A Washington state police officer once told a coworker he would “say exactly what's on my mind, unless I'm on body camera.” This week, his boast came back to haunt him. The Spokane Police Department suspended Officer Nathan Nash without pay after a domestic violence victim accused him of assaulting her, and a police investigation found he had turned off his body camera during the event.
The investigation began in October, when a domestic violence victim told the police department Nash had sexually assaulted her in a follow-up call to her house. The woman says she called Nash to ask about the location of her evidence photos, according to court documents obtained by KXLY. Nash allegedly asked her to meet in a private place to “go over the bruises on her body” and then pressed her to let him come over before her mother returned.
On his way to the woman’s apartment, Nash allegedly turned off both his body camera and tracking equipment, resulting in a 36-minute location gap that a police analyst later described as “peculiar.” Once inside, the woman says, Nash followed her into her bedroom and directed her to take off her pants and underwear. She told investigators she was confused by the request, but complied because he was a police officer.
The woman says Nash then penetrated her with his fingers for 30 seconds to a minute. She says she panicked, but thought it might be what he was supposed to do. Eventually, she says she told Nash "OK, that's enough." She later told investigators the alleged assault was the worst thing that has ever happened" to her.
Before leaving, the woman says, he gave her his personal cellphone number. He did not photograph or otherwise document her bruises.
When questioned by investigators, Nash blamed the incident on the domestic violence victim, suggesting that she had come on to him and become “embarrassed, mad, or upset,” when he ended the sexual contact, according to court documents. He added that the police department's body camera manual was more than 100 pages and “there's no way I'm gonna know all that content."
In a statement after Nash's arrest, his personal attorney Rocco Treppiedi said Nash “categorically denies the allegation of sexual assault and any criminal activity.”
“Ofc. Nash considered the additional evidence she provided, and immediately followed up on the information she provided,” Treppiedi said. Nash’s attorneys did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
In the weeks after the initial report, two more women came forward with concerns about Nash. One was a second domestic violence victim, who told investigators that Nash had come on to her while he was investigating her complaint in May.
During a visit to her home, the woman said, Nash made a point of turning off his bodycam, then gave her his personal cellphone number and said he would respond faster than 911. Over the following weeks, she says he friended her on Facebook and started liking photos of her in lingerie, and sending her “creepy” and “needy” messages. According to court documents, she told investigators she felt he “had a hidden agenda of starting a relationship with her.”
A police department volunteer also complained about Nash, claiming he had given her his personal number and sent her inappropriate texts, including a Jeopardy-themed message reading, “Things I would like to do to you for $600,” and “Answer: what is a naked back rub?”
“I’m too old to play games, no need in beating around the bush,” Nash allegedly wrote in another message. “I just say exactly what’s on my mind, unless I’m on body camera."
Nash was arrested on Nov. 22 and pleaded not guilty to second- and third-degree rape and official misconduct. His trial is set to begin in February.
Nash was originally placed on administrative leave while the investigation progressed. This week, the police department put him on “unpaid lay-off status,” meaning he will not work or be paid until the outcome of his case is determined. If he is found not guilty, he will be reinstated while the department investigates whether he violated any department policy, City spokesperson Marlene Feist told local news station KREM.
“The alleged conduct is completely unacceptable and in absolute conflict with the high standards of the Spokane Police Department,” Chief Craig Meidl said in a press release. “Our men and women took an oath to protect and serve the community in which we live. We will not shy away from that oath and it will be upheld.”