Special Reports

Fulghum violated policy by not issuing Amber Alert

An internal investigation has found that Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum violated department policy because he didn’t respond when called to issue an Amber Alert for Zina Linnik in the early hours of July 5, 2007.

A sergeant called Fulghum to get an alert for the abducted 12-year-old girl, but the spokesman, who had taken an over-the-counter sleep aid, fell back to sleep before doing so.

The alert – which informs the public about abducted children and provides details that might help law enforcement find them – was issued later that morning.

A written reprimand was placed in Fulghum’s personnel file after the internal affairs investigation this summer.

Fulghum, who remains the department spokesman, declined to comment about the investigation Tuesday.

Linnik, 12, was kidnapped near her Hilltop home the night of July 4, 2007 and later killed. Convicted sex offender Terapon Adhahn confessed to and was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing the girl. He is serving a life sentence.

The department’s handling of the Amber Alert was part of the focus of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the girl’s family against the City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the State of Washington.

Fulghum’s sleeping came to light earlier this year in records filed as part the lawsuit, which has been dismissed.

Fulghum said in a November deposition that he fell back to sleep after receiving the 4 a.m. July 5 phone call from the sergeant. Fulghum was on call at the time of the call, which came six hours after Linnik’s abduction. The Amber Alert was issued at 10 a.m.

In late April, then-City Manager Eric Anderson ordered Police Chief Ramsdell to start an internal affairs investigation into Fulghum’s conduct. He had not been disciplined for his handling of the Amber Alert.

The investigation found Fulghum had performed unsatisfactorily and violated the department’s standby policy, which expects officers to respond when called.

Anderson also reprimanded Ramsdell for withholding information from the city manager about the Linnik investigation.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268