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Tuesday, June 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Colville police officer charged with assault for second time in five months

UPDATED: Fri., March 22, 2019, 9:15 a.m.

The Stevens County Courthouse is seen Jan. 11, 2019, in Colville. A Colville police officer is charged with assaulting his girlfriend and nearly running her over while drunkenly backing his car out of a driveway on March 9, 2019. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
The Stevens County Courthouse is seen Jan. 11, 2019, in Colville. A Colville police officer is charged with assaulting his girlfriend and nearly running her over while drunkenly backing his car out of a driveway on March 9, 2019. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A Colville police officer is charged with assaulting his girlfriend and nearly running her over while drunkenly backing his car out of a driveway on March 9.

Mayor Louis Janke said Friday that Officer Michael S. Welch had resigned after meetings with union representatives. His resignation took effect Wednesday.

It was the second time Welch was arrested in less than five months. In November, he was charged with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, following a drunken altercation at a Colville bar.

According to charging documents in the most recent case, Welch’s girlfriend messaged another Colville officer, Anthony Gorst, on March 10 to discuss a fight she’d had with Welch the previous night. She wanted the discussion to be confidential because she feared Welch would get in trouble, the records state.

But Gorst determined an investigation was needed and alerted the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office.

The girlfriend agreed to an interview, telling sheriff’s detectives Welch had come home with a bottle of Fireball whiskey and drunk nearly all of it, along with some beer. She said she pleaded with Welch to talk to her, but he began to leave the house. An argument ensued, and at some point she slapped him, she said.

The girlfriend said she followed Welch as he left the house and got in his car, a 2010 Dodge Challenger. He then “began to back out of the parking area in quick fashion,” and she jumped on the trunk to avoid being run over, according to a report by Detective Michael Gilmore.

Welch continued to back up with her on the trunk, she told detectives. At the end of the driveway, he stopped and told her to get off. At some point, she said, he physically pulled her off the vehicle, but she jumped back on, banging on the window to get him to stop.

On the road, Welch stopped the car again, got out and grabbed her by the throat with one hand, she alleged. Angry, she told detectives she scratched the trunk of the car with a cigarette lighter as Welch continued driving toward an intersection.

She said Welch later threw her to the ground near their driveway, as if preparing to arrest her. Detective Travis Frizzell noted bruises along her jawline and small scrapes on her chin, as well as bruises on her hand and knee. She said she had trouble swallowing.

Welch was arrested and booked into the Stevens County Jail. According to Gilmore’s report, Welch provided a written statement saying his girlfriend had punched him in the face. He said he didn’t assault her but tried to get her off his vehicle so he could leave. As of Thursday, no charges had been filed against her.

Prosecutors charged Welch with reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor, and second-degree assault, a felony.

That’s in addition to his pending assault charge from the Nov. 1 altercation at Burdick’s Nightclub in Colville, which was captured on surveillance video. Court records say he grabbed a man’s arm and spun him around “in a cuffing type hold” before pushing the man’s head into a wall.

Mayor Janke previously said Welch was not placed on leave or desk duty after the bar altercation, citing a lack of administrative policy for incidents involving off-duty officers.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Friday, March 22, 2019, to note Welch’s resignation from the police department.

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