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Prosecutors won’t file charges against Spokane police officer suspected of domestic violence

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 14, 2017, 11:04 p.m.

Spokane police Officer John Scott. (KHQ / Courtesy photo)
Spokane police Officer John Scott. (KHQ / Courtesy photo)

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office has elected not to file charges against a Spokane police officer suspected of assaulting his wife.

Prosecuting attorney John Love said Tuesday probable cause existed to charge John Scott with three separate incidents of domestic violence, but he wasn’t convinced he could get a conviction if the case went to trial. Complicating matters, he said, is that the victim, Scott’s ex-wife who now lives in Arizona, didn’t want to fully cooperate.

“Looking at those charges, probable cause is an easy one to say we have enough evidence,” said Love, who decided on Oct. 25 not file charges. “But then we look at the evidence and see if we have enough to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, and that’s a different thing.”

Scott was arrested at his home early in the morning of July 11 on suspicion of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, a misdemeanor. Later that afternoon, Love requested the charges be dropped on account of a lack of evidence. The request was granted.

The attorney said at the time he had no idea Scott was a police officer, and only realized it after seeing the group of media there when he arrived at court.

Months later in early October, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office recommended prosecutors refile the July 11 charge, along with two additional charges stemming from prior domestic violence incidents involving the same woman. One was a fourth-degree assault incident on Aug. 16, 2016, and an unlawful imprisonment incident on April 3, 2017, that was previously not disclosed to sheriff’s investigators.

Scott remains on paid administrative leave following his arrest. An internal affairs investigation is still active, said police Chief Craig Meidl.

Details of the July 10 incident have been vague, though Love previously said it was a scuffle over a phone between Scott and his wife that could best be described as a “mutual altercation.”

But according to a sheriff’s office field case report, it was more than that. In interviews with Scott, his wife and their daughter, the three told detectives differing accounts of the same story, but all involved a scuffle between the couple before the woman was pushed down onto a cot.

Scott told deputies he came downstairs to his wife’s room to talk to her, but she wasn’t listening and was instead looking at her phone. Believing she was texting with her ex-husband, he grabbed the device and held it away from her. The woman jumped on his back in an attempt to get it back.

His wife, though, told deputies she didn’t want to talk because it was late, according to the report. She said Scott was upset, and at one point, swung his arm toward her as if he was going to backhand her. She told detectives she feared she was going to get hit.

The details of the two previous incidents have not yet been released by county officials.

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