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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Battle Ground police officer died on duty after using meth and fentanyl, say investigators

By , Columbian staff reporter

A Battle Ground police sergeant who died on duty in August was killed by an accidental overdose of fentanyl and methamphetamine, the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Thursday.

Sgt. Richard Kelly, 54, was found unconscious in his police department office. He was pronounced dead at a hospital, according to a department news release.

The agency said Chief Mike Fort immediately requested the Vancouver Police Department conduct an independent investigation into Kelly’s death.

Vancouver detectives have finished their investigation, the news release states. They determined his death was “more likely than not caused by an intentional act and not an incidental workplace exposure.”

It’s not clear where Kelly got the drugs, according to Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp. However, Battle Ground officers had seized fentanyl as evidence in a criminal case on the morning Kelly died, and a quantity of fentanyl was found on his desk.

Fort requested an independent audit of the Battle Ground agency’s property and evidence procedures, including the handling of seized drugs, the news release states. The results of that audit were not available Thursday. Fort said appropriate training and procedural changes will be implemented based on the findings of the audit, and/or any additional administrative review.

“Substance abuse is a serious problem that often goes unsuspected and undetected,” Fort said in the news release. “As a community, we need to support local efforts to assist anyone struggling with the effects of mental health and substance abuse so they may achieve recovery.”

Kelly had been with the department since 2005. He was promoted to sergeant in 2019.

“I want to thank the community and other law enforcement agencies once again for their compassionate support of the men and women of the Battle Ground Police Department as we grieved through the shock of this death,” Fort said in the news release. “Sgt. Kelly’s unexpected passing was a significant and traumatic event for his co-workers, family, and friends.”