Newly released investigation reports offer specific details on how former police officer Gordon Ennis violated the terms of his release on a rape charge by attempting to contact a key witness via third parties.
A fellow police officer and a police dispatcher both told investigators that they have occasionally had social contacts with Ennis since he was accused of raping a fellow officer at a party hosted by Officer Doug Strosahl. Both said they made deliberate efforts not to discuss the case with Ennis.
Ennis’ release conditions state that he is to have no contact with Strosahl or Sgt. John Gately, who was tried on a charge of obstruction after investigators said they believed he had tipped off Ennis about a warrant seeking DNA evidence. A mistrial was declared and Gately was not retried, but he was suspended for a month following an internal investigation.
The conditions also state that Ennis is to have “no contact or discussion with any member of local law enforcement regarding the above matter.”
The third-party contacts were reported by Strosahl’s attorney, Joe Sullivan.
The police officer contacted by Ennis said he received phone calls and texts from Ennis on May 25 in which Ennis asked him to contact Strosahl and ask Strosahl to call Ennis’ attorney, Rob Cossey. The officer did so.
The officer told investigators that he has had infrequent contact with Ennis because he doesn’t want Ennis to be cut off from his friends and co-workers. He said a department email had circulated after Ennis’ arrest asking officers not to take sides or sever ties with Ennis. “We were never told we couldn’t talk to him,” the officer said, according to police reports.
The officer provided investigators with copies of the text messages between himself and Ennis.
The second person Ennis called works as a police dispatcher. The dispatcher said he received a phone call from Ennis on June 5 asking him to contact Strosahl to ask him to call Cossey. Instead he contacted Strosahl’s wife, who is a friend. She is also listed as a witness in the case.
The dispatcher said he didn’t think anything of Ennis’ request because officers routinely ask him to make calls on their behalf. He said he only realized it might be improper when Strosahl called him and said anyone wanting to talk to him should contact his attorney.
The dispatcher said his thought was, “I’m out of this, it’s not my monkey, it’s not my circus, I don’t want to be part of it,” according to police reports. He said he did not call Ennis back after that.
Cossey declined to comment when contacted by phone Thursday.
Prosecutors in the case requested that Ennis be jailed for the violations. Spokane County Superior Court Judge James Triplet ruled that Ennis did violate the terms of his release but did not grant the prosecutor’s request. Triplet did clarify that Ennis is to have no contact of any kind with local law enforcement.
Ennis’ trail was set for June 9, but a mistrial was declared during jury selection. The case is now scheduled for trial in August.
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