Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, October 06, 2006

P-I story on Reichert: murderous sergeant kept on duty

The P-I's Lewis Kamb is reporting that Dave Reichert did not remove a sergeant from duty who was involved in a bizarre arson and murder case in 1996.

According to the newspaper, the case has never been reported and was discovered in an old lawsuit filed by the parents of the murder victim.
Dave Reichert knew for weeks in 1996 that a sergeant under his command was meddling in a felony arson investigation, but kept him on the job despite a policy that would have allowed Reichert to remove him, according to interviews and court documents.

It was a bizarre case. The sergeant, Matt Bachmeier, had burned down his own Renton home to collect insurance, then a month later implicated an innocent man before killing him.
This could be quite the bombshell. Reichert claims, in a written statement to the P-I, that he did nothing wrong.
"I was the precinct commander at the time that Bachmeier was a person of interest in an arson case of his own home. He was eventually arrested and charged and convicted and I testified at his trial. He is currently serving life in prison somewhere in the United States. Any idea that I should have shared information with the jurisdiction investigating the case is wrong and in fact had I gotten involved it could have jeopardized the case. That was the responsibility of others in my chain of command. I continually reported to my chain of command all action that was taken -- that was my duty; that was my job. Any further action that could be taken regarding his employment would be the responsibility of the chief and the sheriff, not mine."
But reporter Kamb has sourced a differing view.
Frank Adamson, who was then chief of criminal investigations, doesn't see it that way.

"By sharing information with Renton, I don't know how he could've created a problem in their case," Adamson said. "If he's knowledgeable of something that might be of value in (Renton's) case, I think he has a responsibility to pass it along."
In that same statement, Reichert claims the P-I is not treating him fairly.
"However, I have spoken with the authors of this series on the Sheriff's Office only once. When the first articles in the series ran, its authors came to me and requested an interview, which I granted, relating to discipline issues in the King County Sheriff's Office. They invited me to share my views and comments. After the article appeared, it appeared obvious that they weren't going to fairly present the views and comments of those they interviewed. It was clear they were pursuing an agenda and intended to mislead readers and this community.
It's clear that this is going to hit the Reichert campaign pretty hard. If you go read the entire Kamb story in the P-I you'll see that it's a pretty strange tale.

As the GOP tries to spin this one, let's keep in mind that Reichert has gotten a lot of mileage out of his role in the Green River case, and that the P-I has uncovered a case where Reichert's judgement as a law enforcement official seems shaky at best. Really, go read the Kamb article if you have time.

MORE Kamb's profile piece on Reichert also contains all sorts of interesting stuff. For example:
Mark Prothero, one of Ridgway's defense attorneys, saw a different side to the man he called "Sheriff Hairspray."

In the days before Ridgway pleaded guilty, Prothero observed then-secret meetings the lawman held with the killer. Decked out in his full sheriff's regalia, Reichert met with Ridgway, though little substantive emerged.

"It appeared to be a prolonged photo-op for Reichert's next political campaign," said Prothero, noting stills taken from police video later showed up in the press.

"Every single interview conducted with Gary Ridgway was videotaped. That was standard procedure," Reichert wrote Thursday.
(Props to Eli Sanders at Slog, who has a great post up about "The P-I's October Surprise.")

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