The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Spokane Police Department officer at his home early Tuesday morning on suspicion of domestic violence.
Officer John Scott was arrested on one count of fourth-degree domestic violence assault. During his first appearance in court Tuesday afternoon, prosecuting attorney John Love requested that the charges be dropped. The request was granted.
Scott was placed on administrative leave, according to a statement by Spokane police spokesman John O’Brien.
It is standard procedure to place an employee on administrative leave while an arrest is being investigated. Since the criminal charges were dismissed, the department’s internal investigation will begin immediately, said Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl. Though Scott’s conduct may not have been criminal, it is still possible he violated internal department policy, he said.
Scott will remain on paid administrative leave for the rest of the week, and then will likely be placed in an administrative role off the street while the internal investigation progresses, Meidl said.
“It’s something we will figure out,” he said. “Depending on how the internal investigation goes, in a week or two we will figure it out.”
The Sheriff’s Office arrested Scott after interviewing witnesses and determining he was the “primary aggressor,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory. Medics were not needed.
Domestic violence is a mandatory arrest charge in Washington. Love said that while there was probable cause for an arrest, in his judgment there wasn’t enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Scott had committed a crime.
“Officers show up and somebody’s got to be arrested,” Love said. “It just didn’t have enough to merit us proceeding with charges. Just because someone gets arrested doesn’t mean they’ve committed a crime.”
Love said there was a scuffle over a phone between Scott and another person that could best be described as a “mutual altercation.”
“It was a minor incident,” he said.
Love said that when he reviewed the case and decided to drop the charges, he did not know that Scott was a police officer. He only learned that when he arrived to court and saw the media there, Love said.
The charges were dismissed without prejudice, which means that the charge can be refiled if additional information comes forward.
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