Shannon Sullivan mounting effort to recall Prosecutor Steve Tucker

Shannon Sullivan, the woman who led a grassroots effort to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West, is launching a new campaign to recall Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker.

During an interview Thursday morning, Sullivan said she has a weight on her heart to keep public officials accountable, that the recall of Tucker is neither a mud-slinging campaign against the prosecutor nor is it an attack on Tucker personally, but is rather about the facts of his tenure as prosecutor and his performance as the county’s top legal officer.

Sullivan claims, in a four-page statement of charges, that Tucker has committed acts of malfeasance, misfeasance and violations of his oath of office as prosecutor. She asserts that Tucker had a duty to investigate and prosecute a number of crimes committed in Spokane County but on numerous occasions failed to do so.

She alleges that Ron Wright, a former police officer, claimed to have learned through an “undisclosed source” that at a political rally Tucker “said he would not prosecute police officers.” That statement was supported by another claim by Wright that, during a conversation with Spokane city councilman Bob Apple, Apple remembered that Tucker had made similar comments at a labor rally several years earlier.

At that labor rally, Tucker, according to Apple, stated “he would not prosecute public employees.”

In 2006, Tucker said he would not file any charges against Daniel Ross, a former Spokane firefighter who admitted having sex and taking explicit pictures of a 16-year-old girl who he had met online while inside a Spokane fire station. Tucker never filed charges against Ross and subsequently a claim filed by the teen against the city was dismissed. A case in federal court was tossed out because Tucker never filed any charges against Ross.

“This case was a blatant miscarriage of justice, which was manipulated by the prosecutor in collusion with other high-level city officials to protect the city and the city employed perpetrator,” Sullivan alleges.

A few weeks after the Ross incident on March 20, Otto Zehm died in the wake of a confrontation with Spokane police officers at a North Division Zip Trip convenience store. At the time, both city and police officials denied any wrongdoing on the part of Spokane police officers, claiming that Zehm had lunged at officers which precipitated the aggressiveness of their response toward him. Tucker never prosecuted anyone in the case.

In the Zehm case, Sullivan alleges that Zehm’s death was a “well-planned and blatant cover-up by public officials of a police-involved homicide.” She alleges that Tucker was well aware of what she calls the “criminal circumstances” of the cover-up by Assistant City Attorney Rocky Treppidi and City Attorney Howard Delaney, along with members of the police department’s command staff and yet Tucker took no action to prosecute Thompson.

Three years after Zehm’s death, the US Attorney’s Office filed charges against Spokane Police Officer Karl Thompson on grounds of use of excessive force and violation of civil rights in the Zehm case. Thompson went to trial in Yakima earlier this year, was found guilty on both counts, and is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2012.

Sullivan said Thursday morning that she will be handing her charges for recall over to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton Friday. Dalton says the charges will be submitted to the Attorney General so he can write the synopsis within 15 days, then the Supreme Court will decide whether or not it will be put on the ballot within 15 days as well.

Given there is no appeal from Tucker, Sullivan has 180 days to gather more than 42,000 signatures. The recall election would be between 45-60 days after that.

Tucker is reportedly out of the area, won’t be back until next Tuesday and was unavailable for comment on Sullivan’s recall initiative.

Sullivan last led a single-woman effort to recall Spokane Mayor Jim West in 2005. Sullivan waged her battle to get West recalled in the wake of reports by The Spokesman-Review that, while mayor he alleged he used his position to further the careers of young men he met online.

A former state lawmaker, West voted against a number of gay-friendly bills while serving in Olympia during his nearly three decades in public office.

From challenges in superior court to an appearance before the state’s high court, Sullivan continued to fight for the recall. Her efforts resulted in the December 2005 recall vote where Spokane voters overwhelming supported a measure to recall Mayor Jim West.

65-percent of voters who participated in the recall supported the recall, leading to his ouster. He was the first mayor in Spokane history to be recalled before his term expired.

West died in July 2006 from complications from cancer surgery seven months after he was forced out of office.

RELATED DOCUMENT: Sullivan Charges Against Prosecutor Steve Tucker

KXLY4’s Ian Cull contributed to this report