SPOKANE, Wash. -- The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office settled a lawsuit with the family of Scott Creach on Friday for $2 million. Creach was shot and killed by Deputy Brian Herzel in August 2010.
United States Federal Judge Rosanna Peterson dismissed Spokane County and the Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich from the federal lawsuit filed by the Creach family on Friday. Under the terms of the settlement, Spokane County will pay $2 million to the Creach family.
"I think it was irresponsible for the insurance company to offer such a large settlement, against the advice of Spokane County and our attorneys, prior to Judge Peterson's ruling,” said Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “Doing so only opens Spokane County and the Sheriff's Office up to more unfounded lawsuits. It is important to note that Judge Peterson dismissed Spokane County and myself from this lawsuit and found that the Plaintiffs' claims against me and my Office were unfounded."
An attorney for the Crach family released the following statement:
“We are pleased with this settlement. No amount of money will bring Mr. Creach back, but this settlement will help raise awareness and hopefully encourage positive change in the way Spokane County trains its deputies so that something like this does not happen again.”
Authorities said the Creach family had claimed that the Sheriff's Office was negligent for providing "ambush training."
"Based on the evidence introduced, no reasonable jury could find that Spokane County or Sheriff Knezovich made a deliberate choice to disregard the rights of its citizens by providing the ambush training," said Judge Peterson following her ruling on Friday.
The Sheriff said the Creach family failed to prove the Sheriff's Office was flawed and that there was negligence.
"I'm glad the judge realized our office was not at fault in this tragic death. I look forward to the case being resolved," said Sheriff Knezovich.
Creach was shot and killed by Hirzel on August 25, 2010. At the time Creach and his wife were sleeping in their home when Hirzel reportedly drove on to a lot next to their home to work on a report in an unmarked vehicle.
Creach went outside to investigate what he reportedly thought to be a prowler when Hirzel shot him. No criminal charges were filed against Hirzel.
The Creach family’s lawsuit questioned the Sheriff's Office use of unmarked cars and parking on private property.
"Plaintiffs have shown that Spokane County had such policies or customs, but have not produced any evidence to establish that these policies or customs were the cause of Mr. Creach's death. Plaintiffs have thus failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact under this theory of liability," said Judge Peterson.
Creach’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Spokane County, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, and Deputy Brian Herzel back in November 2011.
Deputy Hirzel is the only defendant left in the case. He was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal investigation.