A deputy county attorney from the Flathead County Attorney’s Office is on administrative leave after he was arrested, jailed and subsequently released for an alleged assault over the weekend.
Kenneth “Rusty” Park was arrested Friday night after a woman at a Kila home called 911. Park was charged with partner family member assault. County Attorney Ed Corrigan said Park was cited for a misdemeanor.
In a shift from normal procedure, however, Justice of the Peace Mark Sullivan granted Park a late-night initial hearing, and went to the jail after midnight at Park’s attorney’s request.
According to Sheriff Chuck Curry, inmates would usually stay in jail over the weekend if they were arrested on a Friday.
“This is unusual,” Curry said of the midnight hearing.
Park’s attorney, Thane Johnson, told the Associated Press that his client “risked attack by an inmate if he remained in jail,” because he is a local prosecutor, and “there should be a policy to keep arrested prosecutors and law-enforcement officers in a separate facility from inmates they arrest or prosecute.”
But Curry disputed the notion that Park was unsafe in the Flathead County Detention Center. While the jail doesn’t have specified segregation cells, Curry said, there is protocol in place to keep such an inmate safe from the general population.
On the night Park was arrested, Curry spoke with the jail officers about Park, to ensure he was not placed in general population. He was separated, Curry said.
“We certainly have the ability to keep inmates segregated from other inmates. That night we certainly did that,” Curry said. “We would not take anybody in law enforcement or a prosecutor or a judge and put them in population with other inmates.”
Curry said his job is to maintain the safety and security at the jail, and Park was not in danger that evening, and wouldn’t have been seen or identified by the other inmates.
“We made absolutely certain that he would be in a safe place,” Curry said.
Park was released on his own recognizance after the late-night initial hearing. Corrigan said either the attorney general or a different prosecutor would take a look at the case, because he is in not the position to make any decisions about whether to prosecute.
Park was placed on administrative leave with pay until the situation is resolved, Corrigan said.