He’s a sheriff… without a gun.  Not because of due process… but rather in spite of it.

Monica Hatcher filed for divorce on September 18, 2019 from her husband Benton County Sheriff Jerry Hatcher.  Monica Hatcher has stated that the “marriage is irretrievably broken.” 

She claims that the divorce comes after an extramarital affair the Sheriff was having, and a fight that ultimately led to accusations of him strangling her.

Monica filed for a temporary order of protection from her husband on Friday October 4th.  Court documents indicate she makes claims that she is the victim of domestic violence, and that she became aware in 2017 of an extramarital affair between her husband and a woman, Lisa Rector Thomas who was in charge of Hatchers social media for his campaign during that time frame.

The court documents go on to further explain of an incident that took place in December of 2017 where Monica stated she confronted her husband with phone call and text message logs between the woman and her husband. 

It is written in the court document for the petition of the protective order that:

“This resulted in Jerry physically assaulting me by putting both hands around my throat, backing me up multiple feet and forcing me backwards over our bedroom dresser, while continuing to choke me.”

The paperwork goes on to further show that Monica told her husband not to ouch her ever again and “that he could have broken her neck.” Monica reported that her husband replied to her:

“If I wanted to hurt you, you’d be dead right now!”

As reported by Bellingham Herald “the petition includes nine pictures that Monica Hatcher states are her injuries from that alleged assault.”

Monica also went on to write, that:

“His emotional abuse has been an ongoing issue and has caused me years of intimidation. Jerry has always made me feel that he was above the law. Until recently, I have been convinced that he was untouchable by law and the only person that could arrest him is the coroner.” 

She also went on to state that her husband has forced her to make false statements, noting an incident on October 3rd where she claims he made her send false information to a prosecutor. In her petition she wrote her husband “stood over me while I cried.”  She also went on to state:

“I feel Jerry’s behavior is continuing to escalate and I am unsure of what his actions will be to stop this investigation.”

At the time Monica filed her divorce paperwork in September of 2019, she did not originally request a protective order.

In the protective order request Monica has asked that her husband be required to surrender all guns, dangerous weapons and concealed pistol licenses.

The temporary protective order was granted and Sheriff Benton was ordered to adhere to the condition of turning over all weapons, as well as moving out of the home that he currently shares with his wife.  He is also ordered to stay at least 1,000 feet away from his wife, when she is at home, or at work court documents show. Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell was the judge that signed the temporary restraining order on Friday October 4th.

When asked about the allegations against the Benton County Sheriff, the Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller explain to news outlets on Monday that:

“The Washington State Patrol is investigating the allegation and said the potential criminal case has been turned over to a special out-of-area prosecutor.”

Sheriff Hatcher was back to work on Monday October 7th where he did respond to reporter requests. Hatcher addressed questions stating, that he:

“Lives by the rule of law and followed the judge’s order by turning over all [his] guns to Kennewick police earlier Monday morning.”

When asked about the allegations made by his estranged wife regarding the strangulation and domestic violence Hatcher commented, that there “is a downside to a divorce and that may mean allegations that are not true. Divorces sometimes are very ugly and it’s extremely painful for people to go through, and I understand as an elected official that mine is going to be public.”

The Sheriff has made it clear that he has not intention of stepping down, or allowing this to become a hindrance on the job he does for his community. Hatcher stated he will not let his estranged wife’s “inflammatory and damaging allegations” effect his work.

Hatcher also explained to reporters that:

“I’m not going to go somewhere because I’ve been falsely accused of something.  I’ve lived my whole life for this community.”

He also made it clear that something going on in his personal life, had no bearing on his ability to do his job. Hatcher explained that this “has no bearing on what goes on inside the sheriff’s office. We deliver a great public safety service, and we’re going to continue to do so.”

Hatcher also stressed to reporters that not all the information has been made public and that he will have more to share once he gathers all the details himself.  He stated to reporters:

“I emphatically deny [the allegations] and look forward to the rest of the information coming back out.  I need to work through the process. Once I compile all the information, I will be ready to release a statement, and I will make sure that the electorate understands it.”

As reported by Bellingham Herald News:

“Monica Hatcher’s request for a permanent order and Jerry Hatcher’s ability to carry guns are likely to be addressed at a court hearing Oct. 15.”

It is also noted in the same news report that, there is no indication that the Sheriff must step down amid the allegations that he is facing, nor is there any indication that he must step down if he is unable to carry a firearm on duty.

Bellingham Herald News goes on to explain that “commissioned peace officers can be ‘discharged for disqualifying misconduct’ under a state law.”  Also police officers or sheriff’s deputies can face termination for the following:

“A conviction or conduct that would constitute a crime: in their duties or while acting as an officer; involving dishonesty or false statement; drug possession; or a crime that disqualifies a Washington citizen from the legal right to have a gun under state or federal law.”

However, the Sheriff is an elected position, and it appears that he can only be removed from the position by being voted out, or a recall effort, or if he resigns from the position.  

He has been the Sheriff since 2017 when he took over the position from the former Sheriff Steve Keane who resigned from his position with a single year left of his term.  Hatcher ran unopposed in 2018 for the next four-year term.

The investigation into the allegations against the Sheriff are ongoing. The woman in question who has been accused of the extramarital with the Sheriff Lisa Rector Thomas, is currently running for Richland City Council for the November election.  She did not return requests from reporters for comments on the allegations.

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Speaking of decisions being made on nothing more than accusations…

In a widely unprecedented move, the District Attorney’s office in the Bronx is releasing secret records concerning information on police officers that they apparently don’t trust.

And now members of the NYPD are finding themselves thrown in the public spotlight without a chance to defend themselves.

The rare move came about after New York radio station WNYC requested that the records be made public in light of the Freedom of Information Act.

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The Bronx D.A.’s office has just released the names of officers they don’t trust. (Facebook)

 

According to a report from the Gothamist, the ‘evidence’ against the officers comes in the form of articles from the media, as well as findings from judges who found the officers’ testimony to be untruthful.

The Bronx D.A. turned over 11 pages of documents to WNYC. The documents have a ton of redactions due to privacy restrictions of the Freedom of Information Act, but nevertheless, employees within the radio station were able to pin down the identity of some of the officers in question. 

One of the officers named in the database, who we won’t identify here because we believe in due process, had his credibility called into question over the matter of a search that turned up a gun. 

A search of a vehicle’s car rendered the seizure of an unlicensed revolver. But the defense said that the officer’s body cam video didn’t exactly match his statements, saying the car couldn’t have smelled like marijuana because none was found and that the search was illegal.

“I believe that the officers lied under oath on the stand when they said that they smelled marijuana and that that is what occasioned the search of the car,” a judge said.

So they threw out the gun charge.

 

Now, that officer is being considered ‘untrustworthy’ in a court of law. He argues that the judge was hell-bent on killing the gun charge, and found any way she could to do so.

With these documents now going public, this officer will now be seen as a non-credible witness across the city… all based on an opinion. 

The list of so-called ‘bad apples’ released by the Bronx D.A.’s office includes 39 other officers. 21 of those names were redacted due to the court sealing case files.

The privacy of the officers is now also under fire, with legal representatives calling for the entire list to be made public without redactions.

“Without names, our systems of checks and balances fails and yet again police evade accountability,” said Cynthia Conti-Cook, a staff attorney with Legal Aid. 

Legal Aid is New York’s largest domain of public defenders.

Earlier this year, Manhattan D.A. Andrew Stengel said that all of the information should be released, regardless of the impact it would have on current investigations and trials.

“Stengel called for the Bronx D.A. to release all files it has on officers with questionable credibility, even if such a release could throw scores of ongoing prosecutions and past convictions into question,” said the Gothamist.

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Darcel Clark is the head of the Bronx D.A.’s office. Now she’s releasing public information about police officers that ‘can’t be trusted.’ (Facebook)

 

Conti-Cook is pushing for more of these kinds of records to be pushed into the public limelight.

“The release of these records is another important step towards transparency,” she said. “But it is not the last step. We must continue to demand more public access to internal police misconduct information to allow the public to hold police and the administrations that protect them accountable.”

And of course, a legal director within the ACLU sided with the public smearing of the involved officers, who are not exactly being given due process, but instead are being subjected to the media’s portrayal and people’s opinions. 

“This revelation suggests there may be large numbers of police officers that prosecutors know are not reliable,” said Christopher Dunn. “This is exactly the type of information the public must know about. If they don’t, it just calls our entire system into doubt.”

Can we really trust these findings? After all, if you want to know what the media thinks about police, just go to Google and type the word in. You’ll find yourself overrun with articles about bad cops, killer officers and a system of oppression. 

In our view, the officers that are being thrown under the bus deserve a chance to defend themselves before having their reputations torn apart in the public eye.

This is America. Due process exists. Let’s do our best to remember that. 

 

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