Report released on incident involving former deputy

The Columbia County Sheriff said the report would have resulted in a suspension for Mark Franklin.


DAYTON - Six months after an incident involving four Waitsburg residents and an off-duty Columbia County Sheriff's deputy, results of an investigation conducted by an Asotin County deputy were made available last week.

The Union-Bulletin obtained a copy of the document through a public records request.

Columbia County Sheriff Walt Hessler said the report would have resulted in a suspension for Deputy Mark Franklin, if he were still employed.

Franklin submitted his resignation June 5, four days after he was put on administrative leave.

Hessler said the Asotin County report and an earlier report by Columbia County Chief Deputy Joseph Helm showed Franklin was untruthful about the incident that sparked the investigations, did not produce his credentials when asked, took on a "personal investigation" outside the office without clearing it with anyone, and mistreated members of the public by using profane language.

The sheriff is wrong, Franklin said in a phone interview Friday.

"I wasn't acting in the capacity of an officer. I was acting as a citizen. I was representing myself. I had no identification. I don't carry my police identification with me when I'm not on duty," Franklin said.

Franklin said he was not untruthful, but "it's a matter of semantics" in describing his actions in a convenience store parking lot Feb. 11.

He also contends he did not use foul language, except when he responded to the language used by Brandie Nettles.

"There was no reason for me to use vulgar language," he said.

The situation began late in the evening of Feb. 11. Franklin was off-duty and returning from a family gathering in Walla Walla. He stopped at the convenience store at the intersection of Preston Avenue (U.S. Highway 12) and Taggart Road to buy gas.

While Franklin was waiting for the tank to fill, a red Camaro drove through the parking lot at what Franklin said was a high rate of speed.

Franklin located the car parked outside a house on Taggart Road, intending to inform the driver that her maneuver was unsafe.

The driver, Brandie Nettles, came out of her father's house and confronted Franklin after he had conversations with two females who lived across the street and a male passenger in the Camaro.

The reports say a profane verbal exchange ensued between Franklin and Nettles.

Nettles returned to the house, and her grandmother, Delores Nettles, came out. The exchange between Delores Nettles and Franklin was calm and civil, according to investigative reports.

Franklin contacted the Walla Walla County Sheriff's office and requested a deputy come to the Taggart Road location. Two deputies came, and Brandie Nettles was issued a citation for second-degree negligent driving.

The following day, Brandie Nettles' father, Scott Nettles, obtained a portion of a surveillance video from the convenience store.

It showed the time before, during and shortly after Brandie's car is seen moving quickly through the parking lot.

Nettles's copy of the tape, and another video he took of his own car driving through the parking lot, along with measurements he made, were submitted as evidence in District Court, according to the investigators' reports.

The case against Brandie Nettles was dismissed in Walla Walla District Court on April 6.

Brandie and Delores Nettles filed formal written complaints Feb. 12 with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office against Franklin.

Helm began an investigation and completed it May 19. Hessler received the report on May 23.

On June 1, Hessler placed Franklin on administrative leave, and requested an investigation of the matter by Asotin County Sheriff's Office.

Franklin believes Hessler planned to fire him following the investigations.

"Two weeks before I was put on administrative leave, I got notification that Joe Helm's son was going around school saying I was going to be fired," Franklin said.

Franklin worked for Columbia County for 12 years. He has been at odds with Hessler since Hessler was elected in 2006. After the election, Franklin was demoted from undersheriff to deputy.

Franklin ran against Hessler in 2010 and lost 1,348 to 784 votes.

After the election, Franklin and his wife purchased a house in Walla Walla, and have moved to Walla Walla.

"I've kind of gotten a sour taste in my mouth for it (law enforcement) now. I'm really discouraged," Franklin said.


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