Hedquist Expert Witness: Former Casper Police Chief Chris Walsh Violated Ethics
Former Casper Police Chief Chris Walsh violated law enforcement ethics when he investigated former Casper City Councilman Craig Hedquist, according to an expert witness report for Hedquist who is suing Walsh in federal court.
"As a matter of ethics and practice, NO (emphasis supplied) Chief of Police should undertake an investigation of an elected official or any other citizen without having first received a legitimate criminal complaint allegation against that person," D.P. Van Blaricom wrote in a report filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.
A year ago, Hedquist sued Walsh, now a Casper City Councilman, after learning that Walsh allegedly conducted database research on behalf of former Casper City Manager John Patterson. Hedquist also has sued Patterson in a separate federal case, which was dismissed in April and is now before the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hedquist's deadline for submitting a list of expert witnesses was Wednesday, and the sole witness listed was Van Blaricom, a former police chief in Bellevue, Wash., with 50 years of law enforcement experience.
Walsh's attorney Anna Marie Reeves Olson said Thursday she could not comment on Van Blaricom's report. However, she anticipates filing Walsh's list of witnesses in about a month, she added.
Van Blaricom reviewed the court documents filed in the case including those in a separate federal lawsuit against Patterson; and depositions of Walsh, former Police Chief Jim Wetzel, Natrona County District Attorney Mike Blonigen, and Patterson; and standards of care and law enforcement ethics.
He referred to an phone call unknowingly recorded on Aug. 7, 2013, during which Walsh and Patterson talked about Hedquist.
This is a transcript of part of that conversation:
- "1) Walsh -- 'Chief Walsh.'
- "2) Patterson -- 'Hey. You talking about my favorite council member?'
- "3) Walsh -- 'Yeah. I wanted to be a little bit vague. Umm ...'
- "4) Patterson -- 'Thank you.'
- "5) Walsh -- 'And, ya know, continue to be a little bit, but I'll, I'll put all this together, and uh, I'll get it to you and we can see what you find useful. I mean I've got everything from past and present house, land purchases, associations, all that kinda stuff so ...'
- 6) Patterson -- 'Well cool....'"
They were referring to the results of a search on a police department database called TLO that Walsh ordered on July 29, 2013, to find information about Hedquist, according to the lawsuit filed a year ago. The resulting 124-page report included his personal information about employers, email and physical addresses, personal property, relatives and associates.
Walsh also used another database to search for information about Hedquist, including before and after Hedquist was elected in November 2012, according to court documents. Hedquist resigned from city council in July 2015.
Van Blaricom also reviewed a deposition of Walsh, who said Patterson was interested in Hedquist's properties and whether he lived outside of his elected Ward II.
Van Blaricom noted these among other parts of the deposition:
- "When asked, 'Wasn't it clear to you that he (City Manager Patterson) wanted Mr. Headquist off the City Council?' and 'that's the final solution he's talking about', he replied, 'That would certainly be my assumption' and 'my best guess'" [sic].
- "When asked, 'So now you're using your office to help Mr. Patterson put together some background information and investigative report on Mr. Hedquist's assets, is that right?', he replied, 'I guess we could be splitting hairs on investigative report'"
Blaricom concluded, "It is clear from the foregoing information, which is literally out of defendant's own mouth that, as Chief of Police and by use of CPD resources, defendant Walsh collaborated, colluded and/or conspired with City Manager Patterson to conduct a police investigation of an elected official for strictly political purposes."