Former Police Lieutenant Who Testified Against Fellow Officer Shot
NINE MILE FALLS, Wash. (AP) _ A former police lieutenant who testified against a fellow officer in a police-shooting case in San Diego was shot at his home here, said authorities, who found a badge stuck to his shirt.
Doyle F. Wheeler, who moved here about 1 1/2 years ago, was wounded Tuesday afternoon at his home in the retirement community of Suncrest, about 20 miles northwest of Spokane.
Stevens County Sheriff Dick Andres said Wheeler, 36, was able to speak to investigators Tuesday night at a Spokane-area hospital, where he was being treated for a gunshot wound to his head that was not believed to be serious.
Andres said a note was found at the shooting scene, but declined to reveal its contents. A San Diego television station, KFMB, reported the note said, ″This is a payback.″
A San Diego Police Department spokesman said Wheeler told Spokane-area authorities that three men broke into his house, took him into the basement and beat him, burned him with cigarette butts and pinned a police badge on his shirt before shooting him behind his ear.
Stevens County Chief Criminal Deputy J.R. Mugaas refused to comment on reports that Wheeler was tortured.
Wheeler called 911 and said he had been shot, Andres said.
″We’re treating this as if it were an attempted murder,″ Andres said.
Andres said an all-points bulletin was issued for three men who apparently sped away from Wheeler’s home in his small foreign car.
Ross Kelley, who lives next door to Wheeler, said he saw a police badge on Wheeler’s shirt when he was taken by stretcher to a medical helicopter.
Andres declined to say whether the assault may have been connected with Wheeler’s former affiliation with the San Diego police.
San Diego police Cmdr. Keith Enerson, however, said there was no connection.
Wheeler once testified in San Diego at a trial of Sagon Penn, who alleged he shot two officers only after he was attacked because of his race. Penn, who is black, was quitted of murder and attempted murder, and lesser charges were later dropped.
Wheeler’s testimony supported the defense theory that the March 31, 1985, shooting erupted during a racially motivated struggle provoked by the white officers.
Police Agent Thomas Riggs died during the shooting, and police Agent Donovan Jacobs and civilian observer Sarah Pina-Ruiz were wounded.
Wheeler had testified that Jacobs had once slammed a black man’s head against a wall without provocation at police headquarters. The former lieutenant said he didn’t consider Jacobs to be a good police officer.
No San Diego police officers have been charged with any crimes in connection with the case.
The prosecution suggested that Wheeler’s psychological problems distorted his criticism of police. Wheeler had been given a stress-related disability leave from the police deparment in September 1977 and returned in April 1978, according to a San Diego police spokesman.
Wheeler was also among the first officers at the scene of a July 1984 mass shooting at a McDonald’s restaurant in San Ysidro, a suburb of San Diego, that left 21 people dead.
Wheeler, his wife and their two children moved to Washington state after Wheeler received a stress disability retirement from the San Diego Police Department, said Kelley.