September 17, 2008

What about that investigation of Troopergate state trooper?

Curious lack of curiosity about this in media coverage if you ask me.

Think about it -- if the Alaskan police internal probe of alleged wrongdoing by state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law, had been a complete whitewash, would not the Palins have been justifiably irritated?

After all, the allegations against Wooten were serious enough -- and numerous enough -- to warrant serious scrutiny. Wooten had been accused of threatening to kill Sarah Palin's father, tasering his 10-year-old stepson, illegally killing a female moose and driving beer while driving a cruiser.

Yet just about all we learn from the media coverage, at least that I've seen, is that Wooten was "briefly" suspended after the police investigation.

As a former reporter who's done his share of crime stories, many questions come to mind about that investigation. For example --
  • Was Wooten questioned in person, over the phone, via e-mail? How long did the interview with him last? Was there more than one? Did Wooten invoke the Fifth Amendment? If so, how many times in response to how many questions?
  • Did Wooten deny the allegations?
  • Is it true that Wooten tasered his 10-year-old stepson and, if so, for what reason?
  • Is Wooten still authorized to use a taser? How about on minors?
  • Did any of the investigating officers ever serve in the same police barracks as Wooten? Attend the same police academy class? Linked by marriage, church, military unit, civic group, softball team, etc.?
  • If Wooten was found innocent of threatening to kill Sarah Palin's father, why was he reportedly suspended for several days?
  • Media reports have also stated that Wooten has been married four times and that all four marriages ended in divorce. If this is true, did any of his wives file for divorce on the basis of cruel and unusual punishment?
  • Did the investigating officers also look at allegations against Wooten that have not been reported? If so, what were they?
  • Have any state troopers investigated by Alaska police ever lost their jobs? If so, how many? How does this compare with other states and the nation as a whole?
  • What percentage of Alaskan state troopers are women? Native American? How many are in positions of authority? Are any involved in state police internal investigations?
These are just the tip of the iceberg of questions that should be asked. And probing questions have this wonderful habit of leading to more of same.

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