by Carolyn Bick
This is the fourth article in a series of articles examining the pushback and internal pressure former Office of Law Enforcement (OLEO) director Deborah Jacobs appears to have faced during her tenure at OLEO. This pushback appears to have mainly stemmed from within the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the very law enforcement entity OLEO is tasked with overseeing, as well as the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), some of whose members belong to the KCSO. Multiple sources have alleged that certain members of the KCSO and the KCPOG mounted an internal campaign against Jacobs and said that the main goal of the campaign was Jacobs’ ouster. The King County Council decided not to renew Jacobs’ contract, after an independent investigation found that Jacobs had violated King County discrimination codes. Jacobs has since filed a tort claim against King County. You can read part one of this series here, part two of this series here, and part three of this series here.
Deborah Jacobs officially lost her job as King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight director on the first day of September, 2020. That was the day the King County Council voted — narrowly, in a five-to-four vote — not to renew her contract. She spent one of the last days on the job presenting the independent investigative report her office commissioned into Tommy Le’s 2017 shooting death at the hands of a King County Sheriff’s officer.
And then, she was out.
Jacobs does not appear to have been entirely blameless in the loss of her job. As noted repeatedly throughout this series, the King County Council decided not to renew her contract because an independent investigation the Council commissioned found that she made discriminatory and inappropriate comments towards employees about other Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) employees or others outside OLEO.
The Emerald was unable to interview current OLEO employees or King County Councilmembers (KCC) about the issue due to a tort claim Jacobs filed against the County. The Emerald also requested comment from a past OLEO employee who declined to provide one. Thus, this article is based upon the final investigative report the KCC’s Employment and Administration Committee referred to in their Aug. 18, 2020, vote not to renew Jacobs’ contract. It’s worth pointing out that the Council’s Employment and Administration Committee is made up of all nine councilmembers. Notably, when it came time for the final full-Council vote in September, one councilmember — Joe McDermott — changed his vote in favor of keeping Jacobs on as OLEO director, despite having voted not to renew her contract in the Employment and Administration Committee vote. McDermott did not offer an explanation for the change of heart.
Publicly, Jacobs’ downfall was a rapid one.
Continue reading A Director’s Downfall: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County
by Carolyn Bick
When they read the OIR Group report commissioned by King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight that looked into how the King County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation into Tommy Le’s death, the Le family was surprised to read how much appeared to be working in favor of the sheriff’s department and the involved deputies, Tommy Le’s aunt Uyen Le said.
“When we received the report and the findings, it’s very obvious to us — I feel like it’s common sense that a lot of these things should be in place … but they obviously were not. And it just didn’t create a fair and just situation for Tommy. I think everything seemed to be working more in the favor of the sheriff’s department,” Uyen Le told the Emerald in an interview, referencing the report’s recommendations based on its findings.
The findings — compiled into a comprehensive, 42-page-long report that was released in early September — appeared to have a similar effect on at least one King County lawmaker, when report authors Michael Gennaco and Stephen Connolly presented it at the Sept. 2 meeting of the King County Council’s Law and Justice Committee. Upon learning of the findings, Committee Chair and District 2 Councilmember Girmay Zahilay — himself an attorney — said the way in which the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) handled the investigation into Tommy Le’s shooting would appear to be “a clear obstruction of justice.”
Continue reading No Records Exist of the Review Board Interviews Conducted With the Deputies Involved in Tommy Le’s Shooting
by Carolyn Bick
Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County (BLMSKC) has submitted a formal request to Seattle’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to “immediately, transparently, and aggressively” investigate the Seattle Police Department (SPD) over questions that the department “at worst” possibly engaged in “unlawful practices” and “at best” failed “to uphold governing officer conduct policies” over the past three months. The letter links the questions it raises to concerns regarding possible alleged coordination with the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) and the Mayor’s Office.
Continue reading BREAKING: BLMSKC Calls on OIG To Investigate SPD Over Questions of Possible Unlawful Behavior, Coordination with OPA and Mayor’s Office
by Carolyn Bick
Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County (BLMSKC) has filed for a Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) investigation into the Seattle City Council (SCC), according to a press release and letters received by the Emerald.
In a letter released on the morning of Sept. 14, BLMSKC called on the SEEC to “immediately, transparently, and aggressively investigate” the SCC for 12 different counts of what the press release containing the letter calls “potential incidents” involving both the entire SCC or specifically named members. The letter specifically states that it “makes no accusations” but that the issues outlined within the letter “are gravely concerning to Black Lives Matter Seattle King County.”
Continue reading BLMSKC Files For Seattle Ethics and Elections Investigation Into Seattle City Council