Whitecaps

Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Name:
Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Theft, Gunfire, and Death in Hayden, Idaho: Part II

Information Sources and Preface

The Idaho State Police Region I Investigations Division (ISP) investigated the December 28 officer-involved shooting incident in the Grouse Meadows subdivision of Hayden, Idaho, and submitted a written report (ISP Report) to Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney William J. Douglas in mid-January 2005. On January 31, 2005, Prosecutor Douglas found that the shooting of Michael A. Madonna by Kootenai County Sheriff's Department (KCSD) Deputies Bangs and Smart was justifiable homicide as defined in Idaho Code 18-4011 Justifiable Homicide By Officer.

Prior to the release of the complete report, The Spokesman Review newspaper published two stories about the incident. The first was on December 30, 2004, and the second story was on January 5, 2005. The second story drew public and official criticism because it had identified the two deputies and it had relied on a source whom it did not identify for details about the shooting.

On February 6, 2005, five days after the ISP report's release, The Spokesman Review editorially commented that the shooting of Michael Madonna was clearly justifiable, but the paper also wondered if the shootout that also critically wounded Officer Coeur d'Alene Police Department (CdAPD) Officer Michael Kralicek might have been prevented. The paper went on to call for an independent investigation of the KCSD's policies that were relevant to this incident.

My comments on this incident are derived from my reading and interpretation of the 320-page ISP Report I received from Prosecutor Douglas, Prosecutor Douglas's Review document which was also released to the news media, and on newspaper and television news accounts of the incident. Where referred to in these posts, specific media stories will be appropriately cited and where available, HTML linked. My comments may also link the reader to other reference material available on the Internet.

On February 10, 2004, I had a telephone conversation with Dr. Robert West, Kootenai County Coroner. In that conversation Dr. West denied my request to examine the forensic pathologist's autopsy report on Michael A. Madonna.

This post is not an all-encompassing treatise. Many relevant details in the ISP Report are not included. I hope that readers who have questions about what I've written and how I've arrived at my conclusions will e-mail them to me or leave comments.

December 28 Incident

Shortly after midnight on December 28, 2004, KCSD Deputies Justin Bangs and Kevin Smart shot and killed Michael A. Madonna after he had fired two rounds at them and CdAPD Officer Michael Kralicek at Madonna's home in the Grouse Meadows subdivision of Hayden, Idaho. One of the two rounds Madonna fired struck and critically wounded Kralicek.

The shooting happened after Madonna had been handcuffed behind his back by Bangs and seated in Madonna's garage. Bangs left Madonna seated in a chair and walked a few feet to confer privately with Smart who had been interviewing Madonna's girl friend. Madonna successfully maneuvered his cuffed hands in front of him. Bangs saw this and again handcuffed Madonna behind his back, reseated Madonna in the chair, and then walked a few feet away to speak with Kralicek who had just arrived.

Madonna once again manipulated his cuffed hands to his front and ran toward the door connecting the garage to the house. Based on the ISP Report drawing (my assumptions: drawing is to scale and the width of the doorway was 3'-0"), I estimate Madonna had been seated approximately 14-18 feet from the door. (Photos in the ISP Report suggest the distance could have been several feet fewer.) Bangs and Kralicek saw Madonna bolt and pursued him. Once through the door, Madonna went directly to a living room coffee table estimated from the ISP Report drawings to be 12-18 feet from the door. There he picked up a loaded revolver, turned, and fired first one and then the second round. One of the rounds struck Kralicek as he stood in or near the threshold of the door to the garage. Kralicek had not drawn his own handgun but had apparently drawn the Taser from his belt holster and was preparing to fire it. He was struck by Madonna's round before he could fire the Taser.

As he saw the foot pursuit commence, Deputy Smart left Madonna's girl friend in his patrol car and ran to the rear of the car parked in the garage. He positioned himself at the rear of the car and was able to see Bangs inside the house and Kralicek at the door opening. Bangs, inside the foyer by the connecting door, was firing at Madonna. From the ISP drawing, I estimate that Madonna could have been 6-8 feet from Bangs. Madonna, grasping his revolver in his still-handcuffed hands, extended the revolver around the corner pointing generally toward Bangs or Smart. Seeing Madonna's gun, Bangs fired rounds at the foyer wall at a point where he believed his rounds would penetrate and strike Madonna. Bangs then retreated to the garage where he joined Smart. At that time, Bangs noticed Kralicek had been hit by gunfire and was lying on the garage floor. Bangs obtained another magazine of ammunition from Smart and reloaded. At that point, Madonna was visible to both deputies. They fired again, and some of their rounds struck Madonna. He fell to the floor wounded and did not fire his weapon again.

As other deputies and officers arrived in response to Deputy Smart's earlier radio call for help, they administered emergency medical aid to Kralicek and Madonna and secured the crime scene. Madonna and Kralicek were taken to Kootenai Medical Center in separate ambulances. Madonna was pronounced dead in the Emergency Department.

December 17 Incident

The December 17, 2004, arrest by CdAPD Officer Alan Winstead of Michael Madonna for driving under the influence is relevant to the shooting. Madonna became combative and resisted arrest by Officer Winstead. Other officers (including Officer Massie who "drive stunned Madonna with her Tazer (sic)" and SGT Bozlee) assisted in controlling Madonna until Winstead could handcuff him behind his back. Then they placed Madonna in the back seat of Winstead's patrol car. Winstead then drove toward the Kootenai County Public Safety Building with CdAPD SGT Bozlee following in his own patrol car.

At some point enroute, Madonna maneuvered his cuffed hands from behind his back to the front. He then successfully opened the cage separating the back and front seats. Madonna first had his hands on Officer Winstead's head but then moved them in the direction of Winstead's gun. Winstead successfully stopped his patrol car before Madonna could get his gun. SGT Bozlee stopped his own car, opened a rear passenger door on Winstead's car, and pulled Madonna out of the front and back into the rear of Winstead's vehicle. An off-duty KCSD detention deputy assisted SGT Bozlee in hobbling Madonna. Based on this incident, Madonna was also booked for felony battery on a police officer.

Michael Madonna's Emotional State After December 17 Arrest

While in jail on December 20, Michael Madonna telephoned his former wife. During that conversation, Madonna was asked why he was doing this with his life. Madonna replied to her, "I have a death wish" and "I just want out of here."

In a post-shooting interview by ISP detectives with a male friend of Madonna's, the friend stated, in substance, that in days prior to the December 28 shooting, Madonna talked about going out "in a blaze of glory"; that Madonna had a .357 and was "always trippin' on his gun"; that Madonna threatened to shoot somebody if they came to get him; and that Madonna had started selling personal property to get funds for a lawyer. The friend said Madonna was had become depressed, and when asked by the ISP detective if the friend thought Madonna's death was "suicide by police", the friend replied "this is exactly what it was".

In a post-shooting interview by an ISP detective with Madonna's girl friend while still at the shooting scene, the girl friend stated that she had been previously aware of the gun in the coffee table. She recounted that Madonna told her after being arrested the previous week, he would not go down without a fight.

In a January 1, 2005, Coeur d'Alene Press article headlined Madonna: 'Just kill me' by Dave Turner, Michael Madonna's sister reportedly said her brother was upset since the December 17 arrest and had little intention to serve jail time on the felony battery on a police officer charge. She went on to say he had begun liquidating his belongings and giving things away.

Understanding Post-Incident Investigations

Officer-involved shootings are rare in Kootenai County. After such an incident, there should be at least two distinct types of investigations.

The first will be a criminal investigation to gather the facts and physical evidence so a prosecuting attorney can decide if criminal prosecution is warranted. That investigation will (or should) never be conducted by any agency who had an employee involved in the shooting. The Michael Madonna death investigation was done by the Idaho State Police Region I Investigation Division, because deputies from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department (KCSD) and an officer from the Coeur d'Alene Police Department (CdAPD) were involved. This investigation produced the ISP Report.

The second investigation is often called an administrative investigation, an internal affairs investigation, or a special inspection. It can be simultaneous with the first and is usually conducted by each agency with an involved employee. One purpose is to determine if the employee's performance was consistent with his respective departments' policies and procedures. Another purpose is to determine if the officer's and deputies' performance was consistent with the training they had received.

Because the two types of investigation have different approaches, the results of each investigation are not interchangeable. The criminal investigation by the ISP was not a replacement or substitute for the administrative investigations conducted by the KCSD and CdAPD. No one should have expected the ISP's investigative report to make comparative judgments about whether or not departmental policies, regulations, or procedures were followed. That was neither the ISP's duty nor the purpose of its investigation. Neither did the ISP's report of the shooting investigation reveal all the information the agencies will develop during their administrative investigations. Judgments and evaluations about employee conformity with departmental policies, regulations, and procedures are the product of the administrative reviews and are not necessarily germane to the criminal investigation.

Understanding Departmental Policies and Procedures

Law enforcement agencies develop and constantly reevaluate policies and procedures. Policies and procedures establish the foundation and framework for accountability. They are intended to keep the agencies in conformity with the law and to enable them to develop personnel training standards. As such, policies and procedures are more than guidelines.

A law enforcement officer's failure to adhere to departmental policies and procedures must invoke supervisory review of the officer's conduct. During the course of that review, the supervisor or a more formal review board will determine if the officer's conduct was within the boundaries of discretion and latitude allowed the officer. The failure of a departmental supervisor to review a policy or procedural violation is a failure of the supervisor to perform his or her duties. In some instances, supervisory review (what some incorrectly and defensively refer to as "second guessing") of a policy or procedural violation will reveal that the policy or procedure was deficient and must be changed. Failure of supervisors to review apparent policy or procedural violations is dereliction of duty.

In some cases what may at first glance appear to have been an officer's violation of policy or procedure is correctly found by the supervisor or review board to have been circumstantially appropriate. In other words, a violation of policy or procedure is sometimes justified. That's because policies and procedures cannot comprehensively cover every conceivable situation an officer may encounter.

It is the review panel's duty to determine if the officer exercised good judgment in the officer's understanding and interpretation of policies and procedures as they applied to the on-scene circumstances confronting the officer at the time. If the officer understood the policy or procedure yet exercised appropriate discretion and judgment in violating it, punishment is inappropriate. If the officer's violation of policy or procedure is found to be circumstantially inappropriate, it is the supervisor's or review board's responsibility to administer the appropriate corrective action. That can range from a verbal correction or admonition to remedial training to adverse personnel action including termination.

Administrative investigations and the reports they generate can and should result in disciplinary or adverse personnel action for negligent or repeated unjustified violations of policy or procedures.

The administrative investigation should identify deficient policies and procedures. Policies and procedures that don't meet agency objectives or conform to best practices are deficient and need to be corrected.

The administrative investigation should also identify supervisory deficiencies and training needs. It is important for supervisors to recognize and correct policy or procedural violations in their subordinates before the violations become serious. A supervisor's failure to supervise properly is no less egregious and deserving of punishment than the subordinate's willful and unjustified violation of policies and procedures. Ultimately, the objective of the administrative investigations should be to correct institutional or individual deficiencies.

Prisoner Restraint and Control

Three times (once on December 17 and twice on December 28) Michael Madonna had been handcuffed behind his back. On each of those three occasions he maneuvered his cuffed hands from behind his back and got them in front of him. In the third event, he was able to run into his house, pick up a loaded handgun, and fire it at a pursuing deputy and officer.

It is useful to understand some basic facts about prisoner restraint and control by law enforcement officers. For purposes of this post, restraint devices will be limited to handcuffs and seatbelts.

Handcuffs do not immobilize a person. They are devices that give the officer more control over the person being restrained. A handcuffed person can still kick, walk, and run. If the person has been incorrectly handcuffed in front or has been able to maneuver his cuffed hands from behind his back to his front, he may still be able to grasp objects that can be used to harm himself or others.

Officers use handcuffs to protect the officer, protect the person being restrained, and protect others from the restrained person. If a person is in custody, the officer has a legal obligation to protect the person being restrained. The failure to properly restrain an arrestee can have legal consequences for the officer and his department. Though this article entitled Liability Constraints on Human Restraints was first published 1993, many of the points it makes are still valid.

There are two styles of handcuffs commonly used by law enforcement officers. The first style is a chain link handcuff.

The second style is a hinged handcuff.

Compare the hand spacing in the photo of the chain link handcuffs to the spacing in the photo of the hinged handcuff. The hinged handcuff draws the cuffed hands even closer together. The hinged handcuff's construction reduces the prisoner's ability to maneuver his arms and hands even more than the chain link handcuffs. According to the ISP Report, the handcuffs removed from Michael Madonna at Kootenai Medical Center were "Peerless hinged handcuffs, serial #068688, 'J.B.' etched each side."

Both styles of handcuffs can be double-locked. Once double-locked, the single strand (the handcuff's moveable arm with ratchet teeth) cannot be tightened or loosened without a key.

On television and in films, handcuffing is often depicted as a routine activity. It is anything but that. The process of handcuffing a person creates an inherently dangerous exposure for the officer. The procedure requires the officer to be constantly aware of subtle changes in the arrestee's behavior. The officer must have searched the arrestee and be in complete physical control. The officer must also be in complete control of the handcuffs and apply them relatively quickly and smoothly. The handcuffs should be tight enough to prevent keep the arrestee's wrists from rotating but not so tight as to cause excessive pain or nerve damage.

Handcuffing is a procedure that must be properly learned in entry-level training and then frequently rehearsed during in-service training. The officer's handcuff technique should be retrained and rehearsed at least as regularly and diligently as his firearms training. Handcuff training and retraining should be documented as part of the officer's training record.

Trainers teach students to always (there are a very few specific exceptions, and none apply here) handcuff the person behind his back and handcuff the person with his palms out, thumbs up. Here is a link to a photo showing an in-custody with his hands cuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up using chain link handcuffs. Here is a link to a photo showing Enron's Ken Lay properly handcuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up. Notice, too, that the federal agent is holding on to him. That is a control measure that also enables her to catch him for safety should he start to fall.

The palms out, thumbs up, method rotates both arms to a less natural position and makes it nearly impossible for even the most limber person to maneuver his hands in front of him. In conjunction with properly applied hinged handcuffs, this technique is almost completely resistant to the arm repositioning maneuver Michael Madonna exercised on three occasions. Even if the in-custody is able to get his hands in front when cuffed palms out, thumbs up, his hands will still be palms out but thumbs down. This is an unnatural position for his hands and arms and will make it much more difficult for him to grasp an object and use it as a weapon.

If the in-custody has been incorrectly cuffed behind his back but with his palms in, thumbs down and if he is able to maneuver his hands in front of him, his hands will be in their natural (albeit handcuffed) position so they can more easily grip an object.

Even without handcuffs, the reader can position his own hands in both the palms-out and the palms-in positions to better understand the reason for the palms-out method being preferable.

I submitted several questions to the State of Idaho's Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Academy under the provisions of Idaho's Public Record Law. POST replied that it teaches the behind the back, palms out, thumbs up handcuff technique in its basic law enforcement academy classes attended by Bangs. Attendees are required to demonstrate proficiency and satisfactory performance of these handcuffing skills. Attendees are shown the advantages and disadvantages of various handcuffing techniques. Attendees are shown techniques that a handcuffed person could use to manipulate handcuffs open as well as techniques that a handcuffed person could use to move arms from behind the back to the front while handcuffed. POST also affirmed that KCSD Deputy Bangs successfully completed the Idaho POST Basic Patrol Academy.

An in-custody being transported in a one-man patrol car should be thoroughly searched and then handcuffed behind his back, palms out, thumbs up, cuffs appropriately tight and double locked. He should be seated in the right rear seat so he is not directly behind the driver, and his seatbelt should be fastened. The security screen should be locked in place. It is preferable that there be a second officer riding in the left rear seat as well to further control the arrestee.

Conclusions

My conclusions will comment on some of the issues that have been publicly raised by the shooting at Grouse Meadows. My conclusions are not in any order of priority.

News media

The press coverage, and The Spokesman Review newspaper’s coverage and editorial comments in particular, received considerable attention. In summary, the comments and allegations made by critics were:

  • The paper should not have published the involved deputies’ names until after they were officially released by the Sheriff’s office. The paper’s release of the deputies names violated an unspoken agreement between the Sheriff’s office and the press.
  • The paper used a law enforcement officer who wanted to remain unidentified as a source for one story. The source unethically provided information about an ongoing investigation.
  • The information provided to the paper was inaccurate.
  • The information provided to the paper reflected poorly on the deputies and officers involved.
  • The newspaper’s coverage served no immediate need to the public.
  • The newspaper’s coverage was disrespectful.

I’ll briefly address each of those six comments or criticisms.

  • Release of deputies names: When a person makes an occupational choice to be a law enforcement officer, he accepts that his on-duty conduct (and sometimes his off-duty conduct as well) will be scrutinized by the press and the public. If an officer or deputy believes that his occupational choice entitles him to some special treatment or consideration, I invite him to read Searching for Causes: Entitlement and Alienation as Precursors of Unethical Police Behaviour . If a prospective law enforcement officer is unwilling to accept that his official public behavior may become newsworthy, he should not choose law enforcement as an occupation. Law enforcement is an occupation, not a calling. It is an occupation that is, or should be, extremely difficult to enter and extremely easy to leave.

    Both the KCSD and the CdAPD have media representatives or public information officers (PIO) who, if they did their job, went to the Grouse Meadows shooting scene while the media was still there. It was the PIOs’ duty to request some information be withheld if they believed such a request was appropriate and defensible. Don’t blame the newspaper if the departmental PIOs did not do their jobs. If the Sheriff and Chief of Police did not meet with Editor Steve Smith immediately after his appointment as Editor to lay the groundwork for media access and cooperation at future incidents, then the Sheriff and Chief of Police failed to do their jobs.

  • Unidentified source: Journalists prefer not to use unidentified sources. On rare occasions, that is the only way to get timely information. The decision to use information from an unidentified source is made by an editor (or more than one after discussing the merits of using versus not using the information), not by a reporter. The disclosures made did not compromise the investigation being done by the ISP.

  • Information provided to paper was inaccurate: The January 5, 2005, article “Cuffed man shot officer” stated “...deputies Justin Bangs and Kevin Smart fired 26 times...” That reporting was inaccurate. They fired a total of 31 times.

  • Information provided to the paper reflected poorly on deputies: How? The news articles printed in The Spokesman Review were not critical of the deputies or the police. The news articles did not allege or even imply criminal violations, misconduct, or failure to perform duties by the deputies and officers.

  • Newspaper coverage served no immediate public need: Yes, it did. The Kootenai County Sheriff is an elected official accountable to the public. The public’s right to know through the exercise of a free press is how we perform our duty as citizens to oversee the conduct of our elected officials.

  • Press coverage was disrespectful to all involved: How? Reporting the public conduct of law enforcement officers, particularly when the conduct reported is during the performance of an official duty, is not disrespectful.

In its February 6, 2005, editorial, The Spokesman Review called for an independent investigation “...to analyze the policies that came into play in this shootout.” I agree with the paper's underlying intent to ensure the public has an opportunity to learn what happened, but I would prefer some sort of collaborative review. Often, this is called citizen oversight. As noted in the March 2001 study Citizen Review of Police – Approaches & Implementation, there are four general types of oversight systems:

  • Citizens investigate allegations of law enforcement misconduct and recommend findings to the chief or sheriff.

  • Law enforcement officers investigate allegations and develop findings; citizens review and recommend that the chief or sheriff approve or reject the findings.

  • Complainants may appeal findings established by the police or sheriff’s department to citizens, who review them and then recommend their own findings to the chief or sheriff.

  • An auditor investigates the process by which the police or sheriff’s department accepts and investigates complaints and reports on the thoroughness and fairness of the process to the department and the public.

Collaboration between the KCSD and the public, including the press, would probably meet the objectives intended by the newspaper’s call for an investigation.

The Spokesman Review was criticized for seeking and printing comments from Dr. Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist. Some in the community feel that because Dr. Alpert has never been a police officer, he is unqualified to research and report on police use of force. Those people should read the International Association of Chiefs of Police recommendations from its 2003 Roundtable Unresolved Problems & Powerful Potentials – Improving Partnerships Between Law Enforcement Leaders and University Based Researchers. The paper was published in August 2004.

Michael Madonna’s Conduct on December 28

Michael Madonna initiated a series of events that led to his own death. The ISP Report reveals that his behavior between December 17 and 28 was consistent with someone considering suicide. Persons with whom he was close saw these signs but either did not recognize them as warning signs or failed to encourage Madonna seek treatment that might have saved him.

On December 28 when Michael Madonna first maneuvered his handcuffed hands from behind him to his front, I believe he had formed the intent to cause law enforcement officers to take his life. His compliance when Deputy Bangs recuffed him behind his back may have been an act to prevent his being moved to a more confining environment such as the back of a patrol car. When Madonna again successfully moved his hands to the front and bolted for the connecting door, I believe that he was mentally and emotionally committed to making a “last stand”, to die there rather than return to jail.

Deputies Bangs’ and Smart’s Conduct

Deputy Bangs failed to properly control his prisoner, Michael Madonna, not once but twice. He had an absolute duty to control the prisoner so that Madonna could not hurt anyone else or himself. He did not perform that duty acceptably. Bangs was aware of Madonna’s near-escape from CdAPD on December 17, although he had been given incorrect information about the method of escape. On December 28 after Madonna successfully first moved his handcuffed hands from his back to his front, Bangs should have taken more positive measures to secure Madonna. He didn’t.

During the shootout, Deputy Bangs displayed acceptable fire discipline and performed according to his training. The ISP Report suggests that Bangs fired some rounds through a wall, a practice that is normally out of policy. However in this instance, it appears he fired only when he saw signs of a target (Michael Madonna) being present behind the wall at which he fired. For example, when he saw the revolver coming around the wall edge in handcuffed hands, he could reasonably approximate the bearer’s body position even though he couldn’t see the body. At that time, Madonna would have been fewer than 10 feet from Bangs. Deputy Bangs also did two “hot reloads”, reloading his weapon before it ran out of ammunition. This results from diligent reloading drills on the range. It is a good practice, because it allowed Bangs to select the safest and most opportune times to reload.

During the shootout, Deputy Bangs was in the foyer, Deputy Smart was behind the left rear of the car in the garage, and Madonna was in the living room. The angles, as represented in the drawing in the ISP Report, suggest that Deputy Bangs was very close to being caught in a crossfire if Smart and Madonna fired at each other.

During the shootout Deputy Bangs fired 17 rounds and Deputy Smart fired 14 rounds. There is no indication in the ISP Report that either Bangs or Smart fired carelessly or inappropriately. All their rounds were in the direction of an armed assailant and appeared to have been fired intending to hit him. Once they determined he had been hit and no longer presented a threat to them or anyone else, they ceased their firing.

In his review of the shootout, Prosecutor Douglas twice used the term “suppressive fire”. It may have been used by Bangs or Smart in their interviews with the ISP, but I have been unable to locate it in the ISP Report. Prosecutor Douglas should have explained how he defined that term.

In military parlance, suppressive fire is directed in the general direction of an enemy to “keep their heads down” while the shooter’s own troops move. “Suppressive fire” is not typically taught in basic law enforcement academies, however it is taught in some specialized unit training to be used under very closely controlled circumstances. Regardless of its meaning, the ISP Report does not indicate that either deputy engaged in “suppressive fire.” Every indication is that both deputies were firing at Michael Madonna or (in Bangs’ case) at a spot where he could reasonably conclude Madonna was standing while pointing a gun around the corner at the deputies. Even if Smart had used “suppressive fire”, Bangs only movement would have been into the doorway through which Smart would have been firing. That Deputy Smart did not engage in suppressive fire may have prevented Deputy Bangs from being hit as he moved from the foyer to join Smart in the garage.

Officer Kralicek’s Conduct

The CdAPD needs to determine why Officer Kralicek chose to draw his Taser rather than his sidearm when he entered Madonna’s house. Was Officer Kralicek distracted in unholstering and preparing the Taser so that he did not see Madonna's gun as quickly as he might have?

Officer Kralicek was carrying three non-lethal weapons on his belt: the Taser, an Asp, and O.C. spray. Each of those devices is (or should be) covered by a departmental policy and requires proper training and retraining to maintain use proficiency. Each device, with its accompanying policy, has decision boundaries. Use the Taser in these situations but not others. Use the Asp in these situations but not others. Use the O.C. in these decisions but not others.

My concern is that as the assortment of non-lethal weapons proliferate, the officers are being forced to spend more time in making decisions. Granted, that time is dramatically reduced with careful and thorough training and retraining, but time is time. In this case, Michael Madonna had already made the decision what he was going to do when he entered the house. He was going to get his gun, turn, and shoot. It seems likely that Officer Kralicek had made the decision to use the Taser before he saw the gun in Madonna’s hands. Otherwise, Kralicek would have drawn his own gun and not the Taser. So what in Officer Kralicek’s training caused him to respond the way he did? The CdAPD needs to seriously look at that.

KCSD and CdAPD Institutional Conduct

If, as it appears, the reason Michael Madonna was able to relocate his hands from back to front twice on December 28 was because he had been improperly handcuffed, it is unlikely that was the first time Deputy Bangs had improperly handcuffed a prisoner. He was taught the proper method at the POST Academy. He was taught why the method is correct, and he was shown how prisoners escape when they’ve been improperly handcuffed. So why did he improperly handcuff Michael Madonna, if he did?

The short answer may be because the KCSD tolerated it.

If the KCSD, from Sheriff Watson down through his command level to the field supervisors to the training officers to the jailers who saw prisoners being brought in improperly cuffed didn’t correct Deputy Bangs, he can hardly be disciplined for having done what was tacitly condoned by supervisors.

The near-escape of Michael Madonna on December 17 was a major officer safety issue. It should have triggered a rapid and thorough information exchange at least between CdAPD and the POST Academy. The technique Madonna used to nearly escape should have been clearly and completely conveyed to POST, even if it embarrassed the CdAPD. CdAPD should also have notified all local law enforcement agencies of Madonna’s skill and maneuverability and the technique he used.

Even if CdAPD did not initiate an information exchange, all local agencies including KCSD should have sought the information. Clearly some information was being exchanged informally at some level: Bangs had been given incorrect information about the escape. And it’s fair to ask: If Deputy Bangs had been formally given the correct information in roll call or in-service training about how Madonna nearly escaped on December 17, would he have controlled Madonna differently on December 28? I’m betting he would have.

Sheriff Rocky Watson can hardly minimize the importance of regular roll-call and in-service training for his deputies. He’s the current Vice-Chairman of the POST Council. To quote from the Idaho POST Academy’s website:

The POST Council members represent law enforcement and organizations within the law enforcement community. Our principle purpose is to enforce the training education and employment standards of peace officers. Members are appointed by the Governor and serve for a four-year term. Members receive no compensation but are reimbursed for travel and per diem expenses. Appointment to the Council is considered an honor and members are conscientious and work hard for the refinement of law enforcement in our state.
ADDENDUM: It is impossible to overstate the thoroughness, impartiality, and professionalism that went into the ISP's conduct of the investigation and its subsequent report. Skeptics sometimes question whether fellow law enforcement officers can and will objectively investigate comrades. A thorough study of the ISP's report should reassure even the harshest skeptics. From crime scene discipline, security, and logging to the final report, the ISP's investigation was as good as any you will ever see.

3 Comments:

Blogger Happy X. Dopey said...

Thank you for the good and complete overview of the situation. With a few small exceptions, I agree with you completely. The only thing I would add to anyone who might feel that the officers should have retreated and avoided the conflict with Madonna, I would say that option was clearly unavailable at this point for a variety of reasons (not the least of which was Kralicek being injured in the garage-retreating might involve leaving him behind or causing further injury). In regards to the use, deployment, and training with less-lethal weapons (taser, OC, baton, etc.) you bring up some valid points. Clearly, as these types of options grow, training will need to grow with them. One of the issues is that the majority of these options are deployed with the officers main or gun hand which prevents (or at least delays) the use of their firearm. Training should address this issue to allow officers to be prepared. In regards to further training, hopefully the Sheriff's Department will seriously consider its policies and training in regards to what can be called poor judgement, at best, in relation to restraint of Madonna. Finally, while I felt the Spokesman-Review articles were in somewhat poor taste and tone, I did not have a major problem with them. My only issue was with Dr. Alpert's willingness to comment on the issue with only some of the facts. If I were in his position, I would be hesitant to comment on something without having all of the information. Perhaps he hedged his comments or only based them on what he was told, however, the statements he made reflected poorly on the officer's judgement (specifically reference firing through a wall). I think it would have been more appropriate to either withhold comment or to clearly state that the comments were provisional pending the final report. This did not happen and I am unsure if the fault lies with Dr. Alpert or with the Spokesman editorial board.

1:00 AM, March 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate this thorough overview of this situation. I too had the same questions as you've raised here. I completely believe that Michael went into this situation with the intent to have his life taken. I believe from talking to him on the phone the week prior, that he felt his life was over anyway. He sounded highly depressed and felt there was no way out of his current situation. But, I feel lives could have been saved if the officers at the scene had used the proper procedures. It's obvious even if they weren't given the correct information on Michael's near escape from previous, that after the first time he was able to get the cuffs in front of him, there might have been different procedures followed. I feel that Mr. Kracelik would not have had to deal with the terrible injury that he endured and the years of rehabilitation he and his family had to go through. Their lives have been turned upside down, and I feel it's because of the lack of attention the other officers showed at the scene. They are held to a higher standard when they embark in their current careers, they should be held to these high standards or have consequences. There was a precious life lost and many others changed because of the errors they made that night.

1:14 PM, April 28, 2009  
Blogger jack mechal said...

These cuffs are great although they don't allow much play as chain cuffs do. They are durable and can with stand the desert wheather.I have bought handcuffs before and many times they failed because of sand getting wegded in the cuff. I haven't had a problem with these ones.
chiefsupply.com/search/handcuffs.aspx

9:14 AM, September 10, 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home