A Colville police officer is facing an assault charge after investigators were called to the scene of a drunken altercation at a downtown bar earlier this month.
Michael S. Welch was charged with fourth-degree assault following the incident Nov. 1 at Burdick’s Night Club, 151 W. First Ave. Welch identified himself as a police officer during the altercation just before midnight and threatened to arrest another bar patron for disorderly conduct after the man approached a woman Welch was with at the time, according to court documents.
Video from inside the bar showed that the man approached the woman, tapped her on the shoulder and then exchanged words with the couple, according to a summary of the footage prepared by Stevens County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Coon. The man then returned with his cellphone, later telling authorities he was doing so to show Welch he and the woman had been exchanging texts and pictures. Welch then got up, grabbed the man’s arm and spun him around “in a cuffing type hold before he appears to grab the back of the man’s head and push it towards a wall,” according to Coon’s report.
Several witnesses told police they believed Welch had acted inappropriately. The woman Welch was with said she was being harassed by the alleged victim. Officers noted in their reports all the people involved appeared intoxicated.
The Colville Police Department confirmed Welch is an officer with the agency. The city declined to comment on Welch’s employment status Thursday afternoon.
“I hold law enforcement officers to a high standard of conduct, and I believe that the citizens of Stevens County and Colville have a right to the same,” said Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who’s overseeing the case. “It’s important to realize that a person is innocent until proven guilty.”
Fourth-degree assault is a gross misdemeanor that carries a potential sentence of 364 days in jail, a $5,000 fine or both. Welch is scheduled to appear in court to face the charge Nov. 27. It was unclear Thursday if he’d hired an attorney.
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