"Mistrial declared in ex-police union president John Gately’s obstruction trial"

DAVID ALLEN, attorney
John Gately, defendant

John Gately, left, and his attorney, David Allen, leave court after a hung jury failed to come to agreement in the case of Gately's involvement in the case against fellow police officer Gordon Ennis on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at the Spokane County Courthouse. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

By Rachel Alexander 

A mistrial was declared Tuesday afternoon in the weeklong trial of former Spokane Police Guild President John Gately.

Gately was accused of obstructing an investigation of a fellow officer accused of rape by making two phone calls to the suspect, Gordon Ennis, during the early days of the investigation.

Superior Court Judge John Cooney declared a mistrial after each juror told him they were deadlocked and did not think they would be able to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury was split eight to four in favor of acquittal.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours in the case, beginning late Monday afternoon.

Prosecutor Stefanie Collins will now decide whether to retry Gately on the misdemeanor charge. She did not comment on the case and left the courtroom quickly after conferring with jurors.

Gately’s attorney, David Allen, said that while he and Gately were hoping for an acquittal by the jury, he viewed the outcome as a victory. He said he hoped the state would not pursue the case further.

“They can try this case 10 more times, but I don’t believe they’ll do any better than a hung jury,” he said. He said the fact that eight jurors wanted to acquit was “tantamount to a dismissal” of the charges.

Prosecutors charged Gately with obstruction last December after cellphone records showed he made two calls to Ennis after a fellow female officer accused Ennis of raping her at a party. She told investigators she passed out and woke up to Ennis putting his fingers inside her vagina, court documents said.

When Spokane County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrived to serve a search warrant collecting DNA from Ennis’ fingernails, they found his nails appeared freshly trimmed and were not able to gather clippings. After serving a second warrant, investigators found the victim’s DNA on a seat belt in Ennis’ car and were able to file rape charges.

Prosecutors alleged Gately tipped off Ennis about the warrant and the fact that he was under investigation. At trial, Gately testified he called Ennis in his capacity as Guild president – first, to make sure he wouldn’t talk to any potential witnesses in the case, and second, to tell Ennis that he was going to be placed on administrative leave and have his name sent out to the media in a news release.

Gately originally was charged with two counts of rendering criminal assistance, a felony, but Superior Court Judge John Cooney dropped those charges April 1. Gately had been on unpaid leave since the charges were filed, but was placed on paid leave after the felony charges were dropped. He also became eligible for back pay for the time spent on unpaid leave.

Gately was paid $176,956 in 2015. In total, he’s spent just over six months on leave.

The Spokane Police Department will conduct an internal investigation into Gately’s behavior once the criminal case is concluded. Assistant Chief Craig Meidl said in an email Thursday that the department would wait to see whether prosecutors decide to retry the case before bringing Gately back to work or beginning the investigation.

Click here for link to the story online.

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