This update contains the brief interviews of two officers who saw and did virtually nothing, as well as the interview of Officer Stark, who, having no idea why he was shooting, fired one round into Erik Scott’s back.  The technique and competence of the detectives involved—to say nothing of the officers—has not improved.

08-18-11: The Erik Scott Case, Update 14.2: The Officers Speak–Sort Of (Continued)

(2) Date/Time: 07-10-10, (app.) 1724-1728 
Duration of Interview: App. 4 minutes.  
Officer DUSTIN BUNDY.  
Interviewed By: Det. Jensen and Det. Wildemann
.  Also Present: Sgt. Stephen Lehtinen and PPA Rep. Tom Reid
General Counsel Kathy Werner-Collins.

SUMMARY:

Bundy says that on the way to the Costco, he remembers Dispatch telling him that Scott had a gun in his “back waist,” and that he was being “really belligerent” with the manager, was ripping things off the wall, said he was a Green Beret, and could do whatever he wanted. Bundy said that as he got closer, radio traffic told him that Scott was getting “a little more irate with everybody.”

Bundy said that when he arrived, he took his car’s shotgun and noticed people already leaving, saying “there’s just a sea of people in the, in the entrance of the, of the place.” Bundy said that he was pushed by the crowd (?!) behind one of the large rock-faced pillars at the front of the building and could not see what was happening in front of the store.

Bundy said: “Um, all of a sudden I hear the word gun, kind a perks my ears up.” He said he looked in “that direction” and heard gunfire. He said people were “falling toward me, and rushing toward me,” and he tried to maneuver around the pillar and ran into a line of shopping carts.  He had no idea who was shooting or why.

Eventually, Bundy was able to get close enough to see Scott (he could not name him) on the ground and several officers “standing there.” It was then that he said: “…and, ah, I seen the, ah, there was a gun a few feet away from him laying on the ground.” In response to a question, Bundy describes the gun as: “…a black semi-automatic gun. Ah, it looked like it was still in the holster.”

The detectives prompt Bundy who remembers Sterner (he didn’t know her name) yelling at the officers. The detectives confirmed that Bundy didn’t fire his weapons and didn’t actually see the shooting, and that he didn’t actually hear any commands given to Scott.

ANALYSIS:

Officer Bundy didn’t see anything and didn’t hear anything. The detectives did not try to clarify or obtain greater detail from him. Why was he interviewed? Let’s examine the checklist:

(1) Dispatch said Scott dangerous/drugged, possibly involved in crimes? Sort of check: dangerous maybe, no drugs.

(1) Scott drugged? No idea.

(2) Officers forced to act in middle of huge crowd because Scott so dangerous (by walking normally toward the parking lot)? No idea.

(3) Scott ignored officer’s clear commands? No idea.

(4) Scott pulled, pointed gun at officers? No idea.

(5) Officers heroically shot to protect themselves, public? No idea.

(6) Gun on pavement by Scott’s body? Check.

(7) Handcuffed Scott? No idea.

(8) Searched Scott (sort of and didn’t find anything, especially not a gun which we can’t mention right now anyway)? No idea.

(9) Didn’t see Sterner (who was feet away, screaming at you not to kill Scott) until after you killed Scott? No idea.

So why was Bundy interviewed? Because he could add one more vital check: he saw a gun, the same black semi-automatic pistol that wasn’t actually black at all, but was in a black holster that Mosher said he saw. Even for a four minute interview, the detectives were remarkably incurious, but they got what they wanted, the most important check, one of the checks absolutely vital to the Metro narrative.

NOTE: Keep in mind Bundy’s description of the sheer number of people and the atmosphere of panic, such that not only could he not see what what happening, he, a uniformed officer brandishing a shotgun, was actually pushed and jostled and could not move where he wished.


(3) Date/Time: 07-10-10, 1738-1740 
Duration of Interview: 2 minutes
Officer DEAN VIETMEIER
.  Interviewed By: Det. Jensen and Det. Wildemann.
Also Present: PPA Rep. Tom Reid.

SUMMARY:

The detectives actually remembered to mention the kind of gun Vietmeier carried on duty at the beginning of this interview despite the fact that it had no part in the case.

Vietmeier was on a traffic stop when he overheard the Costco call of a person with a gun. The detectives, prompting furiously, get Vietmeier to say that Scott (Vietmeier did not know his name) was “acting erratic,” and was “tearing packages apart, throwing packages.” Vietmeier said that he thought that Costco management “tried to confront the guy to get him to leave ’cause I guess they don’t allow people with firearms in the business. So.” They also prompted Vietmeier to say that he heard via radio that Scott had a handgun in his “back waistband,” though Vietmeier could not say if Scott had a holster.

When Vietmeier arrived: “that’s when all the people came running out, and then the shots were fired.” Vietmeier said that he only heard about the shots on the radio—another officer announced it–and saw nothing. Vietmeier said that he drove to the front entrance where he saw Scott on the ground, “So I drew down on him, and, ah, I had him there.”  Vietmeier said that Mosher immediately handcuffed him.

Vietmeier said that he saw Scott’s gun on the ground by his left foot, and after being prompted, said that it was in a black holster, but that he knew nothing else about it because “I just saw it real quick.”

Vietmeier said that he heard no officer commands, and saw people running out even before the shots were fired. He thought Sterner (he didn’t know her name) was screaming at the officers, and that there was another woman—name unknown—”screaming hysterically behind me.”

ANALYSIS:

Officer Vietmeier, like Officer Bundy, did not see or hear the actual shooting, so why was he interviewed. Let’s return to the checklist:

(1) Dispatch said Scott dangerous/drugged, possibly involved in crimes? Sort of check: dangerous maybe, criminal maybe, no drugs.

(1) Scott drugged? No idea.

(2) Officers forced to act in middle of huge crowd because Scott so dangerous (by walking normally toward the parking lot)? No idea.

(3) Scott ignored officer’s clear commands? No idea.

(4) Scott pulled, pointed gun at officers? No idea.

(5) Officers heroically shot to protect themselves, public? No idea.

(6) Gun on pavement by Scott’s body? Check, but only a glimpse.

(7) Handcuffed Scott? Check: Mosher did it.

(8) Searched Scott (sort of and didn’t find anything, especially not a gun which we can’t mention right now anyway)? No idea.

(9) Didn’t see Sterner (who was feet away, screaming at you not to kill Scott) until after you killed Scott? No real idea; saw someone he thought was his girlfriend screaming, but that’s about it.

Like Bundy, Vietmeier can provide one useful check: he saw a gun—no idea of anything beyond that—in a black holster on the ground near Scott’s body. But the detectives made a significant mistake: Mosher claimed that the gun fell forward to the pavement as Scott fell, several feet in front of him, toward Mosher, yet Vietmeier saw a gun on the ground near Scott’s left foot, some 8-10 feet away from where Mosher placed it. This is a significant and dangerous contradiction. Whether incompetence or part of the narrative, this is very, very clumsy, focusing attention on something they obviously would rather gloss over, and this, despite having interviewed Mosher only an hour earlier. Oops. Apparently Officer Mosher isn’t the only Metro officer with memory problems.

It is also significant that virtually everything Vietmeier knows he knows second or third hand, apparently by means of hearing radio traffic.  Other than “drawing down” on a man who was dying or dead and who presented no threat, he has no first hand knowledge and no actual role in the events of July 10.

NOTE: Again, when reading Officer Stark’s account, keep in mind the accounts of Officers Bundy and Vietmeier as they describe the pandemonium present as the crowd did whatever they could to avoid being shot, including obstructing a clear view of what was happening.

Date/Time: 07-10-10, 1805-1815 
Duration of Interview: 10 minutes.  
Officer JOSHUA STARK
.  Interviewed By: Det. Jensen and Det. Wildemann.  
Also Present: Sgt. Chris Halbert and Police Protective Association General Counsel Kathy Werner-Collins.

The detectives begin by noting that Stark carries a Glock 17 (9mm) with 17 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, but make no mention of how many rounds were fired or how many were found in the magazine after the shooting, but Off. Stark tells them that he fired one round.

Starks’s description of the information he received from the Dispatcher via radio focused on describing Scott as “acting more erratically” and “possibly ED.” He also said that he was “reasonably certain that he had a gun in his possession,” and that Scott “disobeyed the Costco employee’s orders to leave the store, and he was, um, rampaging in the store by taking things off shelves.”

Stark said that he arrived third, after Mosher and Mendiola and that when he arrived, a “large crowd” of people were already leaving. Seeing Mendiola near the entrance speaking to someone he assumed was a Costco employee, he went to Mendiola. He said that Mendiola was relaying information from the employee to the Dispatcher about Scott’s location in the store and repeated that Scott was “…the subject with the gun, um, acting irrationally.” He placed Off. Mosher to the East, by the exit door.

The detectives prompt Stark to tell them that he is a CIT officer and that Mosher was originally assigned as the primary CIT officer. Stark said that he was self-assigned to the call.

Stark said that he heard Mosher “issuing loud verbal commands,” but could only make out the word “ground” because of all the people and the noise they were making. Stark said that he was to the left of Scott, and that Scott wasn’t obeying Mosher’s commands. He said that Scott “…was reaching back behind him with his right arm, right arm, um, trying to get something from what appeared to be the rear of his waistband.” Stark said that Mosher moved away from Scott and “…that’s when the suspect’s right arm came forward with a black gun, ah, what appeared to me to be a, a gun. Um, he pointed it straight forward at Officer Mosher, and that’s when the shots were fired.”

The detectives prompted Stark, asking: “Now when he made that, when he made that motion forward with the gun, was that a, a, a motion where he would have been surrendering the gun, or was it, did you consider it an aggressive motion?”

Stark replied: “No. Everything about the suspect’s movement were, was an un-compliance with, ah, Officer Mosher’s verbal commands that he was telling him. He wasn’t listening to anything Officer Mosher was saying. Un, and the, he was making this it was a, a, ah, a very aggravated movement trying to pull out, um, the gun from his waistband, and he shot that thing straight forward. He just threw his arm straight forward pointing it at Officer Mosher.”

Stark described the shooting: “Um, Offic-shots were fired. I wasn’t sure whether Officer Mosher had been shot, or the suspect as well. Um, I made movement, and gained line of sight to where there was no, um, civilians around, ah, in the backdrop of when I fired so I was sure of my shot. And ah, the suspect was moving backwards when I fired my shot.”

The detectives prompt Stark to better describe his backdrop, and he described one of the large, rock-faced pillars at the front of the Costco. The detectives tried to place Stark and the others involved, but don’t go into any real detail, leaving their positions and movement vague. In response to questions, Stark says that he did not know who fired at the time of the shooting. This exchange took place:

Q: “Okay. But why did you fire?”

Stark: “I fired because, um, Officer Mosher was in imminent threat of death from the suspect’s gun, as well as everybody else around him, behind him, we were completely surrounded by other people.”

The Detectives ask Stark about Sterner, but he said that he didn’t see anyone with Scott, and that he could not hear Scott say anything. He said that Scott fell backwards and his gun was five or six feet from him, toward the Costco. Stark said that Mosher handcuffed Scott and that no one moved Scott’s gun.

They again prompted Stark regarding Sterner and he replied: “There was a female, a Hispanic female with long black hair that I saw that was yelling. Um, that said that I can’t recall exactly what she said, but something about him coming back from the military, and you killed him.”

The Detectives prompt Stark about the time frame of the confrontation and Stark said that from the time Mosher began giving commands until Scott pulled a weapon took only a few seconds, but said that “…it took him several seconds to actually get it out.”

ANALYSIS:

Checklist:

(1) Dispatch said Scott dangerous/drugged, possibly involved in crimes? Mostly check: drugs and dangerous.

(1) Scott drugged? Check.

(2) Officers forced to act in middle of huge crowd because Scott so dangerous (by walking normally toward the parking lot)? Check.

(3) Scott ignored officer’s clear commands? Check.

(4) Scott pulled, pointed gun at officers? Check.

(5) Officers heroically shot to protect themselves, public? Check.

(6) Gun on pavement by Scott’s body? Check.

(7) Handcuffed Scott? Check: Mosher did it.

(8) Searched Scott (sort of and didn’t find anything, especially not a gun which we can’t mention right now anyway)? No idea/no mention at all.

(9) Didn’t see Sterner (who was feet away, screaming at you not to kill Scott) until after you killed Scott? Not a good check; saw someone screaming.

Stark’s interview ran only 10 minutes, and like that of Mosher, was amazingly devoid of the kind of detail that is absolutely essential in such cases. The Detectives again made sure to cover all of the primary narrative/checklist points. And Stark, like the other officers, makes clear they were surrounded by a great many people leaving the Costco.

Stark was standing some distance from Mosher and Scott and could only hear the word “ground,” yet somehow knew that Scott was not complying with Mosher’s commands, the commands he could not hear. Remember that in the middle of that crowd, it would have been highly unlikely that Erik Scott could hear the commands, particularly after being startled by the unexpected sight of Mosher pointing his handgun at him. Stark also confirmed that from the moment Mosher began giving commands until the first shot was only seconds, yet he apparently felt that a few seconds—we know that it was only about two seconds—was sufficient time for Scott to do what Mosher was ordering him to do, despite the fact that he admitted that he had no idea what Mosher was ordering Scott to do.

Stark also makes it clear that he saw something black, something that appeared to be a gun, and with prompting, what appeared to be a gun was being drawn with “a very aggravated movement,” yet the movement took “…several seconds to actually get it out.”

A reasonably rapid draw can be accomplished in ¾ of a second, and substantially less time for well-trained shooters, yet Scott’s motion was “very aggravated.” Pantomime a draw taking from 2-3 seconds until the weapon is pointed at your imaginary target. Two to three seconds might sound fast, but it’s actually amazingly slow, particularly in this context. No rational person could characterize the almost comically slow speed of such a motion as “very aggravated.”

It should also be noted that the detectives did not establish how, in a crowd of hundreds of people who were constantly in motion, he could have a clear, consistently unobstructed view of everything that was happening, including Scott’s alleged drawing of a specific handgun, nor does Stark offer such information.

Despite having no idea who actually fired or why, Stark rushed closer and apparently while running and drawing, he took the time to be absolutely sure of his backdrop before firing. His “safe” backdrop was one of the huge pillars, a pillar made of concrete and steel and faced with embedded rocks, making a perfect random ricochet generator.

Having heard only the word “ground,” having seen what had to be a comically slow, yet very aggravated drawing of something black that he thought was a gun, having heard an unspecified number of shots, and being completely surrounded by people, Off. Stark felt that he had to shoot because Mosher was in imminent danger, as were all the people surrounding them, and he shot at Scott as he was falling backwards, a moving target surrounded by innocent citizens.

Stark was right. There was imminent danger, but not from Scott, only from the officer’s abysmal tactics and their panicky shooting.

The detectives do not inquire at all about any search of Scott or any of the hundreds of details that they should have nailed down, including what happened to Scott’s or Stark’s handguns. Again, amazingly, they asked the union lawyer to participate in the questioning, but she had no questions.

NOTE: The final officer interview of ex-Metro Officer Thomas Mendiola, which is followed by summary analysis of the entire 14-series Updates, will appear on Saturday, August 20.

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