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Tacoma City Council: No further discipline, investigation needed in Linnik case

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on April 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm with 63 Comments »
April 30, 2011 1:12 am

After a closed door meeting for more than an hour today, Tacoma City Council members stood with their city manager, telling reporters that misleading information from city police officials about the Zina Linnik investigation four years ago has damaged the city’s credibility.

“Whether it was done intentionally or not, public trust was violated,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said.

“We had a long conversation with the city manager and we made it clear to him that communications need to be better.”

But, speaking on behalf of the council at large, Strickland added the matter has been “thoroughly investigated and vetted,” saying that no further personnel or disciplinary action needs to be taken to restore the city’s relationship with its citizens.

“We repair (public trust) by moving forward,” Strickland said. “Looking back at what’s past isn’t going to change anything. It’s not going to bring Zina Linnik back to us.”

The council called today’s executive session with City Manager Eric Anderson, after The News Tribune revealed in news stories last week that Police Chief Don Ramsdell and department spokesman Mark Fulghum misled reporters about why it took the department nearly 12 hours to issue an Amber Alert after Linnik disappeared in 2007.

Court documents recently filed in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the city by the murdered girl’s family stated that Fulghum had fallen asleep early on July 5, 2007, after being requested to issue an Amber Alert in the case at 4 a.m. The alert ultimately wasn’t issued until about six hours later, at 10 a.m. on July 5. Linnik disappeared about 9:40 p.m. on July 4.

In response to reporters’ questions about the delay, Ramsdell and Fulghum said in 2007 the department postponed issuing the alert so detectives could gather more information to use in it, and to iron out discrepancies in descriptive information.

In the lawsuit, Linnik’s family contends that the delay might have contributed to Linnik’s death.

Ramsdell and Anderson met with News Tribune reporter Adam Lynn last week after he reported the new details about why the alert was delayed. The chief apologized for not telling the newspaper the true reason for the delay. Anderson defended Ramsdell and denied that the chief’s actions amounted to lying.

Both men also defended Fulghum, saying the police department opted against punishing him for what was considered a “system failure.” Fulghum, who had just finished a busy Fourth of July double-shift, was the only officer in the department authorized to issue an Amber Alert at the time – a policy that has since been changed, they said.

Several council members expressed frustrations that they only learned about the new details in the case by reading them in the press, prompting Tuesday’s closed-door meeting.

Afterward, while meeting with the press, council members flanked Strickland as she told reporters city police actions in no way played into Linnik’s death.

“We believe that’s not the case,” she said. “Police worked the case really hard and there was actually some really good police work.”

Strickland also stressed that Linnik’s convicted killer – not Tacoma police or the Amber Alert delay – is to blame for the girl’s death.

“I do want to be very, very clear about something,” she said. “There was one person responsible for the death of Zina Linnik. And that was Mr. (Terapon) Adhahn.”

Throughout her statement and in responses to questions, Strickland emphasized it was time to “move forward.” Asked if the mayor spoke for the entire council, no member spoke up to say otherwise.

“We’re united that public trust and transparency is one of the most important things in government,” Councilman Ryan Mello said later Tuesday. “We made that clear to the city manager.”

Anderson, who said he learned of the delayed Amber Alert in 2009, said today that he is “satisfied” that Ramsdell did not intentionally lie or hide details about the matter.

“I don’t believe there was a cover-up,” he said. “There wasn’t any reason to cover it up.”
He added that he will not seek to further investigate or discipline Ramsdell.

“I have satisfied myself that his error was unintentional,” Anderson said of Ramsdell. “The proper response is to move forward to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The chief, in turn, has decided no further investigation or discipline of Fulghum is needed either, Anderson said. He agrees with that decision.

“I don’t think it’s proper to discipline an officer who fell asleep after working 16 or 18 hours,” said Anderson, noting Fulghum was slumbering after his double-shift when he got the request to issue the alert.

Leave a comment Comments → 63
  1. tree_guy says:

    that’s it?

  2. Rowdy_Rob says:

    Sounds like the Tacoma City Council is trying to wash their hands off of this…

  3. tree_guy says:

    “Looking back at what’s past isn’t going to change anything. It’s not going to bring Zina Linnik back to us.” Mayor Strickland

    God help the next Zina Linnik.

  4. tree_guy says:

    “The chief apologized for not telling the newspaper the true reason for the delay.”

    The common vernacular for not telling the truth is “lying.”

  5. tree_guy says:

    “There was one person responsible for the death of Zina Linnik. And that was Mr. (Terapon) Adhahn.” Mayor Strickland

    That was never an issue. The issue is the appropriateness of lying about the police investigation.

  6. Isn’t that conveeeeenient??? Or so said a character on Saturday Night Live known as “The Church Lady”. Why Mark Fulgham isn’t responsible for falling asleep after pulling a double shift and making a buttl;oad of money from the taxpayers. The Chief isn’t responsible for lying to the press because, well, if he did THAT, then we would just write a check to the Linnick family instead of making them go through the process of lawyers and court and depositions and scandal. (I wonder how much sleep Mr. Linnick lost that night. You can bet that the City will be writting a check MUCH larger than was paid to Officer Fulgham, and he GOT a nap). And of course, the best way to head to recovery, is to move on. Does this Council THINK before they speak, or do they push a button and wait for the “Stupid Statement of the Day” to come out of a tickertape machine. My dear God, what a bunch of tripe.

  7. tree_guy says:

    “We made that (the need for public trust and transparency) clear to the city manager.” Ryan Mello

    And the city manager made it clear to the council who’s really running our city.

  8. Anderson needs to go. The other two should be suspended for 30 days without pay for the coverup.

  9. crusader says:

    Nothing to see here folks. Move along…….

    Sheeple.

  10. alwaysthinking says:

    Nice that the mayor believes the word of a pedophile rather than confirming that the tpd made a serious error in judgement. Very disappointed in this decision – how can they live with themselves? I would like to send well wishes to the family and hope they get BIG bucks from the pending lawsuit.

  11. Unbelievable. The cops willfully lie on a police report and lie about it for 4 years to all of us. And the mayor sees no problem. The standards so very low, there are none left!!

  12. aranciata says:

    This only confirms what I had already guessed was the case, i.e. there was a conspiracy to propagate a lie to the constituency that included the Council. Anderson was perhaps only the bag man, evidently the Council that was aware that confederation of deceit was there all along.

    Why else the bold faced attempts to conflate lying and covering it up with the tragedy that precipitated what we are discussing here today? They are two totally separate issues, their only connection is that one was the event that set the others in motion.

  13. tree_guy says:

    “No further discipline needed…in Linnik case” Strickland

    What discipline?

  14. The News Tribune needs to keep pressing on this issue. Local government is clearly trying to wash their hands of this. There needs to be more investigation into this, and it is now an issue for Tacoma parents and Tacoma voters.

  15. We need a citizens oversight panel, one with teeth.

  16. controller1 says:

    Tacoma

  17. Up until now I thought well, the guy fell asleep, he was not on duty. Sad mistake.
    Now I am not so sure. Perhaps he needed to be tested for drugs. Because if you are not on drugs, how can you live with a lie concocted by your chief of police and not clear up the matter for four years? Gotta be on drugs to act like that. Gutless.

  18. The city believes the killer’s version of the facts. So does the chain newpaper.

    The city needs to open the windows and let some fresh air in.

    The only way to do this is to support change on the city council We have to defeat Anderson’s puppets. This includes Bow and Mello this year, and Strickland and Campbell next year. They give the democrats and the liberals a very bad name.

  19. sunlover says:

    The arrogance of state, city and government workers. This is as bad as it gets. Liars are protected in the City of Tacoma and one liar gets a 35,000 pay raise. Next will be cheating and stashing slush fund money. Gambling at local casinos. Can’t wait for the response.

    This is as rotten as it gets.

  20. aranciata says:

    “This is as rotten as it gets. ”

    Unfortunately you are all wet. This is only the tip of the iceberg, if this was as rotten as it gets there would be accountability commensurate with the offense i.e. lying by the Police Chief and City Manager. No it is much more rotten than “this,” there is a reason that the Council is protecting these two and the motive has nothing to do with altruism.

    It should be transparently obvious by now that the Council was in on the fix, if not the whole Council…at least enough of them.

  21. Whatever1214 says:

    Somewhere Ray Corpuz is smiling.

  22. I hope and pray that all people of good can try to see this from the victim’s eyes. And her of that of the family.

    The city is trying to spin their story in order to influence the jury pool.

    When the city calls the killer to the stand to attack the vicitm’s family, all hell will break loose. This will most certainly happen before Strickland’s and Campbell’s re-election campaigns. Their opponents will show that the city is so morally and ethically currupt that the council unanimously supports the word of criminals over the interests of the victims.

    I hope and pray that Mr. & Mrs. Judson speak out on this injustice being done on victims by two TPD chiefs in a row, And two mayors in a row defend those chiefs. And the other big shot councilmen like Kevin Phelps and Ryan Mello.

  23. princessnancy says:

    How did this woman get elected Mayor? She did not get my vote the first time and will definitely not get it again. It makes no sense to believe the word of a killer. Obviously the City Manager is running the city. I sent Eric Anderson an email when this happened asking why the Amber Alert wasn’t issued sooner, and he sent me some b.s. response. I’ve been looking for the email but must have deleted it.

    The City of Tacoma is as corrupt as it was in the 70’s. I’m a native and this turn of events makes me SICK. These 3 guys should be fired…and I wish they could take the Mayor and City Council with them!

  24. I’m disappointed by this. I expect more from our law enforcement officials, city staff and our elected leaders. It would have been decent to admit that an officer had a tough day with an extra long shift and that an error was committed in not making the phone call. And that the department was not forthright about the truth behind the reason for the delay.

    It seems most people are more willing to forgive an honest apology than excuses and smoothing over of something that is very disturbing. The disturbing part isn’t that a hard-working officer was exhausted. The disturbing part is the false explanation given to the media, public and the council four years ago.

    Frankly I feel way more outrage after this non-action than even when I first read about the events earlier this week.

  25. To Whatever: Ray Corpuz is smiling?

    David Brame is inviting Ramsdell, Anderson, Strickland and Mello to join him in eternal hell.

  26. controller1 says:

    Tacoma City Mayor and Council Members,

    I am not surprised at all by the results of the meeing tonight. The Mayor and City Council totally agreed with the decietful decisions, lies and coverups that our Police Chief and City Manager committed against us citizens!

    Those of us who have been following this blog since it broke were given a heads up yesterday. We were told that the City Manager will end this discussion once and for all! We now all know who really runs the City of Tacoma.

    I really regret the comment made by the Mayor, saying going backwards is not going to bring Zina back to us. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of comments that citizens offered on this blog, I did not see one of them asking for the city to bring back Zina. However, what I did see was a very large call for some kind of justice for the lies and coverup by the Police Chief, and recently for the coverup the City Manager has given to the Chief! I guess that the Mayor and City Council do not understand citizens comments, or simply can not comprehend the English language. How much louder and clearer did we need to be, in order to express our request for Justice?

    I would like to remind the Council that the citizens of Tacoma have minds that Remember events like this, and that future elections can and do have consequences! Also, Mrs. Mayor we remember cases of ethics violations.

    I feel one thing for sure. Not taking the appropriate action now, will come back to haunt Tacoma again and again.

  27. worthless sacks of protoplasm

  28. This is about as sad a story as any story could get, even for Tacoma. Wouldn’t have thought this city could be known for anything worse than its reputation has already suffered… but a botched Amber Alert for an abducted little girl, then a City Council who pardons the City Manager who pardoned the Chief of Police who pardoned the TPD spokesperson for all lying to the public because of their inbred cover-ups and assumed untouchable arrogance is almost too big to wrap my head around… and I think I have no choice but to just leave this awful place.

  29. Twill: You need to stay to fight. We clean house from time to time.

    You have to vote and be active in order to defeat the machine.

    Washam is not Pierce County.

    The Ramsdell-Anderson-Strickland-Mello machine is not Tacoma.

  30. Right now the only justice will be this TACOMIC haunting google search engine results for eternity… http://comics.feedtacoma.com/tacomic/tacomic-liars-calling-eric-anderson-police-chief-ramsdell/

  31. You have to check RR’s — Nine Inch’s link.

    The young, new, and creative people are now seeing through Strickland and Mello, their former heros.

  32. Elizabeth Burris says:

    This is sickening..payback is gonna be a can of whoop ass for all of you City Council members.
    I will be actively campaigning for some new faces, and not beholden to the city manager.

  33. At least Mello put up a fight eh? A pre-game show fight?

  34. VOTE FOR ANDERS IBSEN! He is not going to drink Eric Anderson’s BullSh!T milkshake!

    “Eric Anderson has betrayed the public trust for far too long. Between his lack of judgement on accepting a $70,000 pay raise during an economic recession, to unilaterally letting the Luzon building collapse, to covering up an act of deception in the police force, Anderson has shown that he has no regard for the truth or common good.

    Terminating him – without any “golden parachute” severance package – doesn’t go far enough. We need to ensure that bureaucrats can never again amass that kind of uncontested, uncontrollable power.

    I believe our recent history with unaccountable city managers like Anderson and Corpuz should prove to anyone that the council-manager system is just as political as the administration of any elected mayor. The difference is, the people can fire a bad mayor. Nine part-time politicians with staggered terms, who are fed selective information from city staff who work for the city manager, are in no position to hold him accountable. That’s what makes it a bad system.

    A mayor-council system is not a silver bullet. But it is a start.”

    http://i.feedtacoma.com/Erik/city-council-candidate-anders-ibsen/

  35. “In today’s meeting with the press, council members flanked Strickland as she told reporters city police actions in no way played into Linnik’s death.”

    Had the amber alert been issued in a timely manner it’s possible little Zina could have been saved. How does the Mayor know when the killing took place? Was she there? Does the autopsy provide an exact time of death?

  36. To RR NIN:

    Well you know that the current machine is going to try to defeat him, just for being honest. He’s also grassroots.

    For thert support, Ramsell-Anderson-Strickland-Mello are more comfortable with the establishment democrat (Smitherman), whose husband already has a city pension.

  37. Elizabeth Burris says:

    More motivation for me to support Anders!

  38. The other thing to know is that the Smithermans have a triple-dip public pension situation today (city-state-teachers). They are trying for a quadruple-dip, that is, a second city pension. Only Councilman Jake Fey has gotten to this level before, and we defeated at his last election.

  39. “We repair (public trust) by moving forward,” Strickland said.

    Judging from the tenor of the comments so far, that seems a bit naive.

    When you find a piece of cheese in your refrigerator that has some nasty old mold growing on one side you don’t fix the situation by returning it to the refrigerator. You cut off the mold. It’s beginning to smell like Strickland is the moldy part.

  40. To Ms. Burris:

    I used to know a Tacoma School District employee in the early 1970’s that used to say “can of whoop ass”. Is that you or one of your people?

  41. Strickland knows just how to build trust between the community and the police. First give the police free range, then citizen’s will shut up or else….

  42. Police accountability is such a necessity, particularly now. Seattle Police Department has demonstrated the problems associated with what appears to be systemic accountability breaches – – and the public’s confidence in them has suffered, not to mention they are disgraced on many levels. This is not the type of system or pattern that we want to have in Tacoma. We want to make sure that law enforcement is supported in their work, but also held accountable for their actions. “Public trust” must not be taken lightly.

  43. Alison7613 says:

    Unbelievable. It’s a complete repeat of the Brame scandal. Everyone is excused, the people in power support one another. Shame on Strickland, shame on our city manager.

    Mello appears to be the only one willing to make a statement in favor of the constituents.

    We ought to recall this entire city council immediately. Right now they are aptly called “The council of none.”

  44. I guess our Council place little value on telling the truth and taking responsibility.

  45. 1. The council joins in the pattern of conduct. Support for the killer’s story.

    2. This will be known as a new lowpoint of Tacoma’s ugly history.

    3. Remove this council. They are not us. They do not represent us.

    4. We should call for a federal Justice Department investigation.

  46. Lies, coverup, denial, closed door meetings. Yup business as usual in Tacoma.

  47. On Q13 the mayor called her “Lina Zinnick. That shows you how concerned she is about how this young girl died.

  48. What passes as strong leadership is losing a major employer, throwing a hissy fit over throwing money at a pagoda and now the mayor chiding the citizens over who killed Zina, a child whose name she can’t be bothered to know.

  49. tree_guy says:

    “It’s not going to bring Zina Linnik back to us” Stickland

    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2011/04/26/tacoma-city-council-no-further-discipline-investigation-needed-in-linnik-case/#ixzz1Kj2ZU7mQ

    The mayor’s strategy is obviously to only endorse courses of action which might bring Zina Linnik back to us.

  50. harleyrider1 says:

    Everyone needs to take a step back and think about this outcome.

    Not one person, but collectively all these elected people support no discipline even after all the public noise – not even asking for an outside investigation.

    And what is the commonality here? YOU voted for these people. If you want to make a difference, then don’t just vote your party member as you always do. Do some digging next time. Read their history of stance on issues as actions always speak louder than words.

    This is YOUR representative in action.

  51. Justin Miller says:

    The personnel and the leadership in the police department should be held accountable for misconduct, regardless of what time it was determined that this little girl died. The ball was dropped, and then lies were told. This entire city council, the mayor, and the city manager have disappointed me, and they’ll be sorely lacking in support from my end next time around.

    You don’t settle for a lack of integrity when it relates to people who are legally permitted to patrol your neighborhoods with loaded weapons and pull them on you at their discretion.

    The chief has to go, and so does that pile of fail who racked out in lieu of doing his duty.

  52. Ask the city to see the police report. Ask about the police oversight committe. Go to meetings, wear a Zina T-shirt. Keep writing and keep showing up. Keep digging and asking for documents. They have to give them to you.

  53. dster420 says:

    Well, it looks as though we have all entered a new “strickland/ramsdell era” in direct progression of the janovich era… Sure would be nice to get some HONEST people to be our Community Leaders, instead of inheriting a bunch of crooks… and liars.. and well, you all know…

  54. dster420 says:

    T-Town- that’s all good, but do you really want to feel the repercussions? ramsdell just might sic all his patrol officers after us, and then when he gets caught, will just have anderson and strickland cover up for him…

  55. dster420 says:

    All this just makes me wonder what ramsdell HAS on strickland, anderson, etc. I mean, come on, isn’t that how things are run? Quick- somebody call a stortinni…. Maybe mark french is available to consult again…

  56. Jennifer says:

    I am not surprised one bit. The Tacoma Police think they are above us, especially if you don’t live in an upper class neighborhood or have any connections.

    This investigation shows that the officer and chief lied and they should be punished no matter what. If city governments would start punishing cops it would be a start to mending the loss of trust alot of people in the community feel. I have absolutely no trust in our police department, not even in the so called “good ones”. They are a gang and not above lying to protect their “family”, even at the cost of destroying our lives.

  57. The cops do not live in our neighborhood. Great point. I bet they get paid travelling to and fro Tukwila and Fed Way

  58. forget it, its HILLTOP for CHVIST Sakes! MOVING FORWARD… not dwelling on official “LIES” the Tacomic next week tackles F O O D CARTS! :)

  59. auwing1978 says:

    Unbelievable. I have totally lost respect for Ms. Mayor and she will not be getting my vote next election. Dudes in charge lied to the public they served. Bigtime lie. If they didn’t have the stones to resign, Ms. Mayor should have fired them. IMO.

  60. commoncents says:

    Curious as to what people really want here? Do you honestly think there was a cover up here? That a mistake was made by anyone? If so, by whom? Where in the process was it? Is the issue only that Ramsdell didn’t throw one of his employees under the bus for what is clearly a failure of the process and not of the individual. Or is the issue that the alert was issued at 10:00 am the next day? When should it have been issued? Fulghum was notified at 4:00 am that next morning…already 6 hours after she was taken. The murderer told the FBI during interrogation that she was already dead when he got her home. What’s the motivation to lie? Do you really think he lied back then as a way of protecting law enforcement? For what reason? He had already led them to her body to escape the death penalty…there’s no more reason to do anything but go through the motions of a trial and trudge off to jail.

  61. When considering their own liability people seem to lose their humanity (sell their souls). Not one person in the liable agencies has said out loud what the public is thinking about what is so obvious. Citizens don’t see one person representing their voice. What “public trust” can be restored? I have no idea what the Mayor means. It’s very sad for Tacoma and disheartening.

  62. “there’s no more reason to do anything” commoncents.
    You might have no issue with the police lying and falsifying police reports. Rumsdell and Fulghum colluded and concocted a lie as to why the amber alert was not issued as Fulghum was trained to do. I have a huge issue with the police lying. Don’t know why. Just rubs me the wrong way, can’t help it.
    Police shall not operate with impunity like a mob.

  63. Commoncents, yes there was a cover-up… Ramsdell admitted he now regretts his omission of information. Are you saying that as long as it might not have contributed to a death (if you believe the current version) then it’s okay for police to lie?

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