CAUGHT A GLIMPSE of the elephant in Spokane’s living room the other day. It came in the form of an email from a friend responding to “America’s Most Dangerous Cop.” That post is about the refusal of Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to investigate the death of Jo Ellen Savage in the River Park Square parking garage.
“Dear Larry,” wrote my friend. “I have met Anne and spent time with her in professional settings and I ‘NO WAY’ believe this is the truth about her. Anne is a wonderful woman with wonderful ethics and deep good values.”
In no way does former Pend Oreille County Sheriff Tony Bamonte agree with that assessment of Kirkpatrick’s ethics and values. Bamonte contends that the circumstances surrounding Savage’s death represent “the best evidence of first-degree manslaughter I have ever seen.” He says Kirkpatrick’s refusal to investigate it is illegal. Based on several thousand pages of evidence he has presented to every relevant level of government and law enforcement between the Spokane River and Puget Sound, between the Spokane and Potomac Rivers, Sheriff Bamonte accuses Chief Kirkpatrick of covering up the organized criminal activity of Spokane’s powerful Cowles family, one of America’s last media dynasties. The Cowleses, of course, own the RPS garage, where a wall failed in 2006, catapulting Savage, screaming inside her car, five stories to her death before the eyes of horrified onlookers. (See “Death by Parking” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com.
“First-degree manslaughter is a form of murder,” says Bamonte. “That means Savage was murdered.”
Who murdered her? Specific members of the Cowles family, he charges, who allowed the hazardous condition that claimed Savage’s life to go unrepaired for at least 16 years before she died. A sworn affidavit by the garage’s former manager proves this, he says. (See “Deathtrap” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com.)
Chief Kirkpatrick has now made herself an accessory to Savage’s death by protecting Cowles family members from being prosecuted for it, says Bamonte.
I understand my friend’s upset. Bamonte’s charges would be outrageous if not supported by the facts. But they are supported by the facts—ugly, messy, terrible facts—which is one of three reasons I think my friend is misguided.
My friend copied the note she sent me to Stacey Cowles, publisher of his family’s Spokesman-Review newspaper, Chief Kirkpatrick, Mayor Mary Verner, the Spokane City Council, and many others. That’s why I’m responding in this public fashion.
I admire my friend. I actually consider her to be “a wonderful woman with wonderful ethics and deep good values.” Why? Because of the things I’ve seen her do for others. I know her by her acts of compassion. The evidence supports my opinion of her.
Her compassion, I suspect, is the second reason for her misguided defense of Kirkpatrick. My friend obviously thinks I was unfair to the chief.
Again—I have to repeat it—I don’t think the evidence supports my friend’s opinion of Chief Kirkpatrick. That evidence is contained in “America’s Most Dangerous Cop.” Follow the links to the facts. They are threads that weave a tapestry telling of the sad end of Jo Savage’s life. I think you will see why I intended for that title to be as clear as it is.
Evidence is all I have to go by. Journalists, like police officers and other public servants, are supposed to be disciplined by it. I’m attempting to follow the evidence. I don’t think Chief Kirkpatrick and my friend are. They have lots of company in fleeing the scene of the Savage crime. I name some of their company—public officials from Spokane to Olympia to the White House—in “America’s Most Dangerous Cop.” Because so many public officials have ignored the evidence of what killed Jo Ellen Savage, hers is one of the loneliest deaths I know of. Society marks graves of unknown soldiers more respectfully than hers.
The elephant in the living room—that’s what those who minister to the human psyche call a problem we don’t want to talk about. Problems like alcoholism, family abuse of all kinds, etc., are common elephants in the living room. Thinking of them can fill us with such despair that it makes it hard to breath. So we put them out of our minds.
“Denial” is what we commonly call this psychological trick. But if the word connotes weakness, cowardice, dishonesty, etc., it is both too simplistic and harsh, I think, to describe what’s really going on. At least it is according to Daniel Goleman.
In his brilliant book, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, Goleman points out that denial is Mother Nature’s way of protecting us from the “cognitive static” caused by anxiety.
“The essence of anxiety is the intrusion of distress into physical and mental channels that should be clear,” writes Goleman. “A nagging worry invades sleep, keeping one awake half the night. A persistent fear imposes itself into one’s thoughts, distracting from the business at hand.”
So nature equips us with this free peripheral that actually creates psychological blind spots that are every bit as real as the physical blind spots caused by our optic nerves. The psychological blind spots that make the menacing rogue elephants of life disappear are so powerful we don’t even know we have them. They’re unconscious. This is what Goleman writes so hauntingly about in Vital Lies.
This means that if you are a little child coming to consciousness in a harsh environment confronting you with a physical and/or emotional threat that you are powerless to manage, this ingenious trick we call denial can go a long way toward blotting it out.
Voila! No elephant. No cognitive static. No dripping cortisol—the stress hormone—to wear out your vital organs with stress-mediated diseases. In the china shop of the human heart, this can be a tender mercy.
I think Spokane’s living room elephant may be the third reason for my friend’s misguided defense of Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.
Why is Chief Kirkpatrick so dangerous? Because some elephants will kill you. The evidence suggests to me that Spokane’s elephant of public corruption is what killed Jo Ellen Savage. (Please see “Deathtrap” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com.)
And the exhaustive evidence amassed by Sheriff Bamonte shows that Spokane Police Chief Kirkpatrick is covering for this rogue whose century-old rampage will assuredly continue until the public itself decides to contain it, and figures out how.
Those wanting a closer look at the elephant in Spokane’s living room may want to study some of Sheriff Bamonte’s snapshots of it. You’ll find a few in the attached documents.
A 5-page index sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, showing documentary evidence of Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick “rendering criminal assistance.” (E-118a)
August 18, 2007 letter from Tony Bamonte to Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, requesting a first-degree manslaughter investigation in the Savage death. (E-4)
January 11, 2008 letter from Tony Bamonte to Anne Kirkpatrick, asking about lack of investigation into the Savage manslaughter complaint, including NOT contacting over 15 witnesses, the lack of jurisdiction of the FBI, and the running out of the statute of limitations. (E-25)
January 14, 2008 letter from Anne Kirkpatrick to Tony Bamonte, noting the manslaughter complaint was sent to the FBI, because of the charge of public corruption. (E-26)
January 15, 2008 letter from Tony Bamonte to Anne Kirkpatrick, noting that the heart of the original August 18, 2007 complaint was first-degree manslaughter, not public corruption, and that a public danger persists in the Cowles parking garage. (E-27)
September 16, 2008 letter from Tony Bamonte to Anne Kirkpatrick, requesting a review of evidence and a briefing with legal counsel, the mayor and city council, citing legal duties to investigate. (E-68)
February 2, 2009 letter from Tony Bamonte to Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, regarding Tucker’s dereliction of duty in investigating the Jo Savage death, after federal prosecutors referred the case to him. (E-83)