MOUNT VERNON — Soon after learning a Mount Vernon police officer had been shot, Mayor Jill Boudreau received text messages and a phone call from the man now accused of doing the shooting.
To start the second full week of testimony in the trial of Ernesto Rivas, 47, Boudreau took the stand to talk about the texts and the phone call between the two the night officer Michael “Mick” McClaughry was shot in the head.
“I said, ‘Did you shoot my police officer?’” Boudreau testified. “He said he didn’t know and then he said he was sorry several times.”
McClaughry survived the incident, but is blind.
Boudreau said she first met Rivas in 2015 during her campaign for re-election. The two were introduced by Rivas’ aunt, who at that time was helping with Boudreau’s campaign.
On Dec. 15, 2016, after McClaughry had been shot in the head, Rivas texted Boudreau’s personal cell phone.
Boudreau told the Skagit Valley Herald in April 2017 that she and Rivas had texted each other since September 2016 about issues related to gangs.
She said Monday she assumed Rivas had gotten her number from his aunt.
According to records obtained by the Skagit Valley Herald in April 2017, the first text Rivas sent the night of the shooting read: “Come 2 my house,” and listed Rivas’ address.
“Tell me what is happening,” Boudreau responds to Rivas, according to the records.
“I’m going 2 die,” Rivas responded less than a minute later.
Later in the evening of the shooting Boudreau delivered screenshots of the messages to negotiators who were on the phone with Rivas.
When asked by defense lawyer Tammy Candler if Boudreau had been upset to have been dragged into the situation by Rivas, she said yes.
When asked by Chief Deputy Criminal Prosecutor Rosemary Kaholokula if she had also been upset by the fact that McClaughry — whom she considered a friend — had been shot, Boudreau paused and appeared to have to regain composure before saying yes.
Before the night of the shooting, the relationship between Boudreau and Rivas centered around gangs, she said.
When she first met Rivas, Boudreau said, he wanted to know what she was going to do to address gang issues, particularly in schools.
The impression she got from Rivas, she testified, was that he felt that children in gangs were not treated equally in the schools — namely that the young members of his gang were treated more harshly than those of a rival gang.
Never, she said, did she remember initiating contact with Rivas nor did she consider it unusual that he would have had her personal cell phone number, which she readily gives out, she said.
Also Monday, Mount Vernon police Detective Sgt. Mike Don testified that on the night of the shooting he and three other police officers had dragged McClaughry’s unconscious and bleeding body into the backseat of Don’s police vehicle before Don sped McClaughry to an ambulance waiting about a block away.
Jurors were shown photos of Don taken that night.
Three were closeups of each of his hands and a knee of his pants from the night McClaughry was shot. Each showed red stains.
When asked after each photo was shown by Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich what it was the jurors were looking at, Don repeated three words: “Officer McClaughry’s blood.”
It was several hours before Don was able to wash McClaughry’s blood off of his hands.
Burlington police officer Preston Payne had testimony similar to Don’s.
Payne, who had been with the department for almost two years before the shooting, said he had been called to the intersection of LaVenture Road and East Fir Street to help Mount Vernon police contain the scene while they were investigating an earlier shooting.
As Mount Vernon officers McClaughry and Ben Green approached Rivas’ door, with officer Liz Paul shortly behind them, Payne said he situated himself within sight of the front door and the small concrete patio outside it.
Shortly after hearing McClaughry and Green knock on the door asking to talk to someone inside the home, Payne testified he heard gunshots and turned in time to see McClaughry fall off the patio, with Green diving after him.
Payne pulled out his weapon and aimed it at the house, but instead ran across Rivas’ frosty front yard to help Paul drag McClaughry to safety.
“We started pulling whatever we could,” Payne said. “We could hear the bullets coming by us.”
Payne testified he remembers seeing Mount Vernon police Detective Wayne Jones standing in the street with a gun aimed at the house. Because of that cover, he said, he knew that would be a safe place to drag McClaughry.
As he testified about attempting to assess McClaughry’s injuries and learning that he had been shot in the head, Payne choked up.
McClaughry’s blood had soaked through Payne’s uniform and the clothes he had on underneath. As the officers slipped in the frost attempting to pull McClaughry to an ambulance, bullets were still sporadically flying and passersby stopped to ask if the officers needed help.
The officers yelled at them to leave, he said.
When Don pulled up, Payne testified he felt relief even as they struggled to push McClaughry into the car.
“I remember feeling so grateful that (Don) was there,” Payne said.
Law enforcement from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Bellingham Police Department and Western Washington University also testified Monday about their roles, including firing tear gas into Rivas’ home and later his arrest.