Tag Archives: 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

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’

Dow Constantine Runs for Reelection as County Executive Pushing COVID Recovery

by Chamidae Ford


Dow Constantine, the current King County executive, is running for reelection this year. Constantine is a Seattle native who grew up in West Seattle and attended the University of Washington. He has had a long career in politics, serving as a Washington State representative from the 34th District for two terms, a State senator for one term, and later held a seat on the King County Council for nine years. Constantine has served as the King County executive for 12 years. 

The current executive is running against Joe Nguyen, a member of the Washington State Senate who represents the 34th District, the seat once held by Constantine.. 

This election, Constantine’s main areas of focus are COVID-19 recovery and building strong, equitable communities.  

Continue reading Dow Constantine Runs for Reelection as County Executive Pushing COVID Recovery

Joe Nguyen Pushes Free Transit, Police Accountability in Run for County Executive

by M. Anthony Davis


The last time the Emerald spoke with State Sen. Joe Nguyen, we profiled him soon after he announced his candidacy for King County executive. Now that it is well-known that the incumbent, Dow Constantine, will face a significant challenge from Sen. Nguyen, we caught up with him again to dive deeper into some of the key issues facing King County.

In this interview, we cover how Sen. Nguyen plans to use minimal cuts from the law enforcement budget to fund much-needed services like free transit, his three-tier approach to addressing homelessness, his views on the youth jail and police accountability, and the significance of the King County executive choosing the county sheriff and how this position can be leveraged for culture shifts in law enforcement and building trust in the community.

Continue reading Joe Nguyen Pushes Free Transit, Police Accountability in Run for County Executive

OPINION — Say Her Name: Charleena Lyles

Four years after she was killed by police, her family still seeks answers.

by Katrina Johnson, Jesse Hagopian, and Michael Bennett


The broadest protests in U.S. history occurred last spring and summer in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. While this uprising around the country — in all 50 states, in rural and urban areas — was certainly about those widely publicized horrific murders at the hands of police, masses of people rose up around the country in large part because they had seen similar police violence in their own communities — including here in Seattle. 

Four years ago, Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old Black pregnant mother of four, was fatally shot by two white Seattle police officers.

Continue reading OPINION — Say Her Name: Charleena Lyles

OPINION: Remembering Tommy Le

by Senator Joe Nguyen


Tommy Le should be alive today. On this fourth anniversary of his death, our thoughts are with the Le family and the countless lives impacted by violence and marginalization in this country.  

Four years ago, I read a headline about a police killing in Burien, and a few hours later received a text message saying that it was Tommy Le. Tommy was a young Vietnamese man who was killed the day before his high school graduation. And if not for the reporting of Daniel Person at the Seattle Weekly, who called out that Tommy was holding a pen, not a knife, and the continued coverage by Carolyn Bick with the South Seattle Emerald — we would have only ever had law enforcement’s version of what happened that night, when someone who needed help ended up dead at the hands of a sheriff. 

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Trial of Auburn Officer Delayed, but Family of Jesse Sarey Continues Fighting

by Bunthay Cheam


Over 30 photographs of those killed by police sat on steps in the foreground of a press conference organized by the family of Jesse Sarey, a Khmer American man shot and killed by Auburn police officer Jeff Nelson in 2019. The press conference took place on the front steps of the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, Washington.

“Since 2018, there’s been 107 names added to the list that police have killed; Jeff Nelson added Jesse to that list so he needs to be held accountable,” said Kelli Saeteurn, a family member of Sarey.

Continue reading Trial of Auburn Officer Delayed, but Family of Jesse Sarey Continues Fighting

Thirty-Nine Percent: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

by Carolyn Bick


This is the fifth and final 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, part three of this series here, and part four of this series here.

Not The First

Former King County Office of Labor Relations senior labor negotiator David Topaz didn’t mince words, when, in the second article in this series, he described to the Emerald how he believed the King County Council (KCC) had never given former Office of Law Enforcement Dir. Deborah Jacobs or the office itself the support needed. But he told the Emerald in a March 22, 2021, interview that it still surprised him “to some degree,” when he learned that the KCC had decided not to renew her contract in September 2020, a decision the Emerald covered in the most recent article in this series.

“I would think, if I were somebody on the Council who wanted someone who was going to — no matter what kind of crap she got from anybody — was going to continue to push the envelope, why wouldn’t you want to keep her?” Topaz rhetorically asked. 

Topaz also continues to hold the belief that the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG) was at least partly responsible for Jacobs’ downfall, particularly given all the issues and allegations as outlined in the previous three stories in this series. 

“She doesn’t back down. You’d think that’s what [the KCC would] want in that role,” Topaz said. “But, certainly, the police guild had decided that that was not in their best interests, probably for the exact same reasons.”

KCPOG President Mike “Manny” Mansanarez has denied there was ever any bad blood between himself, personally, and Jacobs but has also admitted that Jacobs and former KCPOG President Steve Eggert had “problems” and that the Guild board saw Jacobs as an activist, rather than a neutral party. Under Eggert, the Guild also filed a grievance against Jacobs, as detailed in the first article in this series.

But while Jacobs is not the first OLEO director to face serious workplace accusations, a 2014 Crosscut article appears to confirm that she is the first to receive public punishment.

Continue reading Thirty-Nine Percent: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

PHOTO ESSAY: Black-Led Saturday Events Celebrate Culture and Demand Justice

by Ronnie Estoque and Susan Fried


Malcolm X Hip Hop Soul Rally

Africatown-Central District hosted the Malcolm X Hip Hop Soul Rally at Jimi Hendrix Park on the afternoon of Saturday, May 22, to honor the life and legacy of the late Black activist. The event was open to the public and featured live performances from local Black artists as well as vendor opportunities for Black business owners all gathered in community. Throughout the event, emcees emphasized the importance of investing in local Black businesses and celebrating local youth and their passions.

Organizations involved with putting the event together included King County Equity Now, Africatown community organizers, Black Dot, The African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, Black Action Coalition, and many others.

Angela shows a customer handmade jewelry from the Maasai people of Kenya. (Photo: Ronnie Estoque)
Continue reading PHOTO ESSAY: Black-Led Saturday Events Celebrate Culture and Demand Justice

‘You Don’t Make a Lot of Friends’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

by Carolyn Bick


This is the third 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 and part two of this series here.

Author’s Note: Several sources requested anonymity over concerns of retaliation or professional repercussions. These sources are noted as such throughout the piece. Their real names have not been used.

“Designed to Frustrate the Work of OLEO” 

When Deborah Jacobs was hired as the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s director in mid-June of 2016, “she took her job seriously,” one of the Emerald’s anonymous sources, Dan, said. But the critical eye the office cast over law enforcement at the King County Sheriff’s Office meant that Jacobs made few friends, he said.

“[OLEO] actually started going through the cases, the investigations, and then asking — as is their right — for follow-ups,” Dan said. “Like, ‘You did not do a good job on this interview. Why did you not ask these questions?’ And if there is nothing cops hate more, it’s being told they don’t know how to do their jobs.”

Dan said that this “also started to sort of change the temperature when it comes to her. Because it was happening a lot. There were a number of people [at the KCSO] that OLEO had deemed were not thorough and complete” in their investigations or processes.

“Then, you start getting into the pride issue, and ‘Who are you to know what police work is?’ And all that BS,” Dan continued. He told the Emerald that he believes that there was a way for Jacobs to have approached this work in a way that would not have “gotten a knee-jerk reaction … but it just didn’t happen. 

Continue reading ‘You Don’t Make a Lot of Friends’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County