by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Wednesday, May 12, interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced his decision to overturn the Office of Police Accountability’s (OPA) findings in one of the most prominent misconduct cases of last summer’s protests. The case centered on the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD’s) use of blast balls, tear gas, and pepper spray against protesters at the intersection of 11th Avenue and Pine Street on the evening of June 1, 2020, after an officer attempted to yank a pink umbrella out of a protester’s hands.
The chief’s decision to overturn the OPA’s finding of excessive force against Lieutenant John Brooks, who gave the order to use the weapons against protesters, sparked an outcry from police accountability advocates and activist groups. The Community Police Commission (CPC), one of Seattle’s trio of police oversight bodies, called Diaz’s decision “detrimental to community trust in SPD and Seattle’s entire police accountability system,” particularly because he offered no detail about how he would hold decision-makers at a “higher level of command authority” responsible in lieu of Brooks.
Continue reading Police Chief Diaz Explains Why He Hasn’t Fired Officers for Excessive Use of Force
by Guy Oron
South King County community members protested against police violence this past Saturday, April 24. Flanked by a car brigade and bike patrol, dozens of demonstrators marched in the rain along South Grady Way from Southcenter Mall in Tukwila to Renton City Hall, where they held a rally.
Continue reading Families and Community Members Call for Justice for People Killed by Police
by Chetanya Robinson
A bill that would ban law enforcement from using chokeholds and neck restraints on people, end no-knock warrants, and take military weapons out of police hands is up for a hearing in the Washington State Senate this week. Another would require police to de-escalate and use deadly force only when necessary, changing the standard currently enshrined in law.
Continue reading Ground-Breaking Police Accountability Bills Pass the House, Await Senate Consideration
by Will James
(This article is co-published with KNKX )
Days before the anniversary of Manuel Ellis’ death, about 200 people marched a mile through Tacoma, quiet except for the beating of a drum.
The “silent march” on Sunday, Feb. 28, was organized by Black religious leaders in Tacoma to commemorate Ellis, who was killed by Tacoma police on March 3, 2020.
Continue reading ‘Silent March’ in Tacoma Commemorates Manuel Ellis Ahead of Anniversary of His Death
by Carolyn Bick
An older man whom neighbors say is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder is said to be recuperating at home, after a Seattle Police Department officer pepper sprayed and then pulled him to the ground, during a protest in Capitol Hill on the evening of Nov. 27. Posts on Twitter say that the man was trying to speak to the officers about how their actions and use of a loudspeaker were triggering for him.
One of the man’s neighbors, who declined to be identified by name when the Emerald later spoke with him, caught the incident on video, and posted it online shortly after. Though the video is marked as Nov. 29, someone else made the Emerald aware that this actually happened on Nov. 27. The video, which the Emerald has included below, shows the older man interacting with a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer, who is pushing him backwards. The older man is carrying what appears to be a collapsible cane.
Continue reading Older Man Said to Be Veteran Suffering From PTSD Pepper Sprayed, Pulled to Ground by SPD Officer
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.
Continue reading If the Officer Had Punched Twice, He Would Likely Have Been Within Policy: OPA Releases New Complaint Findings
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Editor’s Note: This article covers the topics of racism and gender-based violence.
On Sunday, Oct. 18, the YWCA of Seattle, King County, and Snohomish began hosting a Week Without Violence to specifically provide resources and raise awareness around the fight to end gender-based violence that Black women and girls face.
While October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in general, the YWCA’s free programming this week specifically focuses on the unique intersection of gender-based violence — which includes domestic violence, trafficking, and sexual assault — and racism.
Continue reading YWCA Hosts ‘Week Without Violence’ to Raise Awareness Around Gender-Based Violence Against Black Women
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.
Continue reading Tommy Le May Have Been Shot While Facedown on Roadway, May Not Have Even Had a Pen, Documents Show
“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.
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
by M. Anthony Davis
The family of Breonna Taylor will receive $12 million in a settlement with the City of Louisville, and it is important to remind ourselves that this monetary win in court does not mean any significant level of justice has been served. The police who killed Taylor are still free, and even with the family being awarded $12 million, the police officers responsible for her death have not been held accountable. The police department itself has also managed to evade any significant level of accountability.
But you know who will pay the price for Taylor’s murder? The people of Louisville. The ordinary citizens like you and me. The people who go to work, pay their taxes, and somehow manage to do their jobs without murdering anyone in the process. There are a lot of words that can be used to describe situations like this, but justice is not one of them.
Continue reading OPINION: $12 Million Doesn’t Equate to Justice for Breonna Taylor