The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.
Content Warning: This article contains raw, unedited video from the King County Jail in Downtown Seattle and detailed descriptions of violence and injuries.
If the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention’s (DAJD) official story about protester Eric Look’s July 25, 2020, arrest is to be believed, Look forcefully slammed his own face into a pre-booking counter at the King County Jail in Downtown Seattle, causing permanent damage to his two front teeth.
In fact, if one reviews the video of this incident, it appears — in line with the department’s version of events — that Look must briefly have defied the laws of gravity, apparently levitating for a split second before allegedly smashing his own face into the aforementioned counter.
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By the time the Washington State Patrol officers dropped her off in the parking lot of the Motel 6 in Sea-Tac on the afternoon of Jan. 18, Monsieree had been sitting in the patrol car for at least two hours, hands shackled behind her body, as the officers drove her up and down I-5, fruitlessly trying to find a jail within King County limits that would accept her despite current COVID-19 booking protocols. Monsieree and at least 11 others had been arrested a few hours earlier, just under the Yesler Overpass on I-5 near downtown Seattle. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the group had been carrying out a peaceful protest action centered around painting a Black Lives Matter mural and the names of Black people who lost their lives in police encounters on both the roadway itself and the wall beneath the overpass respectively. This action also briefly shut down the highway.
Since March 2020, the King County Jail in downtown Seattle has instituted certain COVID-19 protocols in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. One of these protocols stipulates that the jail will not book people arrested on nonviolent misdemeanor charges.
King County will be committing $7 million to ramp up vaccination efforts to prevent against COVID-19, with two high-volume vaccination sites slated for South King County in the near future, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced in a public health briefing on Jan. 8.
King County Jail’s downtown Seattle location has confirmed 16 new cases of COVID-19, according to a press release sent to reporters on the afternoon of Dec. 7.
The press release said that an inmate at the jail “reported flu-like symptoms” on Dec. 6. This person had been at the jail for more than a month, and initially tested negative, when they were first jailed, the press release said.
This means that this person caught the novel coronavirus and developed COVID-19, while they were in jail.
Seven days after Aisling Cooney filed a public records request with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to get her own arrest records and associated materials from her arrest at the Capitol Hill protest on July 25, the records department succinctly informed her in an email that these records wouldn’t be available to her until late February 2021.
Cooney isn’t alone. At the advice of lawyers with Smith Law, at least four others who have also filed for their arrest records — as well as associated documents, recordings, and more — as part of several civil lawsuits they hope to bring against SPD have received similar messages: the SPD’s Legal Unit is “operating under an extreme backlog of requests, staffing shortages, the redeployment of supporting units to SPD’s frontline COVID-19 response, and, pursuant to CDC recommendations and City direction, reassignment to remote access.”
Face-down in the gravel, hands cuffed behind her back, Ash could hear herself screaming. She had just been arrested by a group of Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers, who had come speeding across the grass towards a group of protestors at Cal Anderson Park during a Black Lives Matter protest on July 25.