Charge against ex-deputy dropped

A misdemeanor misconduct charge against a former Clallam County sheriff’s deputy will be dismissed if he agrees not to contact his accuser for two years.

Donald Bruce Kitchen IV, 50, agreed in a March 4 stipulated order of continuance that the facts contained in police reports and attachments in his District Court 1 file related to his Oct. 2 traffic stop of a 17-year-old boy were enough to support a conviction.

“I acknowledge that the above items will be used to support a finding of guilty if the stipulated order of continuance is revoked,” he said in the agreement, which was approved by Judge Dave Neupert on March 4, Kitchen’s scheduled arraignment date.

Neupert can impose the maximum penalty of 364 days in jail if Kitchen does not abide by two conditions: that he not contact the teen, now 18, and does not violate a criminal law.

Kitchen was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 12. He resigned effective Jan. 31, six days after the criminal complaint was filed. His salary was $85,239.

Sheriff Bill Benedict said on March 15 that the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission likely will revoke Kitchen’s peace officer license unless Kitchen files an appeal.

“That continuance is treated as a conviction,” Benedict said.

“He made a terrible mistake, and he owned up to it.”

Kitchen, a Marine Corps veteran who, according to the assessor’s office, owns a home in Sequim, could not be reached for comment.

Kitchen was charged in Clallam County District Court after the Sheriff’s Office and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Clallam County referred the case to Kitsap County authorities.

The Clallam County Sheriff’s Office supplied Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Detective Michael Grant with related cases involving Kitchen’s son and a transcript of an interview with the 17-year-old, a friend of Kitchen’s son.

“It is alleged that on or about October 2, 2021, Deputy Kitchen conducted an unlawful detention of a juvenile driver without cause in violation of Clallam County Sheriff’s Office policy,” Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said in a Nov. 17 letter to Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols.

Kitchen was on duty when he stopped the teen, patrol vehicle lights on, to talk with him about a Jefferson County criminal investigation involving Kitchen’s son, a suspect in the case, according to a probable cause statement written by Grant.

A friend of the teen told Jefferson County detectives about the traffic stop.

According to the transcript of an interview with the teen, he said he was driving on Carlsborg Road in the Sequim area when a police vehicle’s lights turned on briefly behind him and he pulled over.

He said he recognized Kitchen as the person who stopped him.

“I’m not stopping you for anything,” Kitchen told the teen, the teen said.

“The conversation that followed concerned Deputy Kitchen addressing ‘rumors’ which were being spread about his son,” according to the probable cause statement.

The 17-year-old said the stop was about two to three minutes long.

“ … just wanted to make sure that like we weren’t spreading any rumors because I know some kids at the school that are … ,” the teen said Kitchen said.

“He, he didn’t seem like he was like pushing anything, like making it seem like I was spreading them or. Um, he was totally laid back about it,” the teen said.

“It wasn’t like, I didn’t feel pressured or anything.”

Referring to being pulled over, the teen said, “Yeah, I thought I did something wrong,” according to the report.

The teen’s father, who was present for the interview, said after the traffic stop his son called him.

“He was a little bit rattled,” the father said.

“I was shaking,” the teen said.

Kitchen said during an interview with Grant that on Oct. 2 he was traveling behind a vehicle that he recognized as the teen’s.

“He said he momentarily turned on his solid light for ‘less than a second,’ after (the teen) turned westbound onto Spath Road,” according to Grant’s report.

Kitchen characterized the stop as a “social contact” and did not notify dispatch.

“It was spontaneous in that moment,” he said.

Kitchen said he told the teen he wanted to “offer his thanks for being a friend of his son’s (during the pending cases),” according to Grant’s report.

A Port Angeles police report listed the teen Kitchen stopped as a witness in the case against his son, Grant said.

Asked by Grant if he knew the teen was listed as a witness or was involved in any criminal reports involving his son, Kitchen said, ‘he’s not, not involved in any way,” Kitchen responded.

“I know the people who are involved in all his cases,” Kitchen said.

“If he were, I wouldn’t have spoken to him.”

Kitchen told Grant he wanted “to thank (the teen he stopped) for being kind to my son” and was “doing something nice” to thank him.

The teen said Kitchen did not use the word “thank” or “thanks,” according to Grant’s review of the transcript.

The transcript showed the teen did not say that Kitchen had expressed gratitude toward him, Grant said.

Kitchen attended Sequim High School for three years and graduated from Forks High School.

He was a reserve officer for the Sequim Police Department, a corrections officer at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Aberdeen and an officer with the Lower Elwha Police Department for five years before being hired by the Sheriff’s Office in December 2013.

Port Townsend lawyer Alexandrea Schodowski, who represented Kitchen, and Special Deputy Prosecuting Joy Faraj of the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, who prosecuted the case, did not return calls for comment Tuesday.