Wendell Nicholson got a diversion after he leaked confidential police files to a Walmart security guard when he was a captain with the Wichita Police Department.
Nicholson, a 29-year-old veteran who retired a day before he was charged with eight computer crimes in March, signed the embezzlement agreement on May 23, court records show.
Nicholson admitted he was guilty of all charges, and the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the case as long as he stays out of trouble for one year and meets the terms of the diversion agreement.
These requirements include reporting to the diversion office by mail or in person once a month; maintain a functional telephone number with voice mail; attend school or work full time, unless exempt; not violate the law; notify the diversion office whenever they come into contact with a law enforcement official; and receive permission before leaving the state of Kansas.
The court order instructs Nicholson that he is receiving diversion “after investigation of the offenses and your background, and considering the factors contained (in state diversion law) . . the interests of justice will be served” in granting diversion.
Nicholson, 52, had no previous convictions. District Attorney Marc Bennett previously told The Eagle that the leaks did not compromise any criminal investigation.
Nicholson must pay $160 to the district attorney’s office, $195 in court costs and $33 in jail processing fees. Nicholson was not arrested and instead appeared in court on a subpoena. But he had to go through a booking process last month, where he provided information to Sedgwick County Jail without having to spend time in a cell.
His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
The leaked recordings included body camera video of a police shooting, details of an internal investigation into text messages sent by SWAT team members and gang roster information. Other files included DEA bulletins, reviews of shootings, identities of victims and suspects, information on gang feuds and murder suspects, and an image of homicide victims.
These records are usually withheld by the city or prohibited from disclosure by state law.
The city refuses to disclose who is on its secret gang list. Even people on the list are not allowed to know that they are on it. City is being sued in federal court over allegations that the roughly 3,000-member roster is frequently abusive and unfairly and arbitrarily targets African-American and Hispanic residents for increased police scrutiny, higher bail and tougher sentences .
Nicholson was a captain who oversaw the traffic division and the Patrol South police station. He also served as the department’s liaison to the Wichita Citizens Review Board, a civilian oversight group that reviews officer disciplinary decisions and Office of Professional Standards investigations, from summer 2020 to April 2022.
Nicholson — the highest-ranking black man in the Wichita Police Department when he retired — handled the CRB’s review of the department’s mishandling of discipline for officers who texted racists, sexists and homophobes, some of whom celebrated police brutality. The board released a scathing report on the department’s handling of the case, and the city responded by disciplining some of the officers and hiring Jensen Hughes to investigate the culture within the department.
Two weeks after an Eagle investigation uncovered the troubling text messages and subsequent failure to discipline the SWAT team members involved, acting chief Lem Moore removed Nicholson from his role.
Nicholson is one of ten defendants being sued by Deputy Chief Jose Salcido and former Deputy Chiefs Chet Pinkston and Wanda Givens, who made up former Chief Gordon Ramsay’s management team.
The deputy chiefs claimed in a late February filing in federal court that “Nicholson allegedly disclosed confidential criminal case information in violation of law and city policy” and participated in a conspiracy to discredit and to remove deputy chiefs from their posts. . Givens and Pinkston left the department voluntarily, and Salcido remains the Deputy Chief of Investigations.
Nicholson, whose legal representation in the federal lawsuit is paid for by the city, is seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed in part because he was not their supervisor and was unable to retaliate against them.