Thurston County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Tenino Mayor Wayne Fournier with fourth-degree assault, a gross misdemeanor, after he was accused of hitting a woman inside a bar during a confrontation.
An arraignment hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 11 in Thurston County District Court. Meanwhile, Fournier’s attorney Justin Kover said he and his client “categorically deny the accusations against him.”
According to Lt. Ray Brady with the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office, in the early morning hours of July 28, Fournier, 39, and some friends were having drinks at the Eagles Club in Tenino. At some point, Brady said, they had their drinks taken away from them after they started “causing some issues,” such as standing at the end of the bar and not letting staff through.
An employee at the Eagles Club reported that Fournier hit her in the chest as she walked by. The same employee said she picked up a phone and advised them that they needed to leave before Fournier struck the phone out of her hand, said Brady.
The Tenino Police Department originally responded to the case, but then asked the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office to conduct the investigation, due to Fournier being the mayor of their jurisdiction.
Brady said Tuesday that the investigation had been completed. Investigators interviewed the alleged victim, witnesses and Fournier, he said.
Before the charge was filed Tuesday, Kover said he believed a video from the bar the night of the incident proved Fournier didn’t place his hands on anyone. The video — from a surveillance camera that doesn’t include audio — doesn’t seem to include evidence that an assault took place, said Kover, adding that at its worst, it only depicts a verbal dispute inside the bar, but nothing more.
He said he felt charges wouldn’t be filed, based on the video. When contacted by The Chronicle Wednesday morning after the charge had been filed, Kover said he had no further comment at the time, but confirmed his stance on the situation hadn’t changed.
Kover said Tuesday that if charges were to be filed, he looked forward to reading the full report detailing the accusations against his client; however when referring to the video, he responded “I just don’t see it.”
Fournier is running unopposed for reelection as mayor in November. Multiple calls seeking comment from a representative of the Tenino City Council were not returned by press time.