Two Snohomish County deputies fired for dishonesty two months ago have been reinstated to their jobs by newly elected Sheriff Adam Fortney, just days after he reinstated another deputy who had been fired following the shooting of an unarmed man whose family was paid $1 million by the county to settle a civil-rights and wrongful-death lawsuit.
In a memo issued last week, Fortney said he would grant grievances filed by the deputies’ union and would rehire Master Patrol Deputy Matt Boice and Deputy Evan Twedt, both of whom had been fired by former three-term Sheriff Ty Trenary just days before the election. Fortney had accused Trenary of playing politics with discipline during the race, alleging the former sheriff was retaliating against deputies who supported Fortney during the election.
Boice and Twedt were dismissed after an internal investigation determined they had performed a warrantless and illegal search on a car during at traffic stop in Snohomish in 2017 and then tried to cover it up, according to documents.
Election records at the Public Disclosure Commission reviewed last week indicate that Boice and Twedt both contributed to Fortney’s campaign for sheriff. The amounts were relatively small — a few hundred dollars. The exact amounts were not immediately available because the PDC’s website was down Tuesday.
Fortney, a 23-year veteran in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, is the former president of the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. He resigned when he announced he was running for sheriff, and was replaced as union president by Boice. Records indicates that Boice and Twedt had been supervised by Fortney, who was a patrol sergeant when he announced his campaign last April. Fortney defeated Trenary with 56% of the vote in the November election.
Fortney during his campaign had promised to review the discipline meted out by Trenary to Boice, Twedt and Deputy Art Wallin, who was involved in a shooting that claimed the life of 24-year-old Nicholas Peters following a chase near Bothell last year. All three had been supervised by Fortney in the field. Fortney himself was disciplined by Trenary for his role in allowing Wallin to engage in a pursuit with Peters.
Trenary, who was sheriff at the time, fired Wallin for multiple policy violations after Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell determined that Peters’ shooting death did not violated the law. Reinstating Wallin to the department was one of Fortney’s first official acts as sheriff.
The sheriff’s office on Monday had denied Fortney had reinstated the deputies. Spokeswoman Shari Ireton said that Fortney was reviewing the dismissals as part of his campaign promises. However, as with Wallin, Fortney issued a memorandum — dated Friday — that announced his decision to reinstate Boice and Twedt and his justifications behind it. In that memo, Fortney said it appeared that Boice and Twedt had failed to properly document and file reports regarding the search of the vehicle, which turned up drugs and a gun. As discipline, Fortney said a letter of reprimand will be placed in each of their files for three years.
Fortney, in his letter, said the two deputies were blamed for an oversight made by a police trainee who was helping inventory evidence seized during a traffic stop.
“I do not believe [Deputy] Boice or [Deputy] Twedt purposefully violated any laws whatsoever, nor were they dishonest in any of the dealings related to this matter,” Fortney wrote.