The man who claims that State Rep. Brian Nieves assaulted and threatened to kill him, said he plans to file a civil lawsuit after learning Friday that the lawmaker from Franklin County will not be charged in a criminal complaint.
"I expect the civil lawsuit to be filed next week," Shawn Bell, Jefferson City, told The Missourian Friday morning.
Bell, the former campaign manager for Dick Stratman who lost to Nieves in the Republican primary election for the 26th District state Senate seat, filed a complaint with Washington police alleging that Nieves displayed a handgun and assaulted him when he went to his headquarters Aug. 4, the day after the primary election, to offer congratulations.
Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks reviewed a Washington police investigation into the allegations and on Friday said there was not sufficient evidence to issue criminal charges against Nieves.
Upon hearing of Parks' decision, Bell issued the following statement:
"I am extremely disappointed to hear that charges will not be filed. I am concerned because very serious crimes were committed in the Nieves campaign headquarters on Aug. 4, and it was my hope that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
"I am also disappointed that a neutral party, like the attorney general's office, was not brought in to proceed with the investigation since there appears to be a pretty clear conflict of interest for the Franklin County prosecutor. I plan to move forward through other legal avenues," Bell stated.
"I'm thankful for the grace of God and the extreme professionalism our law enforcement officials showed throughout this nightmare," Nieves told The Missourian after hearing of Parks' decision.
"The detectives and the prosecutor conducted a rigorous and in-depth investigation while treating my family, the witness and me very professionally. My faith in our criminal justice system has been strengthened and I'm glad to have this part of the nightmare my family endured over.
"I'm asking all the people who have been praying to continue to do so as this ordeal is not entirely finished and Shawn Bell is not our enemy," Nieves said. "This marks a completion of the first and biggest legal hurdle in this saga and we believe with the criminal charges behind us we will be in a strong position to see this nightmare through to whatever needs to happen to bring final resolution.
"I'm ready to forgive and forget things specific to Shawn. I also reserve the right to seek action against those I believe pushed and perhaps directed Shawn to make these false allegations," Nieves said.
Bell previously filed a petition in Cole County seeking an order of protection against Nieves. A hearing on that petition is scheduled Monday, Sept. 20.
During his morning radio show Friday, Nieves called the incident one of the "weirdest" things to ever happen in his life and blamed the police complaint on James Harris, a Republican political consultant and Bell's employer. Harris is formerly from Washington.
"Shawn is a victim of this. He was talked into this by James Harris," Nieves said in the broadcast. "I don't think Shawn Bell had any intent of any of this until he talked to James Harris."
Bell was quick to refute that.
"That's completely false. James is my employer and he's going to back me but none of this is his doing," Bell told The Missourian. "None of this is political. A person of his (Nieves') profile committed a very serious crime that's what this is all about."
Nieves said on the radio that the first part of the Aug. 4 meeting with Bell was "uncomfortable" and "unpleasant" but that by the second half of the meeting the two had pretty much buried the hatchet. He said that Shawn wanted to start on the road to becoming friends again. "The first half of the conversation was unpleasant the second half was very pleasant. He wanted to know how he could repair his image in politics.
"We sat down man to man and when we left things were absolutely fine. I thought we had successfully buried the hatchet," Nieves said.
Before he learned of the prosecutor's decision, Nieves told listeners Friday that "there's no way they could reasonably win this case and they know that. They know they can't win this case but they know they can disrupt the lives of the Nieves family." He claimed that the complaint already has cost him "thousands of dollars in legal fees."
Even with the allegations, Nieves said he was "blessed" by the outpouring of support from people in the area.