Tag Archives: Police Accountability

When We Elect Black Women Leaders

by Melia LaCour


It took several attempts before I could finally write this article. What do the 2020 election victories for Black women Democrats mean to me as a Black, mixed-race woman? Each time, I erupted in explosive grief. A complex grief that holds a thousand stories.

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OPA, OIG Heads Seem to Acknowledge SPD, City Out of Compliance With Consent Decree in Letter to Fed Oversight Officials

by Carolyn Bick


Though they do not say it outright, both Inspector General Lisa Judge and Office of Police Accountability Director Andrew Myerberg have written a letter to federal oversight officials and Seattle’s Chief of Police that appears to acknowledge that the police department and the City may be out of compliance with the Consent Decree.

The Oct. 15 letter to United States Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, Federal Monitor Anthony Oftelie, and Seattle Police Department (SPD) Chief Adrian Diaz contains two recommendations for policy revision and follows about a month after the Emerald published a story in mid-September that outlined how the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the City might currently be out of compliance with the Consent Decree.

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Hospitalized Demonstrator Now Awake, But Says SPD Withholding Insulin Delivery System

by Carolyn Bick


Kel Murphy-Duford — the 30-year-old man who had been unconscious and on a ventilator at Harborview Medical Center, following his arrest on the evening of Nov. 4 — now appears to be awake and is recuperating. He has since been discharged from the hospital, according to Harborview’s media department.

Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers originally arrested Murphy-Duford on the evening of Nov. 4, claiming he was engaging in property damage. During his arrest, Murphy-Duford apparently suffered a medical emergency that rendered him unconscious, but it is unclear what triggered the emergency. Emergency personnel allegedly said that the man had a seizure. He was subsequently taken to Harborview, where he remained unconscious on a ventilator for several days.

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Person With No Reported History of Seizures Said to Be on Ventilator, Following Alleged Seizure Upon Arrest

by Carolyn Bick


A young man is on a ventilator at Harborview Medical Center, following his arrest for alleged property damage outside the East Precinct, during a protest in support of voting rights and against systemic racism in Capitol Hill on Nov. 4, 2020. The Emerald briefly touched on the incident in a story published yesterday, but misidentified the person as woman, based on the immediately available information.

The young man has since been identified as 30-year-old Kel Murphy-Duford, according to a Converge Media interview shared in full with the Emerald. In this same interview, Murphy-Duford’s lawyers said that multiple protestors who don’t know each other told them they saw officers “tackle and throw” Murphy-Duford to the ground, and that at least five officers “jumped” on top of Murphy-Duford, as he was lying unconscious on the ground. Bodyworn video released by the Seattle Police Department appears to show Murphy-Duford unresponsive, after the officers arrest him.

Emergency personnel told Murphy-Duford’s husband that he had a seizure and was suffering from “low oxygen” — but Murphy-Duford does not have a history of seizures, said a source who knows the man. It is also unclear whether or not Murphy-Duford was responsive the entire time officers were arresting him.

SPD later revised their SPD Blotter entry about the arrest to claim that Murphy-Duford’s alleged seizure was “potentially related to a substance the subject had ingested prior to police contact,” but his lawyers told the Emerald in an email that “[n]o one has released ANY medical information to [the Force Investigation Team (FIT)] or SPD. Doctors have not indicated at any point that there is any ‘substance’ responsible for our client’s condition.”

Continue reading Person With No Reported History of Seizures Said to Be on Ventilator, Following Alleged Seizure Upon Arrest

If the Officer Had Punched Twice, He Would Likely Have Been Within Policy: OPA Releases New Complaint Findings

by Carolyn Bick


Had the Seattle Police Department officer only punched the demonstrator twice, and for a slightly shorter period of time, the Office of Police Accountability said it may not have found that the officer violated policy when he and another officer — both of whom appear to have been wearing helmets — punched a demonstrator in the course of arresting him on the night of May 29.

This finding was included in one of the case closed summaries into five demonstration-related complaints against Seattle officers released on Oct. 23. In these findings, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) did not sustain allegations in three complaints and only partially sustained allegations in two complaints against Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers. 

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No Records Exist of the Review Board Interviews Conducted With the Deputies Involved in Tommy Le’s Shooting

by Carolyn Bick


When they read the report by OIR Group 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.”

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KCSO Undersheriff to Recommend Detective Who Posted “All Lives Splatter” Be Fired

by Carolyn Bick


King County Undersheriff Patti Cole-Tindall will be recommending to Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht that King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Mike Brown be fired, according to an internal email shared with the Emerald.

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Tommy Le May Have Been Shot While Facedown on Roadway, May Not Have Even Had a Pen, Documents Show

by Carolyn Bick

Editor’s Note: This article contains details about a homicide case, including images of evidence and crime scene reconstruction, that readers may find disturbing and/or triggering.


In the weeks following 20-year-old Tommy Le’s death at the hands of King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cesar Molina, Xuyen Le still refused to believe her nephew would have attacked the police with anything, much less a knife. She told then-Sheriff John Urquhart as much at a meeting of the Asian Pacific Directors Coalition, which she later described in the process of court proceedings.

“I then told the Sheriff it was our firm belief that, ‘Tommy would never attack the police and certainly not with a knife.’ I politely asked Sheriff Urquhart the most important question to our family and community, ‘Why did the officers shoot Tommy if he was not attacking the officers with a knife – a weapon?’” Xuyen Le’s declaration reads.

Continue reading Tommy Le May Have Been Shot While Facedown on Roadway, May Not Have Even Had a Pen, Documents Show

Durkan Releases Executive Order Outlining Methods To Begin Transitioning Areas of SPD to Civilian, Community Response

by Carolyn Bick


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has released an Executive Order meant to “create an accountable and transparent timeline to evaluate Seattle Police Department (SPD) functions and identify areas of SPD response that can be transitioned to civilian and community-based responses,” according to a press release from her office on Oct. 1. According to the order, the first public deliverable — a work plan and community engagement timeline — will be available in October, while the last one — a final analysis report that examines several factors, including current SPD practices and functions, as well as community input on community policing — will be available in March 2021.

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OPA Releases Findings for Six Demonstration-Related Cases: Does Not Sustain Allegations for Four and Sustains Some Allegations for Two

by Carolyn Bick


In findings for six demonstration-related cases released today, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) has determined that some allegations were sustained in just two of those cases against Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers. One of the cases in which allegations were not sustained was the case against an officer who allegedly pepper sprayed a young boy, because, according to the OPA’s findings, “the boy was not individually targeted.” It sustained two out of three allegations against an officer for placing his knee on a demonstrator’s neck and making unprofessional statements.

The summaries include findings for the officer who allegedly pepper sprayed a child; the officer who put his knee on a protestor’s neck and made unprofessional statements, and a fellow officer who allegedly made unprofessional statements; the allegation that an officer pushed over an elderly man in a show of excessive force; for the officer who was allegedly quoting the movie “Top Gun” when he was overheard saying that he has “a hard on for this shit, and, if they cross the line, I will hit them”; for officers who allegedly used excessive force against protestors and allegedly violated policy by not turning on their body worn cameras; and for an officer who allegedly made unprofessional comments over police radio.

Continue reading OPA Releases Findings for Six Demonstration-Related Cases: Does Not Sustain Allegations for Four and Sustains Some Allegations for Two