from being able to open or exit the vehicle from that side. Deputy Gardner and Deputy Quantrell were close behind and approached the vehicle around the front while Sgt Thomasson covered the vehicle from the rear passenger side. In order to get a better visual inside the car Sgt Thomasson broke the back passenger window out of the car. Deputy Gardner and Deputy Quantrell approached the driver’s door and opened the door. The driver, later identified as Dante Jones, was conscious but was not responding to any of the officer’s commands. They extricated him from the vehicle and placed him in handcuffs. They then began looking for gunshot wounds and providing first aid. Jones remained conscious but non-verbal until the ambulance arrived at around 0415hrs. Once the ambulance arrived, they loaded him and shortly after loading him, he stopped breathing and they started CPR. Around 0420hrs, the volunteer ambulance met a Pasco Fire Ambulance so that he could be transferred to their care for the remainder of the trip. At that 0007 Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Investigation Summary FCSO 19-05347 Page 7 of 10 point Pasco Fire Medics called the hospital and spoke to a doctor who told gave them permission to “call it”. They stopped all care at that point and notified Dispatch. The Ambulance moved to a nearby fire station and Captain Huber with FCSO responded to where the Ambulance was and stood by with the body until SIU arrived.