EPHRATA - Fourth District Congressional candidate Gavin Seim may face charges stemming from a confrontation last month involving the absence of a gun lockbox at the Grant County Courthouse.
County Prosecutor Angus Lee confirmed his office will review the matter after receiving the police report this week from the Ephrata Police Department to determine possible charges, if any.
"At this very early stage we will not speculate on what if any charges will be filed," Lee wrote in a email to the Columbia Basin Herald. "Nor will we speculate as to when the review will be completed."
Ephrata Police Chief Mike Warren has defended officers' response at the courthouse on May 22 when Seim, who is from Ephrata, asked the switchboard operator about the location of a lockbox to store firearms. In a video released by Seim, he continues to insist the county is out of compliance with state law by not having a lockbox in the building.
Warren was unavailable for further comment Tuesday.
In the video, Seim repeatedly asks a responding security guard if he is aware of the state code requiring a weapons check or lockbox. As the conversation escalated, the security guard reportedly called police to report Seim possibly had a gun.
Three Ephrata police officers responded and video shows Seim was asked twice if he was carrying a gun before he says he was not. Having reasonable suspicion Seim may have a gun, officers patted him down to ensure he was unarmed. Seim was released following the search.
In a second video posted by Seim, during a meeting with Warren the next day, he accused officers of assaulting him, claiming officers escalated the situation by their response. He also accused officers of not having probable cause to search him for a weapon. After about seven minutes of arguing with Warren, Seim was escorted out of the building by an officer. Seim continued to refuse to leave the property and was then criminally trespassed from City Hall and the Police Station. Seim continued to record himself, calling for Warren's dismissal.
A secure lockbox was installed at the courthouse. Visitors were previously instructed to leave weapons in their vehicles or store them with the sheriff's office, which is located in a separate building. Seim said he has heard from several citizens who have complained about the courthouse not providing a lockbox.
"Twenty years of non-compliance from our county, within 11 days (since the confrontation) we now have a lockbox," Seim said Tuesday at a Rally for Liberty and Law in front of the courthouse.
About 60 people attended the rally which Seim said was focused on holding the government, both local and federal, accountable. And while Seim gave county commissioners credit for resolving the issue by installing a lockbox, Seim continued to criticize Ephrata police, calling the department "lawless" and violating the liberty and respect of the citizens.
"We started a good conversation last week when I came in here and asked for a lockbox," Seim added. "It seems that asking questions of your government isn't always appreciated these days."