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News / Clark County News

Vancouver police sergeant files counter complaint in case over BLM, Patriot Prayer comments

Dueling probes between officer, city attorney continues

By Jerzy Shedlock, Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published: January 8, 2021, 6:05am

A Vancouver Police Department sergeant being investigated internally for alleged comments he made about Patriot Prayer and Black Lives Matter responded by filing a complaint against the city attorney who prompted the action.

According to emails obtained through a public records request, Sgt. Pat Moore sent the written complaint against Vancouver City Attorney Jonathan Young to the city of Vancouver’s manager and human resources director on Oct. 20. The Columbian recently received the emails after filing its request Nov. 19.

Moore states in the complaint that Young carried out “retaliation, conflicts of interest and ethics violations” in relation to conversations they had about protests in front of the city attorney’s home in late June, and whether the involved groups should face legal consequences for intimidating a public servant.

“Based on my interaction and discussions with Mr. Young, I believe Mr. Young’s conduct (is) inconsistent with the degree of knowledge, preparation and neutrality that I have grown accustomed to observing from members of the City of Vancouver Attorney’s Office,” Moore wrote.

The battle between the two city employees began when Young emailed Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain on Aug. 28 to inform him the city was closing its files in the case against Kelly C. Carroll — who was accused of violating Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order by reopening her pet grooming shop in May. The city tossed the case against Carroll due to newly discovered evidence that showed she had taken proactive steps to make her business essential.

Young further stated that in closing out the case, he needed to share information about Special Investigations Sgt. Moore and comments Moore made during a defense interview.

Moore allegedly said he was familiar with Joey Gibson, founder of right-wing group Patriot Prayer, and something to the effect of, Gibson is “not the problem.” The sergeant elaborated further, stating Gibson attracts an unwelcome crowd, specifically antifa and Black Lives Matter, according to city emails. Gibson and others planned the protests in front of Young’s and another city attorney’s homes while the criminal case against Carroll was pending.

Young said his attempts to get a recording of the interview from Carroll’s defense attorney had been unsuccessful, but he was present during the interview and believed his typed notes were accurate.

In his complaint, Moore said that during a June meeting with Young, they spoke for two hours. Discussions included Moore’s take on information he’d gathered about People’s Rights Washington, which bills itself as an organization that stands up for people whose constitutional rights have been violated but has been called an “alt-right” extremist group in some news reports, and Gibson, as well as state law pertaining to the charge of intimidating a public servant. The two groups rallied around Carroll and her business.

“Since there were numerous protesters I asked Mr. Young who he thought should be arrested, and he responded, the organizers of the event. I informed Mr. Young that based on the elements set forth in (state law), I didn’t believe there was probable cause. He disagreed with me and requested I forward my report to” the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Moore said. He wrote he later learned, through an assistant police chief, that the prosecutor’s office agreed with his assessment.

The sergeant wrote he has monitored and observed various groups — Patriot Prayer, antifa, Black Lives Matter, People’s Rights Washington, Proud Boys, among others — as part of his duties. This information is shared with Special Investigations Unit officers and allows for the police department to respond to protests with proper staffing, he said.

Moore said his comments from the meeting with Young were not based on personal opinion but on his professional opinion.

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In late July, Moore participated in a defense interview for the case against Carroll. Her defense attorney Angus Lee asked questions about a BLM protest at Esther Short Park and blocking of the Interstate 5 Bridge by marchers in June, as well as tactics used by police in response. Moore’s complaint says he objected to the relevance of the questions, but Young said it was within the scope of the investigation and requested he continue answering them, leading to further comments on various groups and eventually, Young filing a complaint against Moore with the police department.

“I believe this is an unwarranted attack on my credibility and also believe Mr. Young attempted to use his position of authority in attempt to influence me to file criminal charges on event organizers, in which he sees himself as a victim. … He had a conflict of interest given his personal interests, and yet he continued without recusing himself.” Moore wrote.

The police department confirmed in October it had opened an internal investigation on Moore’s comments. A department spokeswoman said in an email Wednesday the investigation is ongoing and expected to be completed at the end of the month.

Young’s actions are also being looked into. Records show the city retained an outside investigator to complete an employment investigation. Lisa M. Takach, the city’s director of human resources, told Young that during the fact-finding process, he is not allowed to share information with anyone, and whatever he provides will only be shared with others on a need-to-know basis, according to city emails.

Young was set to meet with the investigator in November, but it is unclear if the meeting occurred. The Vancouver Public Records Center did not release additional documentation, stating related reports will not be available until the investigation is completed. A records supervisor said Wednesday there is no timeline for when that will be.

Columbian Breaking News Reporter