College Towers investigation ends

Elise Franco

The three-week-long investigation into two complaints filed against Kent police officers has been resolved.

According to the investigation report filed by Kent Police Capt. Michelle Lee, “I have reviewed Kent Police Department’s Use of Force Policy in its entirety. There appeared to be an obvious lack of respect for the officers’ uniformed presence and verbal commands in and outside the apartment.”

She then stated officers Lt. James Cole and Ptl. John Gormsen’s use of pepper spray was consistent with the Use of Force Policy.

The report stated that because of the chaotic circumstances in the apartment and a lack of witnesses, Christina Danko’s claim of being inappropriately touched by an officer couldn’t prove to be anything other than accidental.

Kent Police Chief James Peach also concluded, after reviewing the investigation report, that the correct amount of force consistent with department policies was used in the situation.

Tina Winborn and Danko filed complaints against the department, citing excessive force and inappropriate touching by officers who were called to Rick Rucker’s apartment because of a noise violation Jan. 7.

According to the report, each officer involved in the incident was interviewed extensively during the investigation process.

“We do have a very comprehensive process to determine if officers broke with standard policy or procedure or if any criminal activities took place,” Peach said.

Winborn and Danko were sent notices in the mail upon completion of the investigation.

Winborn said she is tired of the entire situation and glad it’s finally over.

“It’s the never-ending battle, a lose-lose situation no matter what you do,” she said. “If you fight it, the cops are going to do whatever they can to make themselves look like the good guys, and if you don’t do anything about it, they still win.”

Winborn said she will take no further independent action in the matter, but she will testify on behalf of Rucker if he asks her to.

Rucker said right now he is still working out his complaint with the NAACP and doesn’t know when or if he will take any other legal action.

“In order to complete my complaint, I have to take witness statements from all my guests,” he said. “I honestly just do not have the time to do that right now.”

Peach said he isn’t worried about future actions taken by Rucker or anyone else involved in the matter.

“I am confident that the facts speak for themselves,” he said.

Rucker said he isn’t pleased with the out come of the investigation or with the way it was conducted.

“My major discrepancy is that the person who does the internal affairs investigation is someone who is within the Kent Police Department, not someone who comes in from outside,” he said. “I feel like they’re always going to have a bias because of that.”

Rucker’s reaction isn’t a surprise, and Peach said the Kent Police Department’s standard of conduct is far higher than community members expect.

“We take all complaints seriously and use the most comprehensive process to determine fault,” he said. “It’s our duty to investigate thoroughly to maintain confidence from the community.

“Our standards must be high in order to properly serve.”

Peach also said he knows people will keep asking to hear both sides of the story.

“There aren’t two sides anymore,” he said. “The investigation’s purpose was to uncover the facts, and that’s what we have now: fact.”

Contact public affairs reporter Elise Franco at [email protected].