Two officers suspended after an alleged assault of WSU student

Both officers placed on leave, State Patrol will investigate case

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Two officers suspended after an alleged assault of WSU student

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

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Both Pullman and WSU police departments placed one of their sergeants on administrative leave after a WSU student claimed an officer sexually assaulted her.

Pullman Police Cmdr. Chris Tennant and WSU Assistant Chief of Police Steve Hansen both confirmed their departments had placed a sergeant on administrative leave due to pending investigations.

The officers will still receive pay during the criminal investigations. Tennant said this was because the investigation was a criminal one, not looking into potential departmental policy violations, and standard practice is to put the officer on paid leave under these circumstances, much like an officer-involved shooting.

Neither Tennant nor Hansen could comment as to the investigation or its contents. Hansen said WSU PD received word of the complaint April 6 and immediately put the officer in question on leave.

Tennant said once PPD received information on the report, they followed suit and placed the sergeant implicated in the incident on leave as well.

Both Hansen and Tennant confirmed that the Washington State Patrol will conduct the criminal investigation instead of either agency involved to avoid a conflict of interest.

“We certainly, definitely want the best investigation possible, and if we did it in house, that just doesn’t look good,” Tennant said. “You wouldn’t have the public’s trust that the investigation was conducted in a non-biased manner.”

The officers will remain on leave until the investigation concludes.

Hansen said he wants the public to allow the investigation to run its course before making any judgements about the officers or the departments.

“Just don’t jump to conclusions until everything’s out there and the investigation’s completed is all I would ask,” Hansen said.

Hansen added that this marks the first investigation into an officer of this nature in his time at WSU PD.

Tennant said investigations into Pullman PD officers had happened before, but did not specify the nature of the past investigations.

Editor’s note: The headline has been updated.