News

No verdict in police brutality trial of three street cops

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

A hung jury failed to return verdicts Monday against three south King County street crimes police officers who allegedly beat, kidnapped and threatened to kill a drug informant.

The jury deliberated for several days but couldn’t decide guilt on any of the charges but one against any of the officers, according to Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County prosecuting attorney.

County sheriff deputies James Keller, 31, and George Alvarez, 30, and Des Moines Police officer Barron Todd Baldwin, 36, all were charged Oct. 25 last year with a count each of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, and unlawful imprisonment, a felony.

The Superior Court jury found Keller not guilty of the assault charge, Donohoe said, but was hung on the unlawful imprisonment charge.

Donohoe said prosecutors will review the case and decide in about two weeks whether to ask for a re-trial.

He said late Monday he wasn’t sure where the split occurred among the jurors, adding the prosecuting attorney was still speaking with them.

Alvarez, Keller and Baldwin were assigned to an interagency drug task force that targets street crimes –– like drug dealing, auto theft and gang activity –– in south King County.

On Oct. 22, they met at a diner on Pacific Highway South with a drug informant who had been avoiding their calls. The detectives told the man, 23-year-old Michael Anthony Winchester, to get in the car, according to charging papers. They parked behind a building on Pacific Highway and allegedly began slapping and punching Winchester, demanding to know why he hadn’t called.

Keller then allegedly told the others they should take Winchester to the Green River, according to authorities. On the way, they talked about killing him and throwing him into the river.

They stopped walking distance from the river, and Baldwin and Alvarez took Winchester by the arms and began walking him toward it, commenting about killing him, according to charging papers.

As they reached the trail to the river, the officers asked Winchester again if he would call them. He said he would. They let him go, drove him to a location of his choosing and released him, authorities said.

The next day, another officer who was present but didn’t participate during the alleged beating called the Des Moines Police Department’s interim chief,, Kevin Tucker, to tell him what had happened, authorities reported. Tucker forwarded the information to the Sheriff Department, and both agencies launched an investigation into the assault.

The three officers were arrested Oct. 25. All posted $20,000 bail and were released on their own recognizance.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

allegedly beating, kidnapping and threatening to kill a drug informant.

The jury deliberated for several days, but couldn’t decide guilt on any of the charges but one against any of the officers, according to King County Prosecutor’s spokesman Dan Donohoe.

King County deputies James Keller, 31, and George Alvarez, 30, and Des Moines police officer Barron Todd Baldwin, 36, all were charged Oct. 25 with a count each of fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, and unlawful imprisonment, a felony.

The jury found Keller not guilty of the assault charge, Donohoe said, but they were hung on the unlawful imprisonment charge.

Donohoe said prosecutors will review the case and decide in about two weeks whether to ask for a re-trial.

He said late Monday he wasn’t sure where the split occurred among the jurors, adding the prosecuting attorney was still speaking with them.

Alvarez, Keller and Baldwin were assigned to an interagency drug task force that targets street crimes, like drug dealing, auto theft and gang activity, in South King County.

On Oct. 22, they met at a diner on Pacific Highway South with a drug informant who had been avoiding their calls. The detectives told the man, 23-year-old Michael Anthony Winchester, to get in the car, according to charging papers. They parked behind a building on Pacific Highway South and began slapping and punching Winchester, demanding to know why he hadn’t called.

Keller then allegedly told the others they should take Winchester to the Green River, according to charging papers. On the way, they talked about killing him and throwing him into the river.

They stopped walking distance from the river and Baldwin and Alvarez took Winchester by the arms and began walking him toward it, commenting about killing him, according to charging papers. As they reached the trail to the river, the officers asked Winchester again if he would call them. He said he would. They let him go, drove him to a location of his choosing and released him.

The next day, another officer who was present but didn’t participate during the beating called the Des Moines police department’s interim chief Kevin Tucker to tell him what had happened. Tucker forwarded the information to the sheriff’s office, and both agencies launched an investigation into the assault.

The three officers were arrested Oct. 25. All posted $20,000 bail and were released on their own recognizance.

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