Crime & Courts

Ketchikan police chief back on job after his felony assault charge is dismissed

The police chief in Ketchikan returned to the job last week after a felony assault charge against him stemming from an off-duty altercation at a local restaurant was dismissed by a Ketchikan Superior Court judge in mid-August.

Jeffrey Walls, 47, was indicted in December on six criminal charges including assault. Walls spent more than eight months on paid administrative leave as the case proceeded, and as city officials conducted an internal review.

Walls remains charged with five misdemeanors: three counts of fourth-degree assault and two of reckless endangerment. The altercation took place in front of numerous witnesses at the Salmon Falls Resort restaurant on Sept. 10.

Walls was off duty and sitting with his wife when a man they did not know twice pushed or fell into their chairs, according to court documents filed in the case. Witnesses told investigators they saw Walls pursue the man after he walked away. He then pushed him, causing his head to hit a stone wall, and put him in a chokehold.

One witness described the man as “limp and defenseless” during the hold, a prosecutor wrote. Multiple people told investigators they pulled Walls away from the man.

Walls took action to detain the man for arriving officers based on his law enforcement training, his attorney argued in court filings.

The Daily News is not identifying the man, described at the time as a 36-year-old from Washington state, because he is not facing any charges related to the incident.


The man, who was bleeding from a head wound, was initially arrested on charges of assault, harassment and being drunk on a licensed premises based on citizen’s arrest documents signed by Walls and his wife at the restaurant, according to a judge’s order dismissing Walls’ assault charge. The charges against the man were later dismissed.

In late December, Walls was indicted on a third-degree felony assault charge after prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury. Jurors chose not to indict him on a charge of second-degree assault. Walls was released on his own recognizance at an initial court appearance and was therefore not jailed and did not have to pay bail.

His attorney in June filed a motion to dismiss the felony assault charge, arguing that prosecutors misled the grand jury by incorrectly describing the use of force a law enforcement officer is permitted to use, whether on or off duty, while detaining someone.

Ketchikan Superior Court Judge Katherine Lybrand on Aug. 12 granted the motion to dismiss the felony assault charge.

Once the indicted charge was dismissed, City Manager Delilah Walsh said she asked Walls to return to work on Aug. 22. The city’s internal investigation has concluded, Walsh said. She did not immediately respond to a request for a copy of the findings.

Walsh said in a statement that she has “full confidence” in Walls.

He was hired in December 2021 with a $132,000 salary to become the police chief and previously worked at the New Orleans Police Department for 24 years, most recently as the commander of a high-profile patrol district that included the French Quarter and Central Business District.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at