Charges reduced for Kennewick detective accused of threatening wife and son with gun

A Kennewick detective who threatened his wife and son with a pistol is having his case moved to the county’s therapeutic court system.

That includes an agreement with prosecutors to lessen the charges against Joshua S. Riley, 42, to two counts of felony harassment. He initially was charged with second-degree assault.

Riley will enter Benton County’s Veterans Court program which will put the charges on hold while he participates in the program that can involve counseling, substance use treatment and monitoring for compliance.

If he is successful, the criminal charge could be dismissed or amended. If he doesn’t complete the program, a judge would use the police reports to determine if he is guilty of harassment.

He gives up his right to a jury trial and to call witnesses by agreeing to divert to the therapy court.

Riley is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served three tours in Iraq and an 11-year employee of the Kennewick Police Department.

He was arrested in September and has spent several weeks in mental health and alcohol use treatment, according to court records. He has been out of jail on a $25,000 bond since Sept. 27.

Special Deputy Prosecutor Rob Lehman is handling the case. He works for the Adams County Prosecutor’s Office, which took over to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest since Riley works on cases with the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office.

Lehman said the victims, investigators and prosecutors agreed on allowing Riley to move to veterans court.

Judge David Petersen told Riley at a recent hearing that veterans court is a phenomenal program and that he is giving up substantial rights for a substantial benefit.

When Riley was charged, he was ordered to stay away from his wife and five children. His attorney, Deric Orr, said the court orders will be lifted under the new agreement.

Riley continues to be on paid leave from the Kennewick Police Department while the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office conducts an investigation into whether he violated police department policies, Chief Chris Guerrero told the Tri-City Herald.

“Once (the investigation) is completed, it will be turned back over to our agency for determination of policy violations,” Guerrero said. “We hope to receive their completed investigation by mid-February.”

Riley and his wife are presently in the middle of divorce proceedings, according to court records.

Veterans court started in 2019 and took the model from the already successful drug and mental health courts and applied it to veterans. The aim is to treat the underlying issues that lead to criminal behavior and break the cycle.

The participants are required to have mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, regular drug testing, perform community service and are monitored for their compliance.

Assault investigation

Riley’s charges stem from an incident at his home on Sept. 23.

The affidavit of probable cause filed in court said Riley’s wife told investigators he suffers from alcoholism and suicidal thoughts linked to his military and law enforcement service.

His drinking that day turned into an argument.

According to his teen son, Riley was so intoxicated he could barely stand.

At one point, he tried to leave the house, but was stopped at the door by the teen, according to the affidavit. After his son went to the bedroom door to talk with his mother, Riley came in and allegedly pointed a laser-sighted gun at his wife. He also pointed the gun at his son’s head, said the documents.

His wife was able to get the gun away and hide it.

While Riley was asleep, his children left for a friend’s home where they told an adult what happened and the police were called.