Spokane police officer caught cursing at suspect on camera files complaint against leaker

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Officer Chris McMurtrey
  • Officer Chris McMurtrey

Spokane Police Officer Chris McMurtrey has filed a complaint against whomever leaked details about his expletive-laden rant unleashed on a suspect in the back of his patrol vehicle.

SPD Chief Craig Meidl confirms that the complaint seeking discipline for a potential internal leaker has been filed. Investigators are still looking into the "improper release of information" allegations, he says.

"Confidential is confidential, and in law enforcement, you don't get to release information just because it's juicy," Meidl says. Any potential discipline could range from suspension to termination.

The leak in question led citizen journalist and retired SPD detective Brian Breen to request a copy of the internal investigation and body camera video of McMurtrey's conduct.

City Councilman Breean Beggs invoked McMurtrey's conduct in a discussion with police about their decision to replace complete internal affairs investigations posted online with summaries of the cases.

Beggs criticized the department for taking a "big step backward" from transparency and says the summary is "pretty tame" when compared to the body camera footage.

"What happens right now is someone calls Brian Breen and says 'Hey, go request that one,'" Beggs says. "That should not be the way it happens."

On the night in question in 2016, McMurtrey drives a domestic violence suspect to jail, and the two men trade insults and threats. At times during the drive, McMurtrey goads the suspect, calling him "dumb shit," a "little f—-ing bitch" and a "punk." After the suspect, who is identified in body camera footage as Lonnie Lacy, threatens to shoot McMurtrey, the officer stops the car, walks to the back and points his finger in the man's face.

"You better watch your f—-king mouth, you understand me?" he says. "Do not threaten to shoot me."

As the officer pulls into the jail sally port, he tells jail staff through an intercom: "City with an uncooperative, I think it's a male. Yet to be determined."

The body camera does not capture most of what the suspect says, but McMurtrey then says to Lacy: "You say faggot a lot. Is that on your mind?"

McMurtrey was removed from the SWAT team and put on desk duty for a year after a supervisor saw the video. McMurtrey wrote a letter accepting responsibility for his demeanor, according to a summary of the internal investigation (embedded below). He is now back on patrol.

Lacy has a lengthy criminal record including theft, assault and domestic violence, according to previous reporting. He is currently in the Spokane County jail facing assault charges.

Meidl called the interaction "the most atrocious demeanor I've seen in my career."