By Rikki King Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — A Lake Stevens police officer was assigned additional training to hone his communication skills after he was involved in two high-profile incidents of alleged bad behavior.
Officer Steve Warbis was found to have violated the police department’s code of ethics and failed to promote a positive image as a police officer when he got into a barroom brawl in Everett in May 2012, according to a statement released by city officials.
The statement included the results of two internal investigations regarding Warbis conducted by former police chief Randy Celori. One dealt with the Everett bar fight. The other regarded a June 2011 arrest of a Marysville man that culminated with a federal civil rights lawsuit being settled out of court in December.
The police department’s internal investigation into the 2011 incident determined Warbis was the focus of unfounded claims of unlawful arrest, excessive use of force and inappropriate damage of private property.
The police department’s investigation also determined that Warbis did not violate any criminal or civil laws.
Lake Stevens officials in December agreed to pay Brandon Fenter and his family $100,000 to drop their suit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Fenter alleged that Warbis and officer James Wellington illegally arrested him at his Marysville home. He said he had been driving in Marysville the night before when he was waved down by an off-duty Warbis.
Warbis reportedly accused Fenter of driving recklessly and said he would send Fenter a citation in the mail.
Warbis and Wellington went to Fenter’s home the next day and arrested him. Fenter accused them of cursing at him and his family and damaging a gate at his home.
Reckless driving charges against Fenter later were dropped.
Less than a year later, Warbis was shot in the forehead with a stun gun fired by a man during a May 26 fight at the Fireplace Bar in Everett, records show.
Warbis and another man reportedly got into a shoving match after arguing about Warbis’ friends touching the man’s classic car parked outside. Witnesses disputed who started the fight. No one was arrested. No charges were filed.
Within the past two months, Warbis was sent to additional training called “Arresting Communication — Advanced Interaction Skills From Practical To Tactical,” city officials said.
Part of that training covered how “to keep cool,” City Administrator Jan Berg said earlier this month.
Warbis, 44, has been with the department since 2008, Berg said.
He was not placed on leave in connection with either incident, Berg said. Wellington also was not put on leave in connection with the 2011 case.
Both are assigned to patrol in Lake Stevens.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.