Was police officer ambushed?

Author: Colleen O'Brien, Reporter / Weekend Anchor, colleeno@kxly.com
Published On: Aug 09 2012 11:22:13 AM PDT   Updated On: Aug 10 2012 12:01:58 PM PDT
Spokane Valley patrol car wrecked after ambush
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -

Was a Spokane Valley police officer's car crash a set up? That's what detectives are looking into after finding there were suspicious circumstances in the crash.

Just after midnight Friday, Officer Rustin Olson was one of several officers responding to an anonymous 911 call about a fight at South Pines Elementary School. The caller said up to 20 people were fighting.

Running code, as it's called, Olson was speeding to the school when he hit a piece of firewood in the middle of the road. The three-foot by one-foot piece of wood tangled under his car, causing it to roll twice, crash into a retaining wall and land on its top. Olson suffered a fractured vertebrae and is expected to recover.

The crash was so violent, the patrol car was totaled.

“A piece of concrete from that wall is embedded in the driver's [sic] side door so it kinda just tells you how much force there is and how violent the rollover is,” Thornburg said.

Debris in the roadway isn't uncommon, but also finding a large branch and a blue recycle bin with rocks inside is, according to Detective Dave Thornburg.

Thornburg explained that just before Olson ran over the piece of firewood, another officer had clipped it which should have sent it to the side of the road.

“We know that piece of wood had to be moved out there,” Thornburg explains.

Also, Thornburg says there was never any evidence of a fight at Pines Elementary. He thinks its possible that someone faked the 911 call to send the officers into a dangerous trap.

“It's bad enough putting debris out on the roadway, that's a crime doing that, it's even worse that if you're staging a call to purposely get law enforcement to respond fast to see what happens, to hit the debris, that's what makes this even worse if that's true,” Thornburg said.

Detectives have a few leads in the case, including a garage sale sign that was attached to the recycle bin. They might also be able to lift fingerprints from the plastic bin. Operators at 911 are also tracing the number used to call in the tip about the fight.

If you know anything about this accident or saw anything suspicious Friday morning, call Crime Check at 456-2233.