Latah Co. Sheriff's Office Facebook page allegedly played a role in resident's suicide

PULLMAN, WA - Cyber bullying is a serious concern among parents across the nation, but one Pullman woman said a local law enforcement agency bullied her brother on Facebook, and she said it contributed to his decision to commit suicide.

Palouse Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains why she said messages from a Latah County Sheriff's Deputy played a part in her brother's decision to take his own life.

Pullman resident Alise Smith is currently coping with the death of her younger brother Andrew Cain, who took his own life on Sunday. She said it all started with controversy on Facebook.

"Eventually, it all just got too much to handle because other people were texting him and messaging him on Facebook and he just couldn't handle all of the people telling him awful of a person he was," said Smith.

Cain's picture was posted on the Latah County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, and the caption read that he wasn't only the wanted person of the week, but of the month. The caption also said, "Congratulations."

"I do not blame the Sheriff's Department for Andrew killing himself," said Smith. "He made that choice 100% on his own."

Smith said she understands why the Sheriff's Office posted her brother's photo, but she said the caption posted with it and private messages from a deputy took it too far.

"It all exploded into people sharing it and rumors starting about other things that Andrew had done, crimes that he has never committed," said Smith. "And people started harassing him."

Smith said she received a text message from Cain earlier that week in which he told her that he felt like putting a bullet in his brain.

"The text came along with a screen shot of a private Facebook conversation from Sergeant Doug Andersen to Andrew saying that if he turned himself in, he would give him a copy of the wanted poster, basically teasing him," said Smith.

Cain was wanted on charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Failure to Appear in Court in relation to previous burglary charges. Latah County Sheriff Wayne Rausch said that posting wanted posters on Facebook has led to many arrests, but he acknowledges that the post was inappropriate. In an official statement, Rausch said, "It has never been my policy to include editorializing in media releases pertaining to the location and apprehension of persons wanted by the court." Rausch also personally apologized to Smith.

"Wayne Rausch didn't post this," said Smith. "Wayne Rausch knows better than to post this, it is him employee. It is Sergeant Andersen who needs to apologize for his actions he needs to realize what he did, he needs to apologize to my family personally."

Alise Smith wants to make it clear that she isn't blaming the Latah County Sheriff's Office for her brother's death, but she believes the Facebook activity was belittling and she hopes it doesn't happen to anyone else.