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Sheriff’s detective on leave

Toliver charged with two assaults after alleged barn party brawl

A Spokane County sheriff’s detective faces felony charges of domestic violence and second-degree assault after allegedly using a flashlight to hit his girlfriend and another man at a drunken party Sunday near Odessa.

Detective Dale T. Toliver, 46, had been drinking around a campfire at a barn party when he saw his girlfriend get into a pickup truck with another man, according to court documents filed in Lincoln County. Toliver allegedly opened the driver’s side door and hit his girlfriend with the 13-inch, heavy-duty flashlight.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office contacted Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich on Monday about the pending criminal investigation, but he didn’t place Toliver on administrative leave until Tuesday when paperwork was completed, Knezovich said.

The other man at the party, identified as Joseph “Mike” Melder in court records, got out of the truck to try to defuse the situation, but the fight escalated when Toliver hit him in the face with the flashlight, documents say. Their struggle continued until Melder hit Toliver with a stick and Toliver fell to the ground.

Melder called 911 at 11 p.m. and said Toliver was face down on the ground and needed medical attention. No weapons had been used, he told dispatchers. Partygoers flagged down deputies along Iverson Corner Road and directed them to the barnyard area, court records say.

Toliver’s girlfriend told deputies that he had never hit her before.

Toliver was in a local hospital for several days being treated for “significant injuries” suffered during the fight, Knezovich said. However, the sheriff said he had not spoken to Toliver and would not speak to him until the investigation is over.

“We’re law enforcement professionals – we’re not supposed to be arrested. We’re supposed to be upholding the law,” Knezovich said. “It doesn’t sit well with anyone in the agency.”

Toliver has been employed with the Sheriff’s Office since 1997. He’s a detective with the Criminal Intelligence Unit, which investigates possible terrorist activities, Knezovich said.

The detective arranged with his attorney, Chris Bugbee, to turn himself in to Lincoln County authorities on Friday.

Although Lincoln County is investigating the criminal matter, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal investigation.

Knezovich said the investigation will be quick because Lincoln County has already completed its criminal investigation.

Toliver shared in a meritorious service award in 2010 for helping the Spokane Valley Precinct Property Crimes Unit pioneer the department’s push into “intelligence-led policing.”