A month ago, I wrote about Ryan Holyk
, the 15-year-old Spokane Valley kid who loved Mountain Dew, stunt bikes and video games. Ryan died June 6, 2014, after an encounter at Sprague and Vista Road in the Spokane Valley. Spokane Sheriff's Deputy Joe Bodman was doing 70 on Sprague toward Vista Road without lights or a siren. He was on his way to help another officer. Ryan and a buddy were on their way home when the two paths crossed. We still don't know for sure what happened next.
The Sheriff's Office, armed with three investigations by law enforcement agencies, says Bodman missed Ryan by about a foot. Ryan's family isn't convinced. The Rattlesnakes Motorcycle Club, a group that calls itself a police accountability organization, isn't convinced either.
Earlier this week, the Sheriff's Office released two reconstruction videos
built with the results of the investigations that were already released. Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says the videos were released in response to the Rattlesnakes' latest social media announcement.
"It's simply time for the citizens to see this is what the investigation came out with," Knezovich says.
A few days ago, the Rattlesnakes, led by member Scott Maclay, announced "Operation Bouncing Bodman's Volleyballs" on their Facebook page, which entails filming themselves throwing volleyballs in front of squad cars all in the name of Ryan Holyk and creating a mutual respect between law enforcement and the community. Maclay says the volleyballs are symbolic of children at play and are intended to provoke law enforcement to slow down. Reached by phone this morning, Maclay was busy painting the volleyballs teal — Ryan's favorite color.
Maclay has spoken out against Knezovich
in the past and has been involved in other controversial issues
Both stories — the volleyballs and the reconstruction videos — were reported in the Spokesman
and on local TV
news websites, and now the tragic death of a kid who was just having some fun with his buddies one summer night has turned into a circus.
Amid the back and forth between the Sheriff's Office and the gang of volleyball-launching bikers, I can't help but think of how Ryan's family and friends feel. The public's memory of the goofy kid, who hated to lose at Monopoly but loved strawberry milk, is overshadowed by moronic stunts and victim-blaming.
There is one place his memory is safe, though. You can see it in his mother's face when she talks about how he used to call her "Shaniqua Cinnabon" (her name is Carrie). It's with his crew that still gathers at his house to mimic the weird animal sounds he used to belt out or laugh at the Hot Pocket stains still on the wall from the time he got mad. And it's in his dad's trembling lip as he describes his son's fearlessness. "He'd jump off of any rock there was. Speed was nothin' to him."
Ryan's family has organized a 5K in his honor. Ryan's Ramble
takes place June 20, and supports Lids for Kids, a program that promotes helmet safety.