By Garth Stapley
The Modesto Bee
MODESTO, Calif. — The surviving deputy sheriff in a deadly 2012 ambush in Modesto that killed his partner and a locksmith has left the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.
Mike Glinskas, 52, suffered a left hip injury while taking cover and returning fire. He and Sheriff Adam Christianson did not respond to requests for comment, but Glinskas' departure appears linked to the injury, judging from a farewell note he sent to co-workers.
His email blast, dated Feb. 28, suggests Glinskas was "not able" to say goodbye "last June when I was summarily removed from duty due to the hip surgery I had after the event of April 12, 2012." Glinskas writes, "I find that the time has come for me to yield and allow myself to seek new challenges."
Deputy Bob Paris, 53, and locksmith Glendon Engert, 35, were felled by assault rifle bullets fired from inside a Chrysler Drive fourplex during a foreclosure eviction. The shootings sparked a lengthy standoff with special weapons and tactics squads, ending in an inferno and gunman Jim Ferrario's suicide.
The Sheriff's Department honored Glinskas for bravery in a ceremony four months later, saying that despite his injury, Glinskas' shots pinned Ferrario inside the fourplex until other authorities arrived, perhaps saving others from tragedy. Glinskas also radioed critical information.
However, two investigations found fault with the deputies for failing to take proper precautions, given a wealth of specific warning signs about the homeowner's mental instability and military-grade weapons, and faulting Sheriff's Department officials for failing to address Paris' cavalier attitude. Glinskas had joined the civil process unit only three weeks before the slayings.
The investigations were cited in a civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court in Fresno by the locksmith's widow and parents. A November trial date has been requested by the Engerts, while defendantsthe county, Christianson, Paris' estate, Glinskas and some department managershave requested that it start in May 2015.
The defendants also served notice that they intend to ask a judge to seal from public view "various documents ... addressing issues concerning confidentiality and disclosure," according to a court briefing. The paper does not reveal the Engerts' stance on transparency.
In a brief interview at his commendation ceremony, Glinskas said the injury had kept him off duty and that he hoped to return to work by the end of 2012.
The department's handling of injured workers was cited as a campaign issue when deputy Tom Letras and Lt. Tori Hughes announced they would run against their boss in the upcoming June election, each saying the department had suffered black eyes from employees' lawsuits.
A case brought by deputy Dennis Wallace exposed the department's "limp, lame and lazy" list of injured workers, prompting Christianson to issue a public apology and county leaders to conduct an investigation. The county won the case, and Wallace returned to work, while two other former deputies are pursuing similar lawsuits, saying they were forced out after suffering on-the-job injuries.
Those lawsuits and others brought by employees have cost taxpayers $5 million during Christianson's tenure, with an average payout of $624,000.
Hughes dropped out of the race in early January. Letras, who has served civil papers for the department since the ambush, declined an interview request Thursday "out of respect" for Glinskas.
"What he went through is every cop's nightmare," Letras said. "I certainly would not want my comment to be construed as taking advantage for political gain."
Copyright 2014 The Modesto Bee
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