Deputy drew baton before gun in fatal shooting

A Spokane County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a Valley businessman last month, tried using both verbal commands and a baton to diffuse the situation before drawing his own pistol and firing a single, fatal shot.

Law enforcement sources and police reports also indicate that the victim, 74-year-old Scott Creach, had a history of taking the law into his own hands.

Deputy Brian Hirzel has told investigators that he had been sitting in his patrol car outside Creach’s nursery for about two minutes when he saw a shirtless man walking across the parking lot of the Plant Farm with a gun in his hand.

The deputy says when Creach spotted the officer’s unmarked Crown Victoria he changed his course and began closing the approximately 30 feet of parking lot separating the pair.

While he was still seated in the car, Hirzel says he began shouting at Creach to drop his .45 caliber pistol, but Creach continued to advance on the deputy.

The deputy says Creach acknowledged the deputy’s commands to disarm himself but never put down the gun.

Hirzel says Creach got within two feet of his car door before the deputy exited the vehicle. Once outside the car Hirzel continued with his verbal commands to ?drop the gun? and then struck Creach with his baton in the hopes of forcing Creach to the ground. That’s when Creach allegedly tried to point his pistol at the deputy and Hirzel shot Creach in the chest.

At some point during the altercation Hirzel used his radio to call ?code six?, a signal indicating he needed help immediately. Ten seconds after that transmission, Hirzel radioed that shots had been fired and that he needed medics.

A Spokane police department investigation into Hirzel’s use of deadly force has uncovered a previous incident when Creach had armed himself with a gun and challenged someone who had been on his property.

In 2008, Creach spotted a suspect who had stolen a dozen eggs and a plant from Creach’s 4th Avenue business. Creach saw the man riding away on his bike and so Creach followed him in his truck. According to a police report, Creach stopped the rider and told the thief if he didn’t get in Creach’s truck and return to the Plant Farm that Creach would ?blow his head off?.

The suspect complied with Creach’s commands and was arrested by Spokane Valley police on trespassing and theft charges. Officers did not cite Creach in the case.

Creach’s son has stated that his father often carried both a gun and flashlight when making late night rounds on their seven acres of greenhouses. Creach did more than just look for prowlers. His trips through the property also turned up malfunctioning heaters, leaking irrigation lines and even disoriented seniors seeking warmth in the Plant Farm’s greenhouses.

Alan Creach says while his father carried a gun, his routine practice was to not have a live round loaded in the pistol’s chamber.

Investigators who inspected Creach’s gun after last month’s shooting say Creach had not chambered a bullet into his pistol this time either, but there was no way deputy Hirzel would have known that the chamber was empty.

Spokane police investigating the incident will meet on Tuesday to decide if they can release more information about the case, including what Creach said to the deputy during their confrontation.