Grand Ronde officer accused of evidence tampering

Patrick McConnell is accused of tampering with evidence on January 23, 2016

Patrick McConnell, July 7, 2016 (Polk County Sheriff's Office)
Patrick McConnell, July 7, 2016 (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

DALLES, Ore. (KOIN) – A Grand Ronde Tribal police officer is accused tampering with public records, evidence and misleading a grand jury.

Patrick McConnell is accused of tampering with evidence on January 23, 2016 when he “unlawfully and knowingly” concealed a syringe that was considered physical evidence in a drug case.

Prosecutors allege that in the days immediately after tampering with evidence, McConnell made a “false entry in a public record, regarding evidence found.”

The report was entered into the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department’s database, records show.

The case was submitted to the Polk County District Attorney’s Office.

A grand jury convened and McConnell was the only law enforcement officer to testify, records show.

As a result of his testimony, the grand jury charged Lydell Lance Suppah with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine and giving false information to a peace officer.

Suppah eventually took a plea deal with prosecutors and the second charge he faced was dismissed.

In March 2016, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Jennifer K. Gardiner filed a motion to request a copy of the grand jury’s notes in the Suppah case.

In her affidavit, Gardiner wrote, “I am currently involved in an investigation that the Marion County District Attorney’s Office is conducting on behalf of the Polk County District Attorney’s Office.”

She goes on to state in court documents that the probe sought to discover if “false statements were made under oath.”

According to the court documents filed against McConnell, he “unlawfully and knowingly” made a false sworn statement regarding the evidence and that he knew the statement was false.

On Wednesday, Gardiner declined to comment on specific details of the case.

The deputy district attorney handling the Suppah case referred questions about the case to Polk County District Attorney Aaron D. Felton. He has not responded.

Records show that in January 2016, McConnell issued Suppah a traffic citation for failure to obey a traffic control device and driving while suspended.

The Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department referred all calls about McConnell to Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Martin. In a statement, she said:

“On February 20, 2016, the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department received a report alleging misconduct by tribal police officer, Patrick McConnell. Officer McConnell was immediately placed on administrative leave pending investigation of the allegations. An independent investigation of the allegations was conducted by the Oregon State Police with the Tribal Police Department’s consent and full cooperation. Officer McConnell resigned his employment with the Tribe on March 2, 2016. The Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department is committed to ensuring the public safety of the community and the fair and equitable enforcement of the law.”

McConnell’s work history

In his career, McConnell has worked as a police officer or deputy in Oregon City, West Linn, Oakridge, Polk County and the Grand Ronde Tribal PD.

According to state records, McConnell resigned from the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department in March 2016.

In April 2013, he resigned Polk County Sheriff’s Office where he was a deputy sheriff for 3 years.

McConnell resigned from the Oakridge Police Department in 2012 after 75 days with the department.

The West Linn Police Department terminated McConnell under its “probationary discharge” employment option in April 2009.

McConnell was first hired by the Oregon City Police Department in September 2006 and resigned just over a year into his service.

Kristen L. Hibberds, Professional Standards Coordinator and Investigator for the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training said the agency does have an open “professional standards case” related to McConnell’s former employment with the police department and his pending criminal matter.

DPSST director Eriks Gabliks said in an email, “We obviously take matters such as this seriously and will follow the case as it moves through the system.”

McConnell appeared in court on Thursday to make his first court appearance. His trial date is set for Aug. 30. HIs lawyer declined comment.

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