Washington County DA decides not to charge ex-Pawhuska police chief

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan has decided not to prosecute former Pawhuska Police Chief Nick Silva.

Buchanan made the decision after an investigation of Silva was conducted at the request of Mike Fisher, district attorney for Osage County. Fisher had asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to conduct a probe of Silva and the Pawhuska Police Department earlier this year.

Pawhuska City Manager Dave Neely said Silva had been placed on suspension Jan. 16, after the city received correspondence regarding the investigation. Silva’s employment was later terminated, and Pawhuska has hired a new police chief.

Fisher said Jan. 28 that alleged activities under investigation may have occurred in Washington County rather than Osage County. Fisher told the Journal-Capital on Feb. 11 that Buchanan’s office had assumed jurisdiction over the investigation of Silva and the police department.

In a statement dated Feb. 26, which he provided Thursday, March 5, to the Journal-Capital, Buchanan explained what the investigation revealed and why he decided not to charge Silva. Buchanan said he was asked to examine alleged improper conduct by Silva toward a female confidential informant, who had pending felony charges in Osage County.

“Reports and evidence submitted to this office without question establish that the former chief began a sexual relationship with the female informant,” Buchanan said. “The relationship also included far more contact, personal chauffeuring of the informant, and helping to provide living accommodations which go well past the normal informant/law enforcement interaction.

“The sexual relationship was apparently confined to encounters in Bartlesville, which is why it was left to the Undersigned (Buchanan) to review for possible criminal prosecution.”

Buchanan said in his statement that the sexual interaction raised a question as to whether or not the crime of second-degree rape had been committed. Buchanan cited a passage from Oklahoma statutes regarding rape. The passage concerns persons who are “under the legal custody or supervision” of a public employee, such as an employee of a municipality.

“Although certainly it can be argued that the former chief was in a position to use or withhold his support for the outcome of the informant’s pending criminal cases, I can find no law to include that relationship in the legal definition of ‘supervision,’” Buchanan said in his statement. “Without that, a consensual sexual relationship between consenting adults will not constitute rape.”

Buchanan clarified that there are, nonetheless, lasting consequences that flow from the behavior documented by investigators.

“District Attorney offices are required by law to provide information known to them which may cast question on an officer’s conduct or veracity,” Buchanan said in his statement. “If an officer has such issues and is involved in future arrests, investigation, etc., then their past behavior must be disclosed in all future cases unless a court orders otherwise.”

Fisher told the Journal-Capital that he did not think it would be appropriate for him comment on Buchanan’s decision, out of respect for Buchanan’s having handled the case, and considering the fact that he (Fisher) was a potential witness in the case.

The Journal-Capital provided a copy of Buchanan’s statement to Silva and asked him about providing a statement. Silva responded with a text message defending his actions, saying he was driving the informant to work in the process of helping her to change her life and become “a productive citizen.”

Silva’s full reply, via text message, was as follows:

“Welp it states there’s no crime. Are we in the shaming business now? I don’t give a s—- about established norms because those are set by an ever changing society and mostly outdated opinions. They are also a clear failure of the system to help those in need as we see everyday narcotics taking more and more lifes in all manners. I didn’t know driving an informant to work so they can begin to reestablish themselves into society as a productive citizen was something worth shaming individuals over. We gave our word we would help as long as requirements were met to clear prior cases. In the end the individual involved in this matter has successfully changed their life and become a productive member of society, worthy of helping future individuals in need. Maybe if the justice system invested more interest and loyalty into ppl putting the lifes at risk to hand over large dealers there would be less relapses and more success stories because there would be less fear and more support. Ppl truly ask for help at times and we as human beings have an obligation under the eyes of god all mighty to extent a hand to our fell man who is in need. I’m glad the individual involved here reclaimed her life and her story. Strange the ‘informant’ in this case did everything asked of her, she was protected, and successfully reintroduced into society and copious drug amounts and theft rings tracked down. I’m trying to figure out why such a s—- storm was made of this? Oh yeah…. opinion.”