Court hearing this week for Winthrop marshal
Suspended Winthrop Marshal Dan Tindall will appear in Okanogan County Superior Court this week to ask for a stay of his decertification as a peace office in Washington state.
Tindall was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday (Nov. 21) at 10:30 a.m., according to his attorney, Jim David of Vancouver, Washington.
David said the petition he filed asks the court to review the proceedings that led to the recent revocation of Tindall’s peace officer certification by the Criminal Justice and Training Commission (CJTC), a state board that establishes standards for law enforcement officers.
“The petition for review presents the first opportunity for the matter to be reviewed by a court,” David said in email. “We believe a proper judicial review of the allegations made and an examination of the statements given will clear Dan Tindall.”
The CJTC revocation order was issued in late October after an administrative hearing in Burien in mid-October. The CJTC had filed a statement of charges seeking to revoke Tindall’s peace officer certification on Feb. 13 of this year, “on the basis that he was discharged from the WSP [Washington State Patrol] for disqualifying misconduct” in 2015, according to the CJTC revocation order.
The revocation order refers to an incident dating back to 2015, in which Tindall — then a WSP trooper — was accused of making false or misleading statements related to the investigation of his son for alleged criminal activity. In August 2015, Tindall retired from the WSP after 25 years of service. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor criminal charge in the case involving attempted arson charges against his teenage son Wyatt, who was suspected of setting a vehicle on fire.
The statement of charges the CJTC filed in February alleged that Tindall “was discharged [from the Washington State Patrol] for disqualifying conduct.” Tindall’s alleged actions “included conduct constituting a crime involving dishonesty or false statement,” the charging statement said.
In an email, David pointed to several discrepancies between information the CJTC used to make its decertification decision and Tindall’s version of events.
“The allegation is that Dan made a false statement regarding what he saw in a video that was shown to him [as part of the investigation of his son],” David said. “As explained in the case and pleadings, Dan was contacted by Olympia Police and asked to help them investigate his own son, in violation of Olympia Police policies and procedures — that you don’t get involved in investigating your own family.
“An officer nevertheless forwarded two videos to Dan, a few seconds long each,” David continued. “The video was a low-light surveillance camera that produces a grey scale image. The video shows a person wearing a coat, pants and a stocking cap pulled over the person’s face. It is not possible to see the person’s face in the video, but it is possible to tell that the person was wearing glasses.”
David noted that Tindall’s son does not wear glasses.
“It is not possible to identify any person in the video,” David said.
Tindall’s son Wyatt and a friend, Kai — who was living part-time the Tindalls at the time — “look almost identical,” David said. Both boys were infatuated with the daughter of the owner of the vehicle that was set afire, David said.
“Dan was shown the video and could not tell who was on it,” David said in the email. “Dan suspected it may be one of either Kai or Wyatt based on their contacts with the daughter of the owner of the car, and the fact that an officer had asked him to look and try to identify his son in the video.
“Dan confronted Wyatt who denied it,” David continued. “Unbeknownst to Dan, Mrs. Tindall actually located the stocking cap and confronted Wyatt, who laughed at her. She did not tell Dan, because she knew he would turn Wyatt in to the police.”
Met with detectives
A few days later, Tindall was at work when he was ordered by his superiors at the WSP to meet with Olympia detectives, David said.
“He was ordered by WSP supervisors to go talk to them about his son,” David said. “When questioned, Dan was asked what he thought when he first saw the video. His response was ‘I hoped to god it wasn’t my kid.’ Later he was asked if he recognized his son in the video. He replied, ‘I thought it may possibly be.’ He also was shown enlargements of a coat taken from the video and said that it looks like his son’s coat.”
“These were not false or misleading statements,” David said. “They were the actual statements made in response to the questions asked. Dan did deny seeing a stocking cap.”
In a Methow Valley News interview in August 2017, Tindall said his son and the friend had similar physical builds and the surveillance video was poor quality, and the image could have been of either boy.
David noted that the CJTC hearings may rely on evidence that would not be admissible in a court, such as hearsay evidence. “Such evidence would never be allowed in a court,” he said.
As well, David asserted, “During the [CJTC] hearing, the officer who was conducting the investigation conceded that his sworn police report was inaccurate and misleading. He had written that the girl immediately recognized Wyatt in the video. That was patently false. An audio recording of the interview revealed that the girl did not identify him. It was only late in the conversation, after they suggested reasons why Wyatt would commit the offense that she agreed it may be him.”
David said that the Olympia police officers involved in the case “ testified that they did not feel there was a basis to charge Dan with the crime of False or Misleading Statement and they did not refer the matter for consideration of charging him with a crime based on the statements.”
And, David said, “The Washington State Patrol, which was in charge of the investigation, provided a sworn statement that they knew of no reason that Dan’s certification should be revoked.”
“The hearings in these cases are conducted by non-lawyers with the chair being a community college instructor,” David said. “There is no judge and no legal instructions, similar to a jury instructions, given to the panel.”
Lots of support
Tindall is supported by numerous law enforcement officers, agencies and citizens, David said. “Former Gov. [Christine] Gregoire and her husband, and others offered support for him in the hearing and requested the panel not revoke his certification,” David said.
At the CJTC hearing, Tindall testified on his own behalf and submitted testimony offered by his wife, Melissa, Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow, former Winthrop Mayor Rick Northcott (who hired Tindall to be marshal) and retired WSP trooper Elmer Schick.
Tindall also submitted exhibits, and requested the case be dismissed on the grounds of insufficient notice and insufficient evidence, but the panel’s presiding member denied those motions.
Winthrop Mayor Sally Ranzau said earlier that the town has placed Tindall on a 30-day civil service suspension with pay pending the decertification review. Ranzau said that Tindall was placed on leave because of his exemplary service to the town since he was hired as marshal in August 2017.
While the revocation order is in effect, Tindall cannot act as marshal. The town has two full-time deputies, Doug Johnson and Ken Bajema, both hired by Tindall since he took over as marshal last year.
If the revocation order stands, Tindall could not file for reinstatement as a peace office until five years after the order was issued.
Tindall was hired to bring some needed stability to the marshal’s position. At the time, former Winthrop Mayor Rick Northcott said he thoroughly vetted Tindall’s background and concluded that the former trooper would be a good match for Winthrop.
Northcott said input from people who know Tindall and his own assessment made him feel comfortable about “the high character of this man.”
Tindall’s 25 years with the state patrol included more than 12 years on the executive protection unit. He is only one of 11 Washington troopers awarded the Award of Honor, the state patrol’s highest recognition for an outstanding act of valor. He has owned property in the Methow Valley for more than two decades. He lived here from 1995 to 2002 when he was assigned as a state trooper to Okanogan County.
Tindall has earned supportive reviews from town officials and residents since he took the marshal’s position. In an earlier interview Mayor Ranzau said, “We want to keep him [Tindall]. He’s a good officer. He’s been so positive that we would hate to lose him.”