Some Hamilton residents may have noticed their neighbors driving a little more cautiously and paying extra-close attention to passing police cruisers Tuesday night.
That could be because some of those neighbors were at the June 19 Hamilton City Council meeting where 17 residents queued up to express their fear of the local police department.
“I believe they are in a siege mentality, ruling the streets with a club and preying on the hapless, weak and vulnerable,” said Roy Pilkey, a Hamilton resident and retired Seattle fire fighter. “I’ve never been more afraid in my life.”
Most of those who spoke out urged the council and the mayor to open an official investigation into what they say is a corrupt department. The outcry stems from a June 11 incident in which Dennis McIntyre was brutally assaulted in a bathroom at the Corner Sports Bar and Casino on the city’s south side. McIntyre, a disabled Vietnam veteran and well-known resident of the city, says he was attacked, unprovoked, with a bar glass or beer bottle, mangling the left side of face. With his face still swollen, the gashes an ugly shade of purple, McIntyre distributed hospital photos of the deep cuts, which required 57 stitches to repair. According to McIntyre, an officer told his wife the following day that the perpetrators weren’t arrested because they weren’t deemed a threat to the public.
“I would like you to inform officer Murphy that I am part of the public. And every Vietnam vet I’ve come across resents that comment. We are part of the public,” McIntyre said at the hearing.
The two men who attacked McIntyre were not arrested. The primary assailant is a card dealer at the bar, many residents said.
Police Chief Ryan Oster said after the hearing that those who spoke out against his department “don’t have all the facts.”
“We did investigate and we’ve sent it over to the city attorney,” Oster said. Oster refused to name the perpetrators of the “disorderly conduct” and “assault” that occurred at the Corner Sports Bar that night.
The incident occurred just days before McIntyre’s wife, Carlotta Grandstaff, was sworn in as a newly elected member of the Ravalli County Commission. No report of the assault appeared in the local daily newspaper. A day after the city council meeting, there was no report of the public outcry, either.