Sheriff’s guild won’t appeal detective’s firing

He tried to blame death of son, 3, on stepdaughter

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A Clark County sheriff’s guild leadership on Friday afternoon chose not to appeal the termination of Detective Ed Owens.

The decision by the guild board came after reviewing police reports and internal affairs reports relating to the yearlong investigation of Owens. The former detective and his wife were the subject of an investigation after their 3-year-old son’s 2010 accidental shooting death.

The investigation found that Owens tried to blame his 11-year-old stepdaughter for the death and coerced a false confession from her. He was fired Nov. 29.

The board also met Friday with Owens, who gave a statement on his own behalf.

With respect to the guild’s decision, “they considered what they did to be objective-based, not emotionally based,” said Mark Makler, attorney for the guild.

Makler declined to give further comment on what led to the guild’s decision. Under terms of a labor agreement, guild leadership always has the option to arbitrate a termination for one of its members.

When reached by telephone Friday evening, Owens said he had not heard the news. “I guess my only comment is that I’m disappointed in that decision,” he said.

An internal affairs investigation found the seven-year veteran of the sheriff’s office violated policies on proper firearms storage, off-duty conduct, ethics, competency and employee responsibilities in connection to the Sept. 14, 2010, shooting death of Owens’ son, Ryan.

Gunshot wound to head

The boy had wandered into his parents’ closet, opened the gun safe and picked up a loaded Kel-Tec pistol when the gun went off, according to police reports. Ryan suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Vancouver police detectives investigating the case found that the safe was malfunctioning — sometimes not locking when it should — and that the Owenses knew about the defect. However, Owens has denied knowing about the malfunction.

Following the shooting, Owens and his wife, Kristie, persistently blamed the 11-year-old, who had been watching Ryan and had fallen asleep, according to police reports. They reported that the girl had shown signs of homicidal violence.

About a month after the shooting, police said the couple forced the girl to confess to the death and made a video for detectives, which investigators later ruled was doctored.

Reports were forwarded to Multnomah County, Ore., prosecutors because the incident occurred in Portland when the family was on the way to the airport.

Prosecutors there declined to press charges against the Owenses.

Laura McVicker: http://www.twitter.com/col_courts; http://www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.