When the King County Sheriff's Office hired the former Detroit police officer in February 2017, sheriff's officials say they didn't know he was being investigated for beating a man in his previous job.
A King County sheriff’s deputy could lose his job after he was convicted this week of assault and misconduct for punching a man repeatedly in the face in August 2016 while he was working as a police officer in Detroit.
King County Undersheriff Scott Somers is recommending that Deputy Edward Hicks be fired for allegedly lying on his pre-employment questionnaire, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Office. Hicks was hired in February 2017.
Hicks, 28, was convicted by a Wayne County, Michigan, jury on Monday of misdemeanor aggravated assault and felony misconduct in office.
Detroit police provided Hicks’ personnel records to the Sheriff’s Office in November 2016 but didn’t disclose to investigators that Hicks was the subject of an internal investigation into the 2016 incident, according to the news release.
Most Read Local Stories
- Big gap between Pfizer, Moderna vaccines seen for preventing COVID hospitalizations
- Wondering why society went off-kilter during the pandemic? It was all predicted in this book
- 2 killed in crash on I-90 after car hydroplaned, officials say
- One killed in North Seattle shooting
- For older adults, isolation can lead to overwhelming loneliness
In December, sheriff’s officials learned of the allegations in Michigan and placed Hicks on paid administrative leave. An internal investigation into whether Hicks provided truthful answers on his questionnaire was started, then put on hold while the criminal case against Hicks proceeded, the Sheriff’s Office said.
According to a spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, the case was initially investigated by the Detroit Police Department’s internal investigations unit before it was sent to prosecutors, who conducted their own investigation and charged Hicks on Dec. 20, 2017.
At the time, Worthy’s office outlined the allegations against Hicks in a news release:
Around 10 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2016, Hicks and his partner drove up to 31-year-old Deonta Stewart, who was on foot. Hicks yelled for Stewart to stop, but Stewart ran away. During the foot pursuit, Stewart looked back and, realizing he was being pursued by a police officer, stopped running.
Hicks then was accused of punching Stewart numerous times in the face, causing significant facial injuries.
Stewart was arrested. But before Stewart was taken to the Detroit Detention Center (DDC), it was alleged that Hicks told him “to give a false statement to the intake officer about his arrest and injuries,” according to the release. “Stewart was later released from DDC and sought medical treatment at a hospital.”
The release doesn’t say why Stewart was arrested or if he faced any charges.
Hicks is to be sentenced in Michigan on July 27.
Under Michigan’s penal code, aggravated misdemeanor assault is punishable by up to a year in jail, making it comparable to a gross misdemeanor in Washington. Felony misconduct in office has a maximum punishment of five years in prison, which is the same as a Class C felony here.
Now that Hicks has been convicted, the sheriff’s internal investigation will move forward, with Somers recommending to Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht that Hicks’ employment be terminated. In a copy of a letter provided to the media, Hicks was notified that Somers has sustained a finding of serious misconduct involving dishonesty and misconduct that is criminal in nature.
The letter notes that any felony conviction automatically disqualifies an employee from holding a position within the Sheriff’s Office, according to the news release.
Before Johanknecht makes a final decision about Hicks’ discipline, he has the option of providing any mitigating information and the right to attend a hearing and appear before Johanknecht, though attendance is not mandatory.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Ryan Abbott said Hicks, as a hire from another police agency, would have gone through the same hiring process as a new recruit, including a psychological evaluation, polygraph exam, medical tests and a full background check.
According to Abbott, an internal investigation into “the entire hiring process” of Hicks, who was hired by former Sheriff John Urquhart, is continuing to determine if something was missed. The internal investigation will continue even if Johanknecht terminates Hicks, he said.