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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Spokane police officer under investigation for attempted sexual assault of sheriff’s deputy

A Spokane police officer has been placed on leave amid allegations that he attempted to sexually assault a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy in 2019.

Officer Andrew Richmond was placed on administrative leave in July after an anonymous letter was sent to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detailing what the writer described as the sexual assault of a female deputy, according to investigative documents obtained by The Spokesman-Review.

The deputy confirmed the contents of the letter to her supervisors and said it was Richmond who had assaulted her.

The sheriff’s office asked the Pullman Police Department to investigate.

Pullman police are now recommending Richmond be charged with unlawful imprisonment and attempted second-degree rape. Due to a conflict of interest, the Spokane County Prosecutor’s office has asked the Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office to handle the case, Prosecutor Larry Haskell said in an email.

Lincoln County Prosecutor Adam Walser said this week he was still reviewing the case. Richmond has been on administrative leave from the police department since the investigation began in July.

Richmond worked for the sheriff’s office until July 2019, when he sought employment at SPD. Richmond, who is Black, said he overheard former Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeffrey Thurman use a racial epithet in a phone conversation in December 2016 with another sheriff’s deputy. He reported the incident to the sheriff’s office and Thurman was later fired.

Richmond is suing the sheriff’s office in U.S. District Court after he says the sheriff’s office retaliated against him for coming forward. The case is set to go to trial in March .

Thurman is also suing the sheriff’s office for defamation, denying the use of the word Richmond reported. The case is set to go to trial in November.

The alleged assault happened on Aug. 18, 2019, Richmond’s last day with the sheriff’s office. The female deputy said she, Richmond and another deputy had become close friends during their time working together at the sheriff’s office.

The three decided to go out to drinks to celebrate Richmond’s last day, but at the last minute, the third deputy said she couldn’t attend the outing.

Richmond and the female deputy went out for drinks for a few hours before Richmond offered to drive her home, she told investigators. Once back at her home, Richmond asked for a tour since he hadn’t been at her home before, she said.

She gave him a tour then started setting up a card game in the living room. At about the same time, her boyfriend called to say goodnight. The deputy told her boyfriend that Richmond was there and that they planned to play card games. Richmond made motions, telling her not to tell her boyfriend he was there, which the deputy said confused her, documents said.

Richmond then said he needed to use the restroom, she told investigators. She directed him to use the bathroom on the main floor but then heard Richmond upstairs, where she said he went into her bedroom.

When she went upstairs to see what he was doing, she said Richmond picked up her duty belt and tried to put it on. She told him not to do that.

Richmond then took her handcuffs and handcuffed her to her computer, she said. Richmond laughed at the deputy’s perplexed look, she said. At one point, she picked up Richmond’s phone and texted his girlfriend, which made Richmond angry, she said.

Richmond then picked her up from the floor and threw her on the bed, she said. He handcuffed her hands together, she said. Richmond began telling the deputy she was a “fantasy” of his, she told investigators. Richmond tried to unbutton her pants while she was telling him to stop and to think of his pregnant girlfriend, she said.

“At that point, it started to click, like, ‘OK, this is not fun and games anymore,’ ” she told investigators.

The deputy said she was upset and torn between thinking that her friend wouldn’t hurt her but also realizing that Richmond was hurting her, she told investigators.

Richmond continued to try to unbutton the deputy’s pants and laid his body on top of hers so she couldn’t squirm, she told investigators.

The deputy then saw the handcuff key on the bed and was able to grab it and eventually get the handcuffs off, she said. She pushed Richmond off and ran downstairs.

When Richmond followed her downstairs, she told him to leave, she told investigators.

The next day, she told her boyfriend what had happened.

She also texted Richmond and asked him to explain himself.

Richmond apologized. The she asked Richmond, “You realize how many times I told you to stop, right?”

Richmond responded, “Wait, what? … where are you going with this? I would NEVER force myself on anyone,” according to investigative records.

The deputy said she wasn’t accusing him of anything but reiterated that she had asked him to stop “over and over,” and that Richmond kept pushing.

She also noted the pair had had drinks together before and he had been respectful.

When asked what he remembered about the night, Richmond said, “Considering that you’re insinuating that I forced myself on you, I’m not sure what you’re trying to do here. You know that’s far from who I am.”

The deputy said she needed some time to process. Then Richmond again said he didn’t like that she was insinuating he was “some sort of predator.”

She then said she wasn’t trying to work an angle or accuse Richmond of being a predator trying to rape her, but that the situation didn’t look good.

Richmond then said, “I’m obviously on the defense right now because the last thing I need is some sort of investigation for something.”

The pair texted similar sentiments over the next few days.

The deputy’s boyfriend, now her fiancé, confirmed to investigators that she had told him about the assault the day after it happened.

Richmond declined to speak with investigators through his attorney. His attorney did not return requests for comment from The Spokesman-Review.

As part of Richmond’s lawsuit against the sheriff’s office, numerous deputies were subpoenaed but not her, a fact that other deputies noticed, she told investigators.

One deputy, Cpl. Jeff Welton, asked why she wasn’t subpoenaed, to which the deputy said there was a personal issue between her and Richmond, but it wasn’t relevant to Thurman’s case. Welton asked if he could tell Thurman it didn’t pertain to his case. She agreed.

About a month later, Thurman called her. When Thurman asked her about Richmond, she told him what happened, she told investigators.

Shortly after her conversation with Thurman, her supervisors got an anonymous letter saying she had PTSD from an assault.

The deputy told her sergeant she believed that Thurman sent the letter so he could access text messages between her and Richmond through a public records request.

Thurman told investigators that he did talk to the deputy and encouraged her to report what happened.

He denied sending the anonymous letter but indicated he knew who did.

The Spokane Police Department said in a statement it placed Richmond on leave immediately after learning about the “serious allegations” and has had no involvement in any of the investigative proceedings.

Following a decision by the Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Officer, the police department will conduct an internal investigation.

Two Spokane police officers have been convicted of rape in the past five years.

Nathan Nash was convicted last month of raping two women while on duty.

In March 2018, a jury convicted Gordon Ennis of second-degree rape for assaulting a fellow officer at a party. He was sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

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