Anyone who tells you there isn't a double standard for Cops is lying. If I had done what he did, I'd be in jail right now...and so should he.
Cop, butcher in clear after dispute
Thursday, February 28, 2008
By Stephanie Rice, Columbian staff writer
The Great Meat Fight of 2007 has been declared a draw.
Criminal charges will not be filed against Vancouver Police Officer Roger Evans or Top Choice Meats owner Mike Brannan, a special prosecutor said Wednesday.
The Dec. 21 altercation started when Evans, who went to the Orchards shop to pick up a venison order while off duty, became upset that market employees failed to add pepper flakes to his venison jerky.
According to witnesses, Evans and Brannan had a lengthy, heated exchange that ended with Evans drawing his gun, customers ducking for cover and a flurry of calls to 911.
Clark County Sheriff’s Detective Rick Buckner, who investigated the incident, found no fault with Evans. He recommended misdemeanor assault charges against Brannan based on Evans’ claim that the butcher shoved a heavy box of venison at the police officer’s chest outside the store.
The Vancouver city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors within city limits, but Charles Isely and James Senescu, a former assistant city attorney and a former deputy county prosecutor, respectively, were asked to review the case to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest since a police officer was involved.
Isely said there was a lack of credible and consistent evidence to support any criminal charges.
Therese Lavallee, Brannan’s attorney, received the special prosecutors’ report and said no witnesses corroborated Evans’ claim that Brannan shoved the box at him.
Witnesses did, however, say that Evans drew his weapon without provocation.
That could support a charge of second-degree assault with a firearm, prosecutors said in their report, but they declined to file such a charge because they said Evans could argue self-defense.
Evans has said he pulled his weapon because he feared Brannan was going to pull one out first.
The prosecutors reasoned that, as a police officer, Evans has a heightened sense about predicting what a person is going to do, Lavallee said.
But what about his SWAT training on how to defuse a situation? Lavallee asked.
“There’s no justification I can see to pull a loaded gun,” she said.
Lavallee said Evans should be charged.
“It should go to a jury. That’s what our system is for,” she said.
Any other person who pulled a gun on a store owner would have been arrested, Lavallee and Brannan said.
“He’s a city official. They’re just covering up to protect him,” Brannan said. “I’m just a citizen.”
Attorney Tom Phelan spoke on Evans’ behalf Wednesday but said he couldn’t discuss the situation because of a pending internal affairs investigation.
Evans, who remains on administrative duty, is a respected SWAT and K-9 officer. Evans also made the news last year when his German shepherd partner, Dakota, was shot and killed by a suspect in Brush Prairie.
When Evans drew his weapon Dec. 21, Brannan said he was dumbfounded.
“I’ve never had a gun pointed at me. Hey, it’s pretty scary.”
He and his wife, Patti, have lost sleep over the situation.
During Buckner’s investigation, a few people came forward and described Brannan as a hothead.
“None of them were there,” Brannan said.
Besides, “if I was a mean, rude person you would not want to come and buy meat from me, and I’ve been there seven years.”
He said his customers have teased him about the meat fight, either coming in with their hands up saying, “Hey, Mike, I don’t have a gun,” or inspecting their order and pretending to be upset about missing pepper flake.
But he hasn’t found too much to laugh about.
He said he has tried to conceal his stress at work.
“Like our sign says, ‘Customer service with a smile,’ ” Brannan said.
Stephanie Rice can be contacted at 360-735-4549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.