by Carolyn Bick
The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.
Content Warning: This story and the tweets linked within contain strong language and fairly graphic descriptions of violence towards protesters. Some of the tweets themselves also contain the apparent celebration of murder.
“Do you have the go fund me for #FreeDawitkelete?” a tweet from @1SteelerFanatic asks. The person behind the account posted the tweet last July in response to a GoFundMe page for Black Lives Matter protester Summer Taylor, who was alive when the GoFundMe page was created. By the time the tweet asking about a fundraiser for Dawit Kelete — the man who severely injured Taylor and another protester, Diaz Love, by hitting them both with a car last summer — had been posted, Taylor was dead. The same person behind the account would go on to use the #FreeDawitkelete hashtag in several other posts.
“Haha he even admits he was trying to be an annoying fuck by verbally harassing the cops and staff. He deserves every bit of those missing teeth. Hope he learned to STFU,” a more recent tweet from @1SteelerFanatic reads. It was in response to this story about a video the Emerald obtained that appeared to show King County correctional officers who, according to jail video, appeared to have slammed a young man’s face into a pre-booking counter at the King County Correctional Facility (KCCF) last summer.
“Naw, rest in piss bitch,” still another tweet from @1SteelerFanatic reads. This one was in response to a Portland, Oregon, mother asking black bloc members to show up for a rally in memory of her dead son. Posted on Oct. 7, 2021, it was one of the last tweets @1SteelerFanatic — using the display name “Bruce Wayne” — would make before an Oct. 8 thread surfaced alleging that the person behind the account is Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer Andrei Constantin, taking on a life of its own and eventually garnering thousands of likes and hundreds of retweets.
Less than an hour after the thread had been posted, the @1SteelerFanatic account was deactivated — but not before the account and its tweets had been archived in various ways, including in Archive Today, the Wayback Machine, and in screenshots shared on Twitter. The account is littered with tweets that mock the dead, promote extreme violence against protesters, suggest that people should arm themselves to shoot protesters, and suggest that the murder of George Floyd was “justice” (and later mock the way Floyd was murdered, as well). One tweet even claims that “fake vets” (veterans) showed up to decry police brutality and violence, while another celebrates the police shooting death of a robbery suspect.
According to this tweet from SPD, the department has sent the information shared to the City’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA). According to a cursory report from The Seattle Times, the OPA is investigating whether the officer named in the thread is behind the account and has begun a preliminary investigation.
The original thread states that the creator linked the police officer to the @1SteelerFanatic account via a phone number the person behind @1SteelerFanatic had posted using the same account under a previous handle, @LVEncoreVIP, apparently in reference to working at Encore Las Vegas (also known as Encore at Wynn Las Vegas) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
According to the thread, that phone number is registered to a person in the Seattle area with the name of the police officer the thread claims is behind the account: Andrei Constantin. The thread’s creator also shared with the Emerald a picture of Constantin and a person who appears to be his brother, which they found on a social media website and which the Emerald independently verified. Constantin was tagged in the photo as “Dre Day.” In the photo post, the account holder makes mention of the fact that he is posting the photo on National Sibling Day, in honor of his “sibling,” Constantin.
According to an Intelius report the Emerald ran using the phone number, “Dre Day” is a name of a social media account associated with Constantin (an account that, according to past tags on Constantin’s brother’s account, previously used the name “Andrei Constantin”), the phone number, the @1SteelerFanatic Twitter account, “Bruce Wayne,” and another name — “Andrei Surrend” — that appears to link up with another older, employment-related Twitter handle the Oct. 8 thread’s creator dug up. The handle, @AndreiSurrender, appears to reference employment at the Surrender Nightclub, which, according to the information listed on Facebook, operates in another Wynn property in Las Vegas.
It should also be noted that the @1SteelerFanatic Twitter account was deactivated just hours before SPD publicly tweeted about sending the matter to the OPA and less than an hour after the thread that claimed to have outed the account user’s identity was posted. Thus far, SPD has not denied that Constantin was behind that account.
The OPA has yet to make any official announcements beyond what it told The Seattle Times, but it appears as though Constantin may, at the very least, be in violation of SPD policy regarding social media.
According to an open data source cited by the thread’s original poster, Constantin was hired onto the department in April of 2016. This thread, posted by DivestSPD, highlights some of Constantin’s complaint and disciplinary history. It includes a suspension for an arrest Constantin conducted in 2020 with his body-worn video turned off — which the OPA found violated SPD policies regarding both body-worn video and professionalism — and what the OPA itself called “an unlawful Terry Stop” during a search for a stolen car in 2017.
In this latter instance, the OPA wrote that Constantin conducted the unlawful Terry Stop on a family he held at gunpoint, handcuffing one of the family members, which the OPA said in its conclusions exposed “the occupants of the vehicle, his fellow officers and the community to an unwarranted risk.” Upon review, the OPA found that Constantin had no legal basis upon which to justify the stop, since neither the rear license plate nor the color matched the plate or description of the stolen car and the person driving the car “appeared to drive in compliance with traffic laws.”
Though the OPA sustained allegations against Constantin in this instance, he received only a written reprimand.
It should also be noted that, in the 2020 arrest situation, even though the OPA wrote that it found Constantin’s behavior “even more concerning” than his fellow named officer’s, the only discipline imposed was a one-day suspension.
Shortly after the initial publication of this article, the Emerald learned that the OPA has opened an official investigation into the matter. The case number is 2021OPA-0485.
The Emerald will continue to monitor this situation and report on any significant developments.
📸 Featured Image: Screenshot of tweet from @1SteelerFanatic account.
Before you move on to the next story … The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!