Clark County Today learns of as many as 60 boxes of Internal Affairs documents provided to Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2013-2014

Clark County Today has learned that between 30 and 60 boxes of original Internal Affairs documents were provided to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2013 and 2014 that included details of performance issues by current Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Chief Criminal Deputy John Horch.

Prosecuting attorney disputes claims made by former CCSO Sheriff Garry Lucas and former Chief Civil Deputy Erin Nolan that documents were provided; including those detailing performance issues by current Sheriff’s candidate John Horch

Clark County Today has learned that between 30 and 60 boxes of original Internal Affairs documents were provided to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2013 and 2014 that included details of performance issues by current Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Chief Criminal Deputy John Horch. 

John Horch
John Horch

Horch is on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election as a candidate for Clark County sheriff. He is opposing Rey Reynolds, a long-time veteran of the Vancouver Police Department. On Friday (Oct. 28), Clark County Today published a story that included multiple performance issues in Horch’s employee files and performance evaluations. The issues ranged from failing to turn a weapon into property, a suspension for destroying diversity posters at CCSO precincts, a demotion from sergeant to deputy and a history of as many as 12 domestic violence calls during his relationship with his first wife. Those issues were detailed in 53 pages of documents that were acquired through a Public Records Request and provided by Clark County Today along with the story. 

Tony Golik, Clark County prosecuting attorney
Tony Golik, Clark County prosecuting attorney

In the Oct. 28 story, Clark County Today reported that it had provided Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik with the 53 pages of documents from Horch’s employee files and performance evaluations. Golik, who joined the Prosecuting Attorney’s office in 2000 as a deputy prosecutor and became prosecuting attorney in January 2011, confirmed that he reviewed the documents that he was provided by Clark County Today. 

“I have reviewed the documents attached to your email,’’ Golik said in an Oct. 27 phone conversation. Golik also told Clark County Today he had no plans for a further internal review of the documents detailing incidents of Horch’s performance, “I just saw this (information) for the first time. I have no intention of rushing into any possible (review) process.’’

As a result of the Oct. 28 story, Golik was contacted on Monday (Oct. 31) via email by former CCSO Chief Civil Deputy Erin Nolan about the 30-60 boxes of documents she stated were provided to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 2013 and 2014. Nolan also told Clark County Today, “I know for sure Horch files were in those boxes.’’

Nolan retired from the CCSO in 2016. She then filed a lawsuit against the county alleging that she experienced gender discrimination and a sexually hostile work environment. In the lawsuit, Nolan claimed that she was placed on leave without explanation and was the subject of an unfounded investigation. The lawsuit was settled out of court. 

The transfer of the documents

Nolan shared with Clark County Today the history of how and why the documents were transferred from the CCSO to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. Nolan noted that prior to her tenure as chief civil deputy, no historic review of records held within the Internal Affairs Office of the CCSO had been done, ever. 

Nolan stated that in 2013 Golik spoke at a meeting of multiple law enforcement officials about any sustained allegations, investigations of misconduct, criminal conduct, excessive use of force and any other documented conduct that might fit the guidelines for the Brady List. Nolan stated that Golik requested that departments go through their Internal Affairs files and submit “any and all’’ documents that may include Brady disqualifying conduct to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for review.   

To ensure fair trials, the Supreme Court of the United States created the Brady doctrine obligating the prosecutor of every case to gather and disclose all information about any individual upon whose testimony they will rely. The Brady List is considered to be the definitive public-facing database of information about police misconduct, public complaints, use-of-force reports and more.

When reached by phone Thursday (Nov. 3) morning, former CCSO Sheriff Garry Lucas confirmed Nolan’s account of the CCSO project and the transfer of the IA files to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.

“That is true,’’ Lucas told Clark County Today repeatedly when told of Nolan’s account of the CCSO project and the transfer of the files to Golik’s office. “I can remember that.’’

Nolan informed Golik in Monday’s email that “I am aware that Internal Affairs files maintained by the Sheriff’s Office regarding the conduct of John Horch, and many other Sheriff’s Office employees both current and retired; as well as many former Sheriff’s employees who had since transferred to other law enforcement agencies who were investigated for conduct that appeared to fit the parameters set out in Brady were transferred to your office for review.’’  

Nolan said that after then Sheriff Lucas received advice from deputy prosecuting attorney Bernard Veljacic, a review of all the IA files began. Records Manager Pandora Pierce and Nolan began reviewing every IA file – paper copies that went back to the 1960’s and began either logging them for transfer to county archives those that met criteria for destruction, or retaining those that fit the retention schedules and transferring all that fit either the public records request, the request for production as part of existing litigation, and the transfer for Brady review.  

Nolan stated that over the course of 2013 and 2014, hundreds of investigations were reviewed. A spreadsheet was maintained that indicated which records were to be transferred for destruction, which records were to be retained and which were to be transferred to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review.    

Initially, Nolan said the boxes of original IA files were transferred to Veljacic. He would take possession of the boxes each Tuesday following the Sheriff’s Administrative staff meeting and would sign off on the spreadsheet as to which files were transferred. Two copies of the sign off sheets were maintained, one for the Prosecuting Attorney’s office, one for the CCSO. The verbal agreement was that once the original files were reviewed, they would be sent back to the Sheriff’s Office with instructions as to disposition – retention, destruction, etc.  

Nolan maintained the spreadsheet which contained columns of information including the IA or case number, the reason for transfer (harassment, public records request, Brady Review, criminal conduct, domestic violence, or excessive use of force) of the pages and to whom they were transferred. Each page had a signature line for the (deputy) prosecuting attorney to sign and date when they took custody of the files. Nolan said she is also aware the files were maintained electronically and there was a provision in place that if a file was marked for destruction, there is a destruction log that is maintained in accordance with Public Records Law indicating which files were slated for destruction and when. A log was maintained of those electronic files that were slated for destruction. Nolan said she doesn’t recall that any were destroyed at that time.  

The hard copy files that were slated for destruction were logged and transferred to county archives in accordance with long standing public records processes within the county and the CCSO.  

An abrupt end to the process

Nolan stated that at the end of 2014, when Sheriff Lucas, Undersheriff Joe Dunegan and Chief Civil Deputy Mike Evans retired, she was not fully finished with the IA review process. She stated that when Sheriff Chuck Atkins took office, she was immediately “locked out” of the IA files, both electronic and hard copy. She told Chief Criminal Deputy John Chapman that the review was nearly complete and asked to be allowed to complete the project. He declined and told her to transfer all the records to Commander Rusty Warren, which she did. Nolan said she is not aware of what work Commander Warren may have done following that transfer. Nolan did not maintain any copies of the logs or records personally.  

Nolan told Golik in her Oct. 31 email, “I am not aware that any of the files that were transferred to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office were ever transferred back to the Sheriff’s Office. I am not aware that any of the documents were transferred from the Prosecutor’s Office after review to County Archives for destruction. IF ANY of the documents were destroyed, there should be a full record, maintained by County Archives, indicating what date, and by whom the documents were destroyed and under what authority, in accordance with Public Records law.’’  

Golik’s response

When reached by Clark County Today Wednesday (Nov. 2) evening, Golik responded to questions about Nolan’s email by saying, “I don’t know what she is talking about.’’

Golik added, “there was not a request for all disciplinary documents. There was never a request to all law enforcement agencies for all IA documents on officers of all the law enforcement agencies in Clark County. That has never been our Brady policy.’’

In an Oct. 23, 2013 document entitled “Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Brady Policy and Brady Committee Protocol,’’ Golik made the following request in Section IV. “Law enforcement agencies will be asked to provide the Brady Committee with information on sustained findings of misconduct involving officer dishonesty. This includes any sustained findings or violations of a false written or verbal statement.’’

Golik may have been parsing words in response to the specific question asked by Clark County Today Wednesday. However, the question was asked repeatedly in several different forms, always with the same response from Golik.

“I’m not aware of that,’’ Golik said. “There was not a general request for all IA information from all agencies. It didn’t happen, hasn’t happened. I’m also not aware of that information being sent to our office for some other purpose. I’m not aware of that either.

“I’m not familiar with what she is talking about,’’ Golik said. “I’m very familiar with the discussions she’s referring to about Brady information but there was not a decision like she alleges in that email to collect up all IA information on officers. I don’t know what Erin is talking about regarding many boxes of information from IA files. I don’t know what that process is that she is talking about.’’

Golik added that he has no knowledge of the whereabouts of the boxes of documents Nolan and Lucas both confirmed had been provided to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office by the CCSO.

“We have a lot of case file stuff in a whole bunch of boxes, but not any IA stuff,’’ Golik said. “I don’t know what she (Nolan) is referring to in her email about those IA documents.’’

Golik added that he has not responded to Nolan. “I didn’t see it called for a response.’’

Horch performance issues

The documented performance issues involving candidate Horch that Clark County Today published in the Oct. 28 story included the following reports:

  • In 2000, Horch collected a gun into evidence at the scene of a suicide and did not turn the gun into property. When he was confronted about the missing gun, he found it in the trunk of his patrol car.
  • In 2004 that while Horch was going through a divorce, his own testimony was that there had been a history of a dozen or more DV (Domestic Violence) incidents during his relationship with his then wife.
  • As a result of multiple performance issues, on May 27, 2004 Horch received written notice of his demotion from the position of enforcement sergeant and returned to his previous appointment as a deputy sheriff II. 
  • Also in 2004, Horch admitted to removing two diversity posters from walls at two separate CCSO precincts. He was given a two-week suspension for that offense.

Do you believe there should be an investigation into missing Clark County Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs files, at either the CCSO or the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney's Office?*
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