Spokane LT Not Guilty Of Assaulting Police

The long saga of a Spokane fire lieutenant who was falsely accused of two different sets of offenses by Washington State Patrol, ended yesterday with a not-guilty verdict.

Lieutenant Todd Chism was arrested in 2008 after police discovered his credit card had been used to download child pornography. Chism was suspended from the fire department and vigorously proclaimed his innocence. The charges were later dismissed when it was proven that he was the victim of identity fraud and had no connection with the pornography.

Chism then filed a $12 million suit against the Washington State Patrol alleging that its shoddy investigation violated his civil rights and destroyed both his family and his reputation. The case was dismissed in January 2010.

Shortly thereafter, Chism was arrested by State Patrol troopers who claimed he resisted arrest and assaulted them outside his house. The officers were investigating why Chism’s truck had gone off the road. Chism was tasered seven (7) times and photos entered into evidence at trial showed his face was beaten. Chism also needed surgery to repair his thumb that he alleged officers grabbed and twisted during the scuffle.

Chism was found not guilty of four felony charges and one misdemeanor stemming from the altercation. The jury also ordered the State of Washington to pay the legal bill for his defense. No word on when he will be returning to work, or if he plans to file another civil suit. More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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