Regarding the recent civil uprising in Coquille, City Manager Terence O’Connor advised the city council that ‘staff‘ had reviewed all audio recordings of various traffic stops and had concluded that every officer acted professionally. Staff have been identified as Chief Reaves, Sargeant Smith and O’Connor himself. Other non traffic related complaints continue unaddressed leaving those complainants in the same state of frustration as before. The seeming impossibility of having a complaint impartially addressed and acted upon in Coquille adds fuel to the ‘foxes in the hen house’ metaphor so often applied to City Hall.
Coquille PD officers may be exemplary, superb even ‘world class’ traffic cops but they have failed Leah Freeman and her mother Cory Courtright. After years of inaction and stony silence from Chief Reaves, Cory has marked the seventh anniversary of her daughter’s murder by taking her concerns and questions to the city council and to the media. Local newspapers and television stations have featured Leah’s story and Cory’s frustration with local law enforcement.
As a result of this publicity she has been contacted by the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children and her story will be featured in an upcoming newsletter. Cory has published the copies of the search warrants and other documents released to her in Leah’s case here. After reviewing these documents many questions immediately come to my mind as the mother of two young daughters.
1) How much combined homicide experience existed within the ranks of the Coquille PD when Leah went missing? Did Coquille PD reach out to other local experienced homicide investigators within the area and if so, how long did they wait before they did so?
2) Leah went missing June 28 and CPD did not appear to begin aggressively searching for Leah for eight days. Search warrants are dated July 13 and July 28, weeks after she went missing. Why did they wait so long to secure evidence?
3) A shirt matching the description of one worn by Leah when she disappeared was seen at a residence by the police and left because it was a ‘mens’ shirt. Later when the officer decided to pick it up afterall, it was gone. Why wasn’t all possible evidence secured immediately?
4) The FBI will reinvestigate the case if asked to by the Coos County District Attorney or the Coquille Police Department. Why won’t these two agencies make this request?
Cory has published another open letter to the Coquille City Council and Police Department in this week’s Sentinel. To date her questions have been cruelly ignored by city management. Coquille PD has failed Leah and Cory. They have failed me and my family and most recently appear to have failed those whose cars were vandalized.
The original officer in Leah’s case has moved on, the consequences of his actions or inaction borne entirely by Leah and her family and Cory’s complaints, questions and concerns go unanswered. The adverse relationship between Chief Reaves and many citizens of Coquille leaves many feeling like Cory, that they must take their issues to the media or the US Attorney. Coquille needs a citizen review board.