Two Suspects Charged for Damaging/Removing Election Signs
Spokane Valley Investigative Unit (SVIU) Detectives charged two adult males for multiple misdemeanor violations for intentionally damaging/removing political signs on private property near 24th and Sullivan in Spokane Valley.
In late August, SVIU Detectives began investigating a report of damage to multiple Spokane Valley City Council candidates’ political signs, which were placed on private property. One of the victims provided images from a motion-activated camera of the suspects on two separate occasions committing the criminal acts.
All three of the candidates wished to have the incidents investigated and the suspects, if identified, charged.
While reviewing the images, Detectives observed one suspect later identified as 70-year-old Lawrence J. Wilson, tear the top sign (1 of 3) in half. Additional photos from the next day showed Lawrence Wilson and two additional males approach the signs. In this set of images, a different suspect, later identified as 23-year-old Tyler J. Wilson, dismantle a four-sign set of signs, including the rebar, and toss them in a vacant lot.
Investigators went to the area where the signs were placed and contacted Lawrence Wilson at a residence nearby. Detectives immediately recognized Lawrence Wilson from the pictures as one of the suspects damaging the signs. He stated he tore down one of the signs because it obstructed his view when he pulled out onto the roadway. He said he tore down all of the signs the next day because two new signs had been put up in place of the one he removed. When confronted with the images showing two additional suspects with him, he claimed not to know either of the males.
Detectives explained the evidence showed he didn’t cause the damage the second day and in fact, it showed Tyler Wilson tearing them down. Again, Lawrence Wilson said he caused the damage and removed the signs. He also stated again he had no idea who the other two males were. He was advised the images clearly showed his statements were false, and if he continued to provide false information, he could be charged with an additional crime. Lawrence Wilson said, “I don’t care, I’m 70-years-old. What are you going to do to me?” He again stated he didn’t know the two males.
On September 5, 2019, Detectives returned to Lawrence Wilson’s address. As they arrived, a car driven by a male immediately recognized as the previously unidentified male who caused damage on the second day, Tyler Wilson. Lawrence Wilson was seated in the passenger’s seat.
Tyler Wilson identified himself and explained he is Lawrence Wilson’s grandson. He admitted to tearing the signs down because they were bothering his grandfather. He stated Lawrence Wilson had been complaining about the signs obstructing his view for about a week, although Tyler admitted they did not block his own view of the roadway. He said the removal of the signs was not politically motivated in any way; he was merely trying to assist his grandfather.
The third male was identified and interviewed. He admitted he knew about the incident and witnessed it but did not participate in the destruction or removal of the signs. With Lawrence and Tyler’s statements corroborating this and no evidence to the contrary, he was not charged with a crime.
Lawrence Wilson was issued criminal misdemeanor citations for two counts of Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree, two counts of Removing/Defacing a Political Advertisement and one count of Making False or Misleading Statements to a Public Servant.
Tyler Wilson was issued criminal misdemeanor citations for one count of Malicious Mischief 3rd Degree and one count of Removing/Defacing a Political Advertisement.
The Spokane Valley Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone, the destruction, defacing, or unlawful removal of a political sign/advertisement is a criminal act. Anyone caught committing these acts, politically motivated or not, will be charged with the appropriate crime.
We also encourage anyone who witnesses this behavior to report it to Crime Check at 509-456-2233. Please try to provide a detailed description, to include license plates of suspected vehicles if possible, without placing yourself in danger.