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Governor to sign bill depriving widow of Tacoma cop-turned-killer’s pension

Post by Kim Bradford on March 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
March 30, 2012 9:15 am

Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign legislation that would effectively negate a court’s ruling allowing a widow to collect part of the pension due her husband’s killer, according to the Tri-City Herald.

Harvey Anthis, a retired Columbia Basin College instructor, was killed in September 2005, when retired Tacoma police officer Walter W. Copland shot him after the two men had been drinking together. Anthis’ widow won a wrongful death suit against Copland and sought to garnish his police pension to pay the judgment. The state Supreme Court ruled she could.

Soon after the court ruling, lawmakers added an amendment to a bill to prohibit the garnishment. The bill, House 1552, is among the 100-plus bills scheduled for signing today. It’s turn comes at 6 p.m.

Here’s the report from the Tri-City Herald’s Paula Horton:

A bill that will protect pensions from garnishments – including the pension of a retired Tacoma police officer convicted of killing a Pasco man – is expected to be signed into law by the governor today.

Kevin Santillie said he was “very disappointed” when he was informed that Gov. Chris Gregoire won’t be vetoing the amendment that prevents his family from collecting part of Walter Copland’s pension.

“There are no words to describe how disgusted I am,” he said. “It’s just wrong. I haven’t met anybody yet that thinks this is a good idea.”

Instead of vetoing a portion of the bill, Gregoire sent a letter today to the Select Committee on Pension Policy, asking it to review whether exemptions to the pension garnishment law should be included to allow victims of serious crimes to collect on civil judgment awards.

That request didn’t satisfy Santillie, who told the Herald that Gregoire didn’t do her “due diligence” and is “once again basically dodging the bullet by not doing anything.”

Santillie’s father-in-law, Harvey “Al” Anthis, was shot and killed in 2005 by Copland, a retired captain who is serving a 12 1/2 year prison sentence after being convicted of first-degree manslaughter.

Anthis’ wife, Bonnie, won a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Copland and just last month the Supreme Court ruled she was entitled to garnishing his pension to collect the almost $1 million judgment.

An amendment was added to House Bill 1552 within days of the Supreme Court ruling to clarify the law and protect all pensions from garnishment.

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