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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Body camera footage shows initial interaction with woman who accused former Spokane police officer of rape

Aug. 22, 2022 Updated Thu., Aug. 25, 2022 at 12:21 p.m.

Former Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash, who is on trial for multiple counts of rape along with official misconduct and unlawful imprisonment, listens during his trial Wednesday at the Spokane County Courthouse.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
Former Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash, who is on trial for multiple counts of rape along with official misconduct and unlawful imprisonment, listens during his trial Wednesday at the Spokane County Courthouse. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane police Officer Nathan Nash knocked on a woman’s door in July 2019 after she reported her neighbor physically assaulted her. The woman was sobbing.

Days later, Nash returned to take photos of the woman’s injuries and raped her, she told police.

The body camera video of that initial interaction was shown in court Monday during Nash’s trial on multiple counts of rape, along with unlawful imprisonment. The charges stem from alleged attacks against two women in separate incidents in 2019.

In the second incident in October 2019, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Nash when a woman reported he had sexually assaulted her during a follow-up visit to an investigation into her report that her boyfriend physically assaulted her. Nash was arrested days later and was laid off by the police department in December 2019.

The woman from the July 2019 case came forward in 2021 when calling to check on the progress of the investigation into the assault she reported against her neighbor.

Spokane police Officer Daniel Morley testified Monday he and Nash responded to the report of the alleged July 2019 assault. Nash was the “primary” contact with the woman and asked her questions about the incident, Morley said. The footage was played without audio in court Monday morning.

At one point early in the video, Nash can be seen touching the victim’s head and hair, looking for wounds, Morley said. Examining a victim for wounds is common practice, Morley said, but most officers wear gloves as a sign of professionalism and for hygiene.

After talking to the woman, Nash and Morley went to the neighbor’s apartment, where Morley interviewed the alleged assailant, according to the body camera footage.

Without telling Morley, Nash left and returned to the woman’s apartment, Morley said.

While alone with the woman, Nash’s body camera captured him touching her chin and turning it, lifting up her shirt, and sliding his hand down her leg, while looking for injuries.

After a few minutes, Morley returned and the pair left.

Morley said he didn’t see any inappropriate behavior from Nash while he was in the room but he found it odd Nash did not wear gloves.

The woman told investigators Nash returned alone days later and raped her.

After Morley’s testimony Monday, prosecutors called witnesses to discuss the other alleged assault reported in October 2019. In that case, a woman told investigators Nash returned to her apartment alone after initially responding to a domestic violence call related to her boyfriend. While there, she showed Nash bruising on her hip, she said. Nash pulled down her pants and put his fingers inside her, the victim testified last week. The Spokesman-Review generally does not name victims of sexual abuse.

Mark Zenker, a forensic scientist with the Washington State Patrol, testified that he found DNA matching the October 2019 victim on swabs of Nash’s palm and his notebook, but did not find DNA matching the victim on Nash’s fingernail clippings. Nash’s DNA was not found on the woman’s sexual assault kit swabs either, Zenker said.

DNA expert Lorraine Heath testified it’s uncommon to find DNA from a digital penetration under someone’s nails or on their hands if there has been any delay in swabbing that person for DNA.

Nine hours passed from when the woman reported the assault took place to when Nash’s hand was swabbed. Over that amount of time, Heath said, most people would wash their hands and come in contact with many other things, causing DNA to be transferred or removed, making it difficult to detect.

Heath said it’s common for DNA left by digital penetration to be overwhelmed by the other DNA present in the vagina and be undetectable.

Testimony in Nash’s case is set to resume Tuesday. The trial is scheduled to continue into next week.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the charges Nathan Nash was on trial for.

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