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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ex-Spokane Police Guild president John Gately won’t be retried

Spokane Police Sgt. John Gately was arraigned in Superior Court on  Dec. 21, 2015, on rendering criminal assistance. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell will not retry the former Spokane Police Guild president on a misdemeanor charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

A trial for John Gately, a sergeant with the police department, ended with a hung jury Tuesday. Eight jurors were in favor of acquittal.

In a news release Wednesday, Haskell said his office seldom retries misdemeanors other than driving under the influence.

“The jury has spoken and I respect their decision. I ask that each of you do the same. As I had promised while running for office, we brought a close case to a jury of community members for their decision,” Haskell said in the release.

Gately’s attorney, David Allen, said he was pleased with the decision.

“I was hoping this would be the case, and I think it’s the right decision,” he said. “The state did their best. They put forth their best case and the jury spoke. Time to move on.”

The police department has begun an internal investigation into Gately’s actions to see whether he violated any department policies or procedures, Assistant Chief Craig Meidl said.

Gately will return to administrative duty following the prosecutor’s decision, Meidl said. He will work in the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit, which administers technology like cellphones, computers and body cameras for officers. Gately will not be out on patrol or supervising anyone, Meidl said.

Prosecutors charged Gately with obstruction last December after cellphone records showed he made two calls to a fellow officer, Gordon Ennis, after a female officer accused Ennis of raping her at a party.

Prosecutors alleged Gately tipped off Ennis about a warrant the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office was seeking to collect fingernail clippings, as well as the fact Ennis was under investigation.

At trial, Gately testified he called Ennis in his capacity as Guild president – first, to make sure he wouldn’t talk to any potential witnesses in the case, and second, to tell Ennis that he was going to be placed on administrative leave and have his name sent out to the media in a news release.

Gately originally was charged with two counts of rendering criminal assistance, a felony, but Superior Court Judge John Cooney dropped those charges April 1. Gately had been on unpaid leave since the charges were filed, but was placed on paid leave after the felony charges were dropped. He also became eligible for back pay for the time spent on unpaid leave.