Indicted Ketchikan police chief placed on administrative leave

A man in a police uniform stands behind a lectern
Ketchikan Police Chief Jeff Walls speaks at a meet-and-greet at the Ted Ferry Civic Center on March 24, 2022. Walls succeeded Joe White as chief. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

Ketchikan’s police chief has been placed on paid administrative leave after he was indicted for an alleged assault related to an off-duty incident in September.

In an email, Ketchikan City Manager Delilah Walsh says Walls is on leave while the city conducts an internal investigation.

“Chief Walls is currently on administrative leave while we complete our internal review,” Walsh said in an email Wednesday morning.

It’s unclear how long that review will take. Walsh declined to comment on how long Walls might be on leave or when he could return to work. Walsh says Deputy Police Chief Eric Mattson will take over as acting chief in the meantime.

Walls was indicted by a Ketchikan grand jury last week on felony third-degree assault charges and five related misdemeanors.

Prosecutors say Walls slammed a man against a stone wall and held him in a chokehold for one to two minutes after the man drunkenly stumbled into Walls’ wife’s bar chair at a restaurant at Salmon Falls Resort. The man required stitches for his injuries.

Walls has pleaded not guilty and denied the charges. His attorney, Jay Hochberg, says Walls reacted appropriately to what he believed was an assault on his wife.

Hochberg said Wednesday his client expected to be placed on leave during the city’s internal investigation and hoped to return to work soon.

“We expect Chief Walls to be reinstated after that investigation. We hope it moves quickly, but, of course, with all due deliberation,” Hochberg said by phone.

Hochberg says Walls is well-liked in Ketchikan and has received “tremendous and deep expressions of support” from police department colleagues and other community members.

Walls is due back in court Feb. 7. His trial is scheduled for mid-March.

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