A Pullman city councilor filed a police report alleging that Washington State University athletic director Pat Chun verbally abused and exhibited threatening behavior towards him.
Although the police called the matter a civil matter, Chun accused the investigator of having a conflict of interest, suggesting that he and the city councilor may have conspired as a means of retaliation.
City Councilor Al Sorensen contacted police about a September 29 incident involving Sorensen; Sorensen’s daughter, Jennifer; Chun and Chun’s wife, Natalie. The encounter saw Pat Chun threatening Al Sorensen in a blasphemy-laden confrontation over a video posted Sept. 17 by Jennifer Sorensen on social media.
The video, which was approximately 30 seconds long and taken from inside a moving car, showed a gathering of people in Chun’s house. About 35 people were seen gathered outside under a banquet tent, with some groups chatting at tables located throughout the space. For the most part, participants are seen talking nearby.
A voice can be heard above the video noting: “Not one of them,” which Pullman police said referred to guests not wearing masks.
Not that they had to wear masks. Outdoor events of less than 500 people, where physical distancing is possible, are exempt from the mask mandate announced by Governor Jay Inslee in September to help stem the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19. Pat Chun previously said he was vaccinated against COVID-19.
In a statement filed with the police department on Tuesday regarding the incident, Pat Chun said the event was a “work-related” reception. He believes Jennifer Sorensen “falsely accused” him and WSU of wrongdoing related to local health and safety standards. The spokesperson for review obtained a copy of the statement.
“From my perspective, I think his actions were dishonest and unethical,” he wrote. “Also, putting my family’s home on Facebook along with a false claim would appear to constitute some level of cyberbullying. “
Chun alleged that he and his wife are “another example” of Pullman residents targeted by Sorensen’s “abuse of power and misuse of local taxpayer resources for his personal and political gain”.
Sorensen was a candidate this fall for a third consecutive four-year term on Pullman City Council. He also teaches personal finance courses at WSU.
He made headlines in May 2020 for suggesting that people not be tested for COVID-19 so Whitman County can reopen sooner; To meet Governor Jay Inslee’s benchmark for reopening at the time, counties with fewer than 75,000 people had to go three weeks without any new cases.
Sorensen “permanently penetrated” the Chuns from his home and two businesses he owns, Pioneer Insurance and Flirt, a women’s clothing store, according to the police report.
Al Sorensen could not be reached for comment.
The Pullman Police Department determined that no criminal activity took place during the confrontation between the Chuns and Sorensens, classifying the incident as a civil matter.
Sorensen first contacted police on the day of the incident, which took place around 11:30 a.m. on September 29 at Pioneer Insurance on Northwest Stadium Way.
On October 19, he told the police that he wanted to make an official report in an attempt to protect himself from Pat Chun who was claiming something else. The filing came a day after the WSU fired football coach Nick Rolovich for failing to meet the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
According to Sorensen’s account described in the report, the Chuns walked into Al Sorensen’s office where they had a discussion about canceling their insurance policies with Pioneer. He said Pat Chun then changed the subject of the video.
“Al said Pat got verbally aggressive and asked Al ‘What have we done to offend you?’ ”, We read in the report.
Jennifer Sorensen claimed responsibility, telling Pat Chun that she posted the video, according to the report. She told police that she deleted the video at that time.
Pat Chun allegedly ignored this and started yelling at Al Sorensen to the point where Sorensen told police he felt threatened and verbally assaulted.
“Al said Pat then continued to use profanity and said ‘I’m going to tell everyone your position on (Black Lives Matter)’,” the report read. “Al said Pat then threatened to tell everyone not to shop at his store and what type of person he is and that he was going to ‘destroy you’.
“Al said Pat told him he was only going to ask you once to remove this video, otherwise,” the report continued.
According to the police report, a member of the WSU Police Department went to Pat Chun’s office to inform him of Al Sorensen’s wish to prevent him and his wife from entering the properties.
Pat Chun’s statement is much shorter to describe what happened on the day of the incident.
“On September 29, 2021, my wife, Natalie and I communicated to Al Sorensen directly at Sorensen Insurance that we had canceled our insurance with his agency and requested an explanation as to why he and his employee / daughter would treat clients of this way. “Chun said in her statement.” We also requested that the video from my house be removed. “
Conflict of interest?
The police investigation and the resulting report were handled by Police Detective Pullman Joshua Bray.
Pat Chun said in his statement that he contacted Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins and sent photocopies of the Facebook post – including a comment posted by Bray supporting the video and Jennifer Sorensen’s comment.
Chun said he would like Pullman police to investigate the case and assess whether Bray should face disciplinary action.
“It is with the greatest disappointment that not only would a local business owner make false accusations against a client, but both a Pullman Al Sorensen city councilor and Detective Pullman Joshua Bray potentially conspiring and wasting local resources. taxpayers to arm the complaint system as a means of retaliation, ”Chun wrote.
Bray said in the police report that he had seen the video before while off duty.
According to the photocopy of the comment Chun sent to Jenkins, Bray commented on Jennifer Sorensen’s video about two hours after the video was posted on September 17, the police chief said. Al Sorensen called Bray directly when he filed the complaint and again filed a police report a few weeks later, Jenkins said. It was after Bray took Sorensen’s statement for the police report that he informed Police Commander Pullman Jake Opgenorth. Opgenorth then informed Jenkins.
Bray never revealed to his superiors that he commented on the video. Jenkins said the first time “anyone in our department” knew about the comment was when Jenkins was briefed by Pat Chun on October 19 after WSU police told him that he and his wife had been violated of Sorensen’s properties.
Jenkins said he and Opgenorth spoke to Bray and “took steps internally to remedy the situation.” He declined to elaborate and also said he didn’t think the investigation was affected by Bray’s personal opinion.
“I think this was dealt with appropriately with the report documents,” Jenkins said. “What was not appropriate was that Detective Bray was involved in it because I think there is an appearance of conflict of interest because of a comment he made on Facebook in public, he should have withdrawn from this investigation altogether.