Tag Archives: OPA

Despite Roles, CPC, Federal Monitor Not Kept Abreast of OIG Ethics Complaint Developments

by Carolyn Bick

The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.


Despite the serious allegations contained within — including clear allegations of conflicts of interest — Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) has decided not to investigate the ethics complaint against the Office of Inspector General (OIG) filed in August of this year. And based on responses to community members at the Oct. 12 Community Police Commission (CPC) meeting, as well as an email the Emerald received the following day, neither the CPC nor the fairly new federal monitor, Dr. Antonio Oftelie, had been informed of this decision as of the Oct. 12 meeting — despite both the CPC’s and federal monitor’s oversight roles in the almost decade-old Consent Decree.

In addition to confirming that he had not heard about the SEEC’s decision until Oct. 13, Oftelie told the Emerald in an Oct. 13 email response that, even though he had not “researched” the complaint’s associated evidence (and it is unclear whether he has read the complaint itself), he felt the complaint was without merit. He said he based this opinion on “accounts relayed to me.” This would appear to undermine the messages of assurance he gave community members at the Oct. 12 CPC meeting. 

Continue reading Despite Roles, CPC, Federal Monitor Not Kept Abreast of OIG Ethics Complaint Developments

Officer Allegedly Behind Abusive Tweets Has History of Discipline for Problematic Behavior

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.

Continue reading Officer Allegedly Behind Abusive Tweets Has History of Discipline for Problematic Behavior

Open Letter to PHX Alleges OPA Dir. ‘Dangerous,’ Urges City to Reject Him

by Carolyn Bick


The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.

At least two private citizens who cite professional experience working with current Office of Police Accountability (OPA) Dir. Andrew Myerberg have signed an open letter addressed to the people of Phoenix, Arizona, urging them to “carefully consider his candidacy and whether to allow him access to your community.” Myerberg is one of the City of Phoenix’s candidates for its recently established Office of Police Accountability and Transparency.

“We believe he is dangerous, and predict that, if hired, he will harm your people,” the letter alleges.

Continue reading Open Letter to PHX Alleges OPA Dir. ‘Dangerous,’ Urges City to Reject Him

OPA Decision Answers Some Questions About East Precinct Evacuation, Raises Others

by Carolyn Bick

The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.


The City’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) has determined that neither former Police Chief Carmen Best nor Assistant Chief Thomas Mahaffey of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) is at fault for SPD’s decision to leave the East Precinct in Capitol Hill last June. The decision and its root cause have been the topic of significant public discussion and speculation, particularly since the East Precinct was a major focal point in the George Floyd protests last year.

Following more than a week of escalating tensions and violence between police officers and protesters, on June 8, 2020, someone within SPD made the decision for the department’s officers to leave the East Precinct. This contentious decision came on the heels of SPD refusing to allow protesters to walk past the precinct, even erecting a barrier around the precinct to protect it against perceived threats from protesters. The decision to remove personnel — allegedly made by a small group of officers led by Assistant Chief Thomas Mahaffey, according to KUOW — was allegedly not shared with then-Police-Chief Carmen Best. Just before officers left the building, Mahaffey told officers in a June 2020 email obtained by Crosscut that he wanted to “address a rumor” about SPD plans to abandon the building and that “[i]t is the strong position of both Chief [Carmen] Best and myself that we will not abandon one of our facilities to those who are intent on damaging or destroying it.” According to KUOW, Mahaffey and this small group of officers at some point determined that remaining inside the precinct wasn’t safe.

While the basis for that decision has been widely speculated upon for the last year, the OPA today released a Closed Case Summary (CCS) that appears to shed some light on the matter. An investigative OPA interview with Mahaffey and an email the OPA obtained and used as evidence also raises the possibility that Best knew exactly what Mahaffey had decided to do, contrary to what she has claimed to both police officers and the public in the 16 months that have passed. However, this very same investigative interview appears to show that Mahaffey was not entirely forthcoming in his first interview with the OPA — an issue the OPA does not discuss or touch upon, despite explicitly saying in the CCS that SPD employees may face termination if their statements to OPA investigators are not “truthful and complete” or if they are “withholding or misrepresenting information.”

Continue reading OPA Decision Answers Some Questions About East Precinct Evacuation, Raises Others

Glaring Discrepancies in OPA Report on Labor Day 2020 Protest

by Carolyn Bick

The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.

This article is part three of a multi-part series concerning the protests that took place in Seattle in late 2020. It describes the apparent inaccuracies in the Office of Police Accountability’s (OPA) official report of the events as documented in the police oversight entity’s Director’s Certification Memo, which appears to have been signed off on as final by the OPA director. It also connects the dots between the certification memo and the recent ethics complaint filed by a former Office of Inspector General auditor, as reported here. Find the first article in this series here


In late June, the Emerald published a story about an Office of Inspector General auditor’s memo detailing concerns with the way the OPA investigators handled a case about last year’s Labor Day protest at the Seattle Police Officers Guild headquarters. That protest has been a topic of contention throughout Seattle for a number of reasons, including the amount of force the Seattle Police Department used against protesters and whether officers were actually responding to a credible threat in the crowd, as they claim.

OPA Director Andrew Myerberg told the Emerald in a June 28 email that he was planning on finalizing the Director’s Certification Memo and releasing the Case Closed Summary related to complaints filed in the wake of the incident the following week. 

As of this writing, not only has the OPA still not released the Case Closed Summary — more than a year after the protest — but the Emerald has learned through an email it obtained, as well as the Director’s Certification Memo (DCM) itself, that the DCM appears to have been finalized in early April. Myerberg told the Emerald in a Sept. 20 email that the DCM will be amended — an issue the Emerald addresses at the end of this story — but did not deny that it had been finalized in April, despite saying in June that “I was planning on finalizing the DCM that week [the week of July 5].”

Continue reading Glaring Discrepancies in OPA Report on Labor Day 2020 Protest

Seattle’s Newest Department Aims to Change the City’s Response to Crisis Calls

by Paul Kiefer


(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)

The last time the City of Seattle launched a new department — Seattle Information Technology, which brought IT staff from across the city under one roof — the consolidation took years. “In contrast, we had about eight months,” said Chris Lombard, who leads the City’s newest department: the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC), which began work at the beginning of June.

In some ways, creating the CSCC involved fewer moving parts than the infamously messy set-up of the massive citywide IT department. When plans to move the parking enforcement unit to the CSCC fell through this spring, Lombard was left overseeing a single, crucial service: Seattle’s 911 call center. The center, historically a civilian unit inside the Seattle Police Department, will play a key role in the City’s efforts to shift away from a police-centric approach to public safety, and the City’s decision to house the 911 call center in the new department was one of the first concrete steps in that effort.

Continue reading Seattle’s Newest Department Aims to Change the City’s Response to Crisis Calls

OIG Auditor Resigns, Claims OIG Puts OPA ‘Allegiances’ Over Police Accountability

by Carolyn Bick

The Emerald’s Watchdragon reporting seeks to increase accountability within our city’s institutions through in-depth investigative journalism.


Author’s Note: The Emerald has redacted the name of the former auditor at the heart of this story, as well as all email addresses, a suspect’s face, and an email included in the ethics complaint (due to concerns about job security in the latter case).

A senior-level Office of Inspector General (OIG) auditor has resigned from their position as investigations supervisor over their concerns that Inspector General Lisa Judge and Deputy Inspector General Amy Tsai have quashed any pushback against the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) — among other duties, the office the OIG is supposed to audit and oversee as part of Seattle’s police accountability system — rendering the OIG’s staff little more than rubber stampers for OPA investigations. The former auditor alleges in a formal ethics complaint to the City that this systematic pushback is based in part on a personal relationship between Deputy IG Amy Tsai and the OPA director and is focused on “appeasing the OPA.”

Continue reading OIG Auditor Resigns, Claims OIG Puts OPA ‘Allegiances’ Over Police Accountability

OIG Partial Certification Memos Raise More Concerns Over OPA Investigations

by Carolyn Bick


In April of this year, the Emerald published a story about the Office of Police Accountability’s recent decision not to sustain the most serious allegations against the Seattle Police Department officer who, in August of last year, drove onto a crowded sidewalk.

In its April story, the Emerald noted a curious addition to the Case Closed Summary (CCS) of the incident, which it had not seen in previous summaries. In this particular CCS, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) stated that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had declined to certify the OPA’s investigation as objective or thorough. This meant that the OIG — which is part of Seattle’s police accountability structure, conducting Seattle Police Department (SPD) and OPA audits, overseeing the OPA, and working alongside SPD and others to create and update SPD’s policies and practices — had only partially certified the investigation. In its brief paragraph about this in the CCS, the OPA did not go into detail. It merely stated that the OIG’s points of objection were “didactic and immaterial” and declined to address them further.

The Emerald recently obtained the OIG’s certification memo for that case, as well as for eight other OPA investigations for incidents that occurred between April 2020 and May 2021, via a public disclosure request. The Emerald also obtained the OIG’s memo for OPA case 2020OPA-0583, which concerned the overall decision by SPD officers to confront protesters in front of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) headquarters in SoDo on Sept. 7, 2020. The Emerald published a story regarding that memo, which deemed the OPA’s investigative shortfalls so severe that they “cannot be remedied” with a new investigation.

Continue reading OIG Partial Certification Memos Raise More Concerns Over OPA Investigations

Investigation Implicates 2 Officers in Jan. 6 Riots, Tests Limits of Subpoena Power

by Paul Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.) 


In findings released on Thursday afternoon, Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability ruled that two of the six officers who attended former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 violated department policy and federal law by trespassing on the grounds of the U.S. capitol while insurgents stormed the legislative chambers inside. The officers will now face Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who will decide how to discipline the pair for their breach of policy; their supervisors have recommended that Diaz fire both officers.

Continue reading Investigation Implicates 2 Officers in Jan. 6 Riots, Tests Limits of Subpoena Power

OIG Memo Reveals Serious ‘Deficiencies’ in OPA Protest Investigation That ‘Cannot Be Remedied’

by Carolyn Bick


Author’s Note: For the purposes of clarity, the Emerald will use “(sic)” in parentheses in quoted sections of the OIG memo discussed in this article to indicate that it has been reprinted here exactly as it appears in the source material (the OIG memo). Where readers see “[sic]” styled as shown here, with square brackets, this text was used by the OIG in their memo to indicate that the text quoted in their memo appears exactly as it appears in the source material (the OPA Report of Investigation/ROI).   

On the evening of Monday, Sept. 7, 2020, hundreds of protesters marched to the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild headquarters in SoDo. The march fell just after the 100th day of protests against police brutality held in the city since late May 2020, following the murder of George Floyd.

Once the protesters arrived at the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) headquarters, it didn’t take long for police on bicycles to confront the crowd. It’s unclear exactly what prompted the police to come outside, but the situation soon erupted, with officers deploying blast balls and pepper spray and arresting several protesters. Videos about the event online, including those in this Twitter thread from Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover and this Twitter thread by Stranger Associate Editor Rich Smith, show what appears to be a peaceful scene, before Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers on bicycles come around the corner to confront protesters. Based on these videos, it does not appear that any of the protesters instigated the confrontation, though a heavily edited official SPOG video, complete with background music, claims otherwise and says that police sprang into action after allegedly seeing a protestor carrying Molotov cocktails.

Continue reading OIG Memo Reveals Serious ‘Deficiencies’ in OPA Protest Investigation That ‘Cannot Be Remedied’