Police have released new information about the night a Spokane Valley, Wash., nursery owner and Baptist minister was shot and killed by a county sheriff’s deputy during a night-time incident in the nursery parking lot.
Wayne Scott Creach, 74, was killed by Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Hirzel on Aug. 25 just after 11 p.m. when Creach went to check on a suspected prowler in the parking lot of his business, The Plant Farm and Creach Greenhouse.
Based on a detailed account Hirzel gave investigators, the deputy had parked in the lot after hours in response to a neighbor’s request earlier in the day for additional patrols. He was typing up parking tickets when Creach approached his unmarked vehicle with a gun at his side and a flashlight, according to reports in The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
The deputy, who had his driver’s side window open at the time, pulled his gun, pointed it at Creach and told him to “drop the weapon.”
“Mr. Creach answered a few times, saying he didn’t have to,” the newspaper quoted Spokane Police Lt. Dave McGovern, whose office is investigating the shooting. “At one point he said … ‘people have stolen from me before.’ We asked (Hirzel) if that clued him into that he was a property owner. (Hirzel) said no, it didn’t. He remembered the statement being made, but it did not clue him in that he was a property owner.”
Hirzel called for additional police assistance and got out of the car. Creach backed up and put the gun in his waistband behind his back, according to the deputy’s account. Hirzel ordered Creach to the ground, and he refused. The deputy then hit Creach in the knee with his baton. At the same time as Creach was falling toward the ground, Hirzel said he saw him reach his hand behind his back.
Hirzel told investigators he holstered his baton, grabbed his gun and fired once, killing Creach. At no time did Creach aim his weapon at the deputy, McGovern said. He added that the autopsy showed no corresponding mark on Creach’s leg from a baton strike. Additional forensics will be done on the man’s trousers and the baton.
The case will likely be forwarded to Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office next week.
Click here to read the full story by The Spokesman-Review, including comments from the nursery owner’s son.