By Donna Westfall
At 11:30 am, Wednesday, February 19th, Fred Hansen was awoken from sleep by two Sheriff’s Deputies. They asked him if he could accompany them to the Sheriff’s Department to discuss his complaint filed on January 21st against Det. Richard Griffin. Fred complied, but first he contacted me by phone. I was in a meeting on another case involving corruption having to do with another matter in town and couldn’t take his call. Within 5 minutes I got back to him, asked if he wanted me present in the meeting. He said, “Yes,” and I drove down to the Sheriff’s Department on 5th Street in Crescent City.
Once there, I picked up the phone to dispatch, identified myself and let her know I was there to sit in on Fred Hansen’s meeting with Commander Tim Athey. She advised me to have a seat and while I waited I notified family and friends where I was and asked Linda Sutter to join me. I also texted Sheriff Erik Apperson at 11:51 am letting him know why I was there.
If you refer to the original story a month ago (“When and How to File A Complaint With the Sheriff’s Office Part 1” published January 21, 2015), it states that Griffin was not given permission to enter Fred’s premises.
According to Fred’s account of his follow-up meeting on February 19th, he was shown a video which he said looked like and sounded like he gave them permission. He was then asked to withdraw his complaint otherwise he would be charged with a misdemeanor. Feeling fearful and intimidated, Fred signed to withdraw his complaint. The thought never entered his mind that the video could have been edited or altered.
Now, let’s clarify. I was never brought in to their meeting. When Fred was released we asked about a copy of the video and we were told to come back at 1:00 pm to talk with Commander Athey. Promptly at 1:00, we went back to the Sheriff’s Department. Commander Athey came out and said he was not going to meet with us. I handed him copies of our public records request for all video and audio recordings from January 16th and from February 19th.
Linda Sutter stated to Commander Athey that she thought it was handled wrong. It sounded like they detained Fred by going to his home rather than calling for an appointment, then had him ride in the back of their vehicle and brought him down for an interrogation. While Fred, Linda and I were there, Commander Athey made it sound like Fred never asked for me to be present in their meeting and was never made aware that I was waiting in the lobby. Athey made it clear that there was not going to be another meeting because it was “a personnel matter and a private personal complaint authored by Mr. Hansen.” And, they were not going to rescind the paperwork they had Fred sign which withdrew his original complaint.
While Linda Sutter tried to make her points with Athey, (who stands a good foot taller than Linda) he leaned in and let her know in no uncertain terms, with his finger pointing at her, that she didn’t know what she was talking about.
Our level of mistrust of our Sheriff’s department is growing exponentially at this point as they looked like, sounded like and behaved like sneaky, conniving bullies instead of professional law enforcement.
The questions that need to be answered:
Who was the Deputy that accompanied Det. Griffin on January 16th and searched Fred’s home? Despite my many requests for this information including a copy of the duty roster, nothing has been provided. Who is Scott Norris who made some comments on the original article, and is he with the Sheriff’s Department? Why didn’t Commander Athey call and make an appointment with Fred instead of just showing up at his house on February 19th? Was it their intention to intimidate Fred? Why didn’t they allow me to sit in on their meeting? Since the video shown to Fred on February 19th is so different from the report made by Fred Hansen on January 16th, was the video edited or altered in any way? Was there one video or two video’s made, (one from each officer)? Did Commander Athey ever interview any of the witnesses and neighbors from the January 16th incident? Will Sheriff Apperson question the way his office is doing business, or should we start questioning whether or not we make a mistake in supporting him? Or are we just too impatient to see all the changes we hoped would happen quickly.
Just remember that if law enforcement comes to your home, like they did to Fred Hansen, you have the right to say, “No, I do not want to go with you.”
Fred didn’t realize he had a choice.