Tag Archives: Police Reform

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

Reflecting on George Floyd, One Year Later

by M. Anthony Davis


Today is the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. As we take time to reflect on the multitude of events that took place in the aftermath, it is important to remember — Floyd did not make a sacrifice. He did not choose to give his life in hopes that his death would lead to a national racial reckoning that would catapult our nation, and a large part of the world, into a summer of protest. George Floyd wanted to live. He literally pleaded for his life. He is not a martyr. He is a victim. 

In reflecting on Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, and the resulting protests and supposed U.S. “racial awakening,” it is hard for me to find a bright spot for this column. Police continue to kill citizens at the same rate they did before Floyd’s murder. In fact, since George Floyd was killed last year, 1,068 more people have been killed by police in the United States. According to data collected by the Washington Post, police have consistently shot and killed about 1,000 people per year since 2015. In 2021, we are currently on track to continue that fatal trend. And despite the nationwide movement in the wake of Floyd’s death calling to defund the police, many major municipalities, some of which vowed to defund, have failed to do so or defunded at miniscule rates.  

Continue reading Reflecting on George Floyd, One Year Later

Police Accountability Leader Asks SPD to Phase Out Routine Traffic Stops

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Citing concerns from community members and police officers about the dangers of police traffic stops, Seattle Inspector General Lisa Judge sent a letter to Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz on Tuesday asking him to start phasing out traffic stops for “civil and non-dangerous violations” — violations that, unlike DUI or reckless driving, do not endanger the public.

Continue reading Police Accountability Leader Asks SPD to Phase Out Routine Traffic Stops

‘The Beginning of The End’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

by Carolyn Bick


This is the second 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.

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.

The Night Tommy Died

Still blurry with sleep, Jacobs walked up to a crime scene cordoned off with shiny yellow police tape. It was June 14, 2017, and then-KCSO Deputy Cesar Molina had just shot 20-year-old Vietnamese American student Tommy Le twice in the back and once in the back of the hand. Le died of the wounds to his back shortly after. When Jacobs arrived on the scene, it was after midnight. By that time, Le was already dead.

Before Jacobs had even been notified of the shooting, KCSO had already set up the scene’s temporary command center. Among those present at the command center were then-Major Mitzi Johanknecht — she was the Precinct 4 commander in Burien at the time — and then-Captain Scott Somers. Former Sheriff John Urquhart arrived later at the scene but told the Emerald in a May 10, 2021, interview that he did not stay long.

Somers would later instruct the scene’s responding sergeant, then-Sgt. Ryan Abbott, to treat one of the witness deputies as an involved deputy. This meant that the witness deputy would not be compelled to give a statement the night of the shooting. The Emerald wrote about this decision and the red flags it raised in a later investigation into the events that night and into the way the KCSO handled its own internal investigation of the shooting.

“This was just a complete PR bungle,” Dan, one of the sources who spoke with the Emerald on condition of anonymity, said in an April 2, 2021, interview. “They knew that Tommy Le had a pen within seconds. And yet they withheld that information. … They did that on purpose. And away we go. [The KCSO] are running downhill with one mistake on top of another, and it just doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Continue reading ‘The Beginning of The End’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

Families and Community Members Call for Justice for People Killed by Police

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

What Became of the Legislature’s Big Plans for Police Reform?

by Paul Kiefer

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


At the beginning of the legislative session in January, police accountability appeared to be front and center on many legislators’ agendas. By the time the session ended last Sunday, April 25, lawmakers had narrowed a broad array of police reform proposals to a core list of bills that expand the State’s role in police oversight and tactics, although some efforts to address gaps in police oversight — particularly police union contracts — fell short.

The agency that will play an enforcement role in the legislature’s police reform efforts is the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), a group of civilians and law enforcement officers appointed by the governor that has the power to issue — and revoke — licenses to work as a law enforcement officer in Washington. On Sunday, the legislature sent a bill to Gov. Jay Inslee that will expand the CJTC’s authority to investigate officers for misconduct and suspend or revoke their licenses, a process known as decertification.

Continue reading What Became of the Legislature’s Big Plans for Police Reform?

The Morning Update Show — 4/26/21

The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.

We also post the Morning Update Show here on the Emerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.

Morning Update Show — Monday, April 26

Guest Host Brian Callanan | 16-year-old murdered in Rainier Beach | Police Reform Laws | New Drug Laws | Capital Gains Tax | Seattle News, Views, and Brews

Continue reading The Morning Update Show — 4/26/21

‘A Failed Leader’: Momentum Builds in Demands for Sheriff Johanknecht’s Resignation

by Carolyn Bick


At the 43:22 timestamp in a video of a nearly two-hour King County Council meeting regarding the shooting death of Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht gets up and walks out of the room, before any members of the community speak, and before Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’s mother starts to read the last poem her son wrote before police shot and killed him in 2017.

“I have to get on to the next thing,” Johanknecht says, looking at the watch on her left wrist.

Continue reading ‘A Failed Leader’: Momentum Builds in Demands for Sheriff Johanknecht’s Resignation

Tosh Sharp Announces Community-Focused Campaign for Tukwila City Council

by Chamidae Ford


Tosh Sharp, a civil service commissioner and Tukwila community leader, recently announced his campaign for Tukwila City Council seat one. He is currently unopposed. 

Sharp launched his campaign because of his desire to create change in Tukwila that he feels would benefit the residents of the increasingly diverse city. 

“Historically, I’ve been just a man of action,” Sharp said. “I know that sounds like a cliche, but the way that I am, when I see something that needs to be fixed, or it needs to be addressed, I kind of just do it.”

Continue reading Tosh Sharp Announces Community-Focused Campaign for Tukwila City Council

Le Family Settles, Says KCSO, Deputy Molina Culpable — Sheriff Email Claims Otherwise

by Carolyn Bick


Tommy Le loved to cook and garden with his grandmother and do landscaping work with his father. He was friendly with his teachers. He loved to play chess. He had a curiosity that made him seek out deeply philosophical texts — a trait so unique that his local librarians knew him by name. And on June 14, 2017, the 20-year-old Vietnamese American student was going to attend his graduation ceremony at South Seattle College, where he had graduated from the College Career Link program just the day before.

But Le never got to attend that graduation ceremony. He never got to wear his graduation outfit. Generations of his family — some of them refugees — never got to see him achieve his dream of becoming a firefighter.

Instead, King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy Cesar Molina shot the young man twice in the back and once in the back of the hand in Burien on June 13, 2017. The shots to the back killed Le.

Continue reading Le Family Settles, Says KCSO, Deputy Molina Culpable — Sheriff Email Claims Otherwise