January 17, 2014 in Region

No criminal charges to be filed in David Warner assault case

From staff reports
 
Pullman Police Department photo

A Pullman Police officer checks on WSU instructor David Warner following an assault last month outside the Adams Mall in Pullman.
(Full-size photo)

No charges will be filed against four people arrested last year in connection with an attack that left a Washington State University instructor with severe brain injuries, authorities said today.

“We had insufficient evidence to prove a crime” had been committed, said Bill Druffel, Whitman County chief deputy prosecutor. Druffel briefed the victim, WSU instructor David Warner, and his parents earlier this month about the decision not to file charges in the case.

Warner, an instructor in WSU’s Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies, was with a friend outside the Adams Mall early on March 30 when he was knocked to the ground. Police said last year that Warner was trying to stop a fight between his friend and others when he was assaulted in a crowd near Stubblefields bar.

In May, Pullman Police recommended felony charges against three men they accused of assaulting Warner and a woman accused of making false statements to police. Police also recommended misdemeanor charges against Warner’s friend. Prosecutors also decided not to charge the friend.

Bill Gilbert, an attorney who represents Warner, said Warner and his family are disappointed in the decision, but that they understand that the burden of proof is high in a criminal case. Gilbert said he respects Druffel for not allowing public pressure to interfere with charging decisions.

“The prosecutor involved in this case is a very conscientious, very professional prosecutor,” Gilbert said. “He works very hard to make sure that when he makes the decision he makes the right decision. He doesn’t want to charge someone with something that he can’t prove at trial.”

Gilbert said the family is investigating details of the case to determine if it will file a lawsuit. He said defendants could include those who were arrested in the case and bars who may have over-served anyone who attacked Warner.

Warner is living with his parents in Pullman.

“It’s his hope and his family’s hope that he will be able to go back to work,” Gilbert said. “As with all brain injuries, it’s a long, slow process.”

Note: A news release from the Whitman County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that details the decision not to file charges is attached to this article.

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