A man who served as a Cathedral City police officer for 13 years told Spokane Valley police investigators that a suspect died after he used a specialized fight maneuver on him, according to Spokane police investigators.
Brian Hirzel is currently under investigation for the deadly shooting of a Spokane, Wash., nursery caretaker while on duty there.
Investigators said Hirzel, who is now a deputy with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department, was responding to a prowling report in Spokane Valley and parked his patrol car in the parking lot of the Plant Farm, a local nursery.
The store’s owner, Wayne Scott Creach, who is also a local pastor, came outside to see who had parked in his parking lot, according to his wife, and got into an argument with the deputy.
His wife told investigators she heard a scuffle outside and finally a gunshot.
Hirzel’s firearm had been fired, according to sheriff’s investigators, and Creach later died from his injuries.
As part of the investigation, on September 9, a member of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office evaluation team told investigators Hirzel admitted to them that he had used force in the line of duty many times. He used a Taser, his baton, a tactic called Level II Strikes and a maneuver called the Carotid.
The Carotid is a choke-hold that often deprives the body of oxygen, making a subject more compliant, according to San Diego’s Custody Death Task Force.
In fact, the city of San Diego’s police department banned the practice after seven suspects died while being apprehended using the technique.
Hirzel admitted to Spokane police that a suspect he was subduing in Cathedral City also died when he used the technique.
According to the Spokane police report, investigators contacted Cathedral City Police Lieutenant Chuck Robinson who confirmed the incident happened about 15 years ago, which launched a criminal investigation into Hirzel.
The case was later forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office, where there were no charges pressed.
Lt. Robinson also told investigators there was no internal investigation conducted in the Cathedral City Police Department, and refused to give investigators any more information.