Sheriff Knezovich alleges SPD officers destroyed evidence, leake - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Sheriff Knezovich alleges SPD officers destroyed evidence, leaked information in sex assault case against fellow officer

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In a bombshell interview with KHQ Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he is extremely upset with the several key people involved with an accusation of sexual assault against a Spokane Police Officer. In a bombshell interview with KHQ Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he is extremely upset with the several key people involved with an accusation of sexual assault against a Spokane Police Officer.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

UPDATE: According to the Spokane Police Department, a second Spokane Police Officer has been placed on leave during sexual assault investigation.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: In a bombshell interview with KHQ Wednesday, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich says he is extremely upset with the several key people involved with an accusation of sexual assault against a Spokane Police Officer. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the case because it involves Spokane Police Officers. Officers from the same department are not allowed to investigate each other.

The Sheriff says his investigators have been stonewalled from the beginning, he says the officers that were at the party where this alleged sexual assault happened are not cooperating, and that, according to his detectives, evidence has been removed or destroyed.

The Spokane County Sheriff's office is investigating an accusation that a Spokane Police Officer sexually assaulted one of his coworkers. Court documents say it happened early Sunday morning at a party thrown by a different Spokane Police Officer, at his home north of Spokane.

The victim admitted to having at least four drinks, and ultimately passed out in a guest bedroom. She says she woke up to a police officer sexually assaulting her. She quickly moved away, then began crying. Court documents say the officer, in a panicked voice, said "I gotta go, I gotta go home," and quickly left.

The victim then told several people about the incident, then told her superiors. Police sent out a news release Monday saying one of their officers was on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation into this accusation.

Details released in alleged sexual assault case against Spokane Police Officer

Sheriff Knezovich says he's had issues with this investigation since his office first got the case Sunday morning. He says he believes someone leaked to the Spokane Police officers involved in this incident that his County Sheriff's detectives were serving a search warrant. That allowed the Spokane Police Officers, according to the Sheriff, to clean or wash evidence before his detectives could collect it. We asked if the officers could have washed the material without meaning to destroy evidence. The Sheriff said they should have known better. He said they were cops and this is their job and they should have known better. Then he said, "Patrick, there's a victim involved. She should not have to worry about people that she trusted, people that she worked with, doing anything to damage the case. It's unconscionable."

He also says the city did not want to call this a "sexual assault" case.

"I have information," he says, "that members of City Hall, Theresa Sanders was mentioned, did not want sexual assault mentioned. It is a serious crime, and I think it was not a good move on their part."

Sheriff Knezovich is so concerned he's taking a step he's rarely ever taken: contacting the FBI, who has offered their assistance in this investigation.

The Sheriff did say top brass from Spokane Police told him they planned to cooperate fully with his investigation, and make sure his detectives got whatever they needed.

We asked the Sheriff if it turns out officers did obstruct the investigation into this alleged assault and he paused, then said, "full prosecution. That's what should happen."

At this time no charges or arrests have been made and KHQ will not identify the officer until that happens, if that happens. We checked on the status of the investigation and were told that evidence has been sent to a lab. We're told those results are at least a week out. 

Late Wednesday afternoon, KHQ's Patrick Erickson also spoke with Interim Spokane Police Chief Rick Dobrow who said he had a meeting with Sheriff Knezovich and expects additional disciplinary action to take place within his department in the coming days. Dobrow said he'll immediately open an internal investigation into several of the officers who may have played any role in hurting the sheriff's investigation and more officers could be placed on leave. As of Wednesday night, at least one other officer was placed on leave in connection to the investigation. 

When we took the Sheriff's concerns to Spokane Mayor David Condon, he released this statement:

“The facts about the release of information don’t support the allegation of mischaracterizing the investigation. It was very clear from the beginning that this is a sexual assault investigation and needed to be handled by the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The Spokane Police Division provided information consistent with how it would any other case. The Spokane Police Division is fully cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office investigation.”

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