Tenino investigating officer with troubled history


The City of Tenino is investigating an officer it hired last year after a KING5 investigation revealed that he was once fired for repeatedly using excessive force on suspects.

Mayor Wayne Fournier said at yesterday’s council meeting that the city has hired a Seattle-based law firm to investigate Officer Christopher Backus.

Backus has been removed from patrol and placed on modified assignment pending the completion of the investigation.

“We have to find out the facts,” Fournier said. “We have to get to the bottom of things. We have to look at our processes. We have to look at what the previous employer did and didn't do and we have to make a decision based on facts, not on news reports.”

“After that's all done, we'll make a decision and we'll be very transparent,” the mayor added.

What the report found

According to an investigative report by KING5 that cited city and police records, Backus was fired from the Tukwila Police Department in 2017 after multiple incidents led authorities there to conclude that he had a “pattern” of using excessive force.

The report said police records showed that Backus tackled and assaulted in 2015 a teenager whom Tukwila investigators later determined was the wrong suspect; in 2016, he tasered a man who was not aggressive or resisting arrest, shoved a teenager headfirst into a cement planter, and tased a drunk homeless man who made no threats or attempts to assault him.

Tukwila investigators also found that Backus falsified his police report on the 2015 incident involving the teenager, whose charges were later dismissed, according to the article.

The report said Backus was fired in 2017. However, King5 said it obtained a copy of an August 2018 settlement agreement revealing that the City of Tukwila agreed to revoke his termination, reverse all findings from internal probes, and eliminate disciplinary records from his personnel file.

The report also said that the city paid Backus $75,000 in exchange for his promise of resignation and silence under a confidentiality clause.

Tenino responds

Fournier said Backus was subjected to a full background check by a third party before he was employed by the City of Tenino. The investigation included a criminal history check, psychiatric evaluation, and a polygraph examination to determine Backus’ truthfulness throughout the hiring process.

“Currently and at the time of Officer Backus's hire, he was and is in good standing with the Criminal Justice Training Commission,” Fournier said.

The mayor said a third-party investigation into Backus was launched after the King5 report was published.

“I need to allow all of the relevant information to be gathered and evaluated. I don't want to guess or speculate,” Fournier said.


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  • Kruz81

    If even half of these reports are true he should be gone, and the state should take his credentials so he cannot move elsewhere or out of state. Sad, that Tenino cannot even perform the proper due diligence when hiring. Ya, small town, budget etc..Well be there do that stop making excuses and make it happen. It's not hard to get a release, get personnel records, and talk to others he worked with.

    Thursday, March 2, 2023 Report this

  • AaronG

    If even one of these allegations are true they're not only should he not be working there but he should be charged really like everyone else in the world would be for what constitutes assault. So bring us to question why was he never charged?

    And why did the City of Tukwila pay him $75,000.... then erase his disciplinary record and make him sign a non-disclosure agreement? Something smells fishy. What are they trying to cover up?

    Friday, March 3, 2023 Report this

  • Margied35

    My girl friend was pulled over by him an accused her of not wearing her seat belt she said he was very angry and acting terrible to her she said he scared her terribly we din't need cops like that

    Monday, March 6, 2023 Report this