Deputy may face criminal charges in 911 hang-up incident

Case sent to state

A criminal case is pending against the Island County deputy who allegedly failed to respond to a 911-hang-up call last month in Freeland.

Jay Wallace, a deputy sheriff and a candidate for Island County sheriff, has been under investigation for allegedly ignoring a 911 hang-up call from a woman being held prisoner in a home near Freeland Park last month. The woman escaped the morning after being held hostage and called police from a nearby park.

Wallace has been the subject of two probes; an in-house administrative investigation by the sheriff’s office and a parallel criminal investigation by the Oak Harbor Police Department.

Island County prosecutor has forwarded the results of the Oak Harbor investigation to the state attorney general’s office, and the Island County sheriff’s office has placed Wallace on administrative leave.

The internal investigation on Wallace’s reaction to two 911 calls last month has turned up evidence of a possible crime centering on how Wallace explained the incident to investigators.

Island County officials could not give specific details of the ongoing internal investigation.

And citing a potential conflict of interest, the Island County prosecutor’s office has sent the case to the state attorney general’s office.

No charges have been filed against Wallace, who is one of four Republican candidates running for Island County sheriff.

On Feb. 9, the sheriff’s office launched an internal investigation on Wallace by using a recently retired investigator from Island County.

When evidence of a crime surfaced during that internal investigation, Sheriff Mike Hawley was notified.

“I immediately contacted an outside agency to conduct a criminal investigation,” Hawley said.

The criminal investigation was conducted by the Oak Harbor Police Department and was forwarded to the county prosecutor on March 2.

“Because of a potential conflict of interest, I sent the case to the state attorney general’s office,” said Greg Banks, Island County prosecutor.

“The case was too sensitive for our office to handle,” Banks said.

“It is best to have an independent body look at the case for people to have confidence in the decision,” he said.

Banks said he did not review the case, but simply passed it on to the attorney general’s office.

“I sent it on to the state the same day we received it,” Banks said. “The Oak Harbor Police Department concluded there was enough evidence to move forward.”

Officials from the state attorney general’s office said the office has started its review of the case.

“I have reviewed part of it. I am requesting more information from the Oak Harbor Police Department,” said prosecutor Rosalyn DiIorio.

Hawley said he was notified by Banks by memo that a criminal case had been forwarded to the attorney general’s office.

“The internal investigation in this matter was temporarily suspended, while the criminal investigation was being conducted by the outside agency,” Hawley said. “When that agency’s case was completed and referred to the attorney general’s office, the internal investigation resumed. It is anticipated that it will be completed shortly, and forwarded for review.”

“I expect the internal investigation will be wrapped up in about 10 days,” Hawley said. “There was delay at the request of Deputy Wallace for a family matter.”

Wallace is out of state and could not be reached for comment by The Record.

Hawley said he will remain impartial and will not know the details of the internal investigation until it is finished.

“This is to ensure Deputy Wallace due process and not to bias my decision,” Hawley said.

Wallace has been placed on administrative leave, he said.

When the investigation is completed, Hawley will get the results of the inquiry to determine if Wallace followed sheriff office procedures relating to the 911 hang-up calls.

Wallace could be disciplined or fired if the report shows that he failed to follow the department’s policy on 911 calls.

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