Giovonn Joseph-McDade was a 20-year-old Green River College student when Kent Police officer William Davis shot him to death after a vehicle chase in June 2017. According to his mother, Sonia Joseph, Giovonn was a humble kid with a passion for sports, especially football, who kept fit, healthy, and positive, and had three younger brothers who loved and looked up to him.
On Jan. 12, the House Public Safety Committee in Olympia heard public testimony on House Bill 1054 (HB 1054), legislation that has the potential to save lives like Giovonn’s, needlessly and tragically taken at the hands of police. HB 1054 deals with multiple police tactics that have resulted in the loss of life and injury to the people of Washington state, including a ban on vehicle pursuits. It’s a bill that deserves a vote on the House floor as soon as possible and in its strongest form.
(This article originally appeared in Publicola and has been reprinted under an agreement).
Seattle’s Community Police Commission (CPC) promoted its interim executive director, Brandy Grant, to a permanent position during a commission meeting on Wednesday morning.
Grant, who took over as interim executive director in August 2020, was one of three candidates seeking the position. The others were Eddie Aubrey, the manager of the Office of Professional Accountability in the Richmond, California police department; and Ed Harness, the executive director of Albuquerque’s Civilian Police Oversight Agency.
Even for a seasoned lawyer like Phil Talmadge, the fine the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has leveled against King County, the King County Sheriff’s Office deputy who shot Tommy Le, and — in what Talmadge says is also an unusual move — their lawyers, is a surprisingly hefty one: $56,752.60.
“The federal appellate courts, like Washington State appellate courts … are reluctant to award sanctions for a frivolous appeal. It doesn’t happen commonly,” Talmadge said. “There really [has] to be … a pretty flagrantly frivolous appeal before a court imposes the kind sanctions the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] imposed. … There has to be no legalistic basis for the appeal. And that’s essentially what the Ninth Circuit said.”
The sanctions are one of the latest legal moves in the ongoing civil rights case the Le family and their civil case lawyers have brought against the officer, then-Deputy Cesar Molina — now Deputy Sheriff Cesar Molina — and King County. Talmadge worked as the appeals lawyer with the Le family and their civil case lawyers in a motion for sanctions (a penalty); in this case, the more than $56,000 fine leveled against the defendants and their lawyers. The fine is the total amount of money the court found that the Le family has spent specifically to fight an appeal filed by Molina, King County, and their lawyers just prior to the commencement of their trial, an appeal the plaintiffs argued was a frivolous delay tactic.
Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County has alleged in a press release that agents from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation are responsible for providing “disinformation to local officials during summer protests to obscure a federal role in stoking unrest.” The organization said this information comes directly from a Washington State lawmaker.
The only thing that appears to be standing in the way of the Washington State Office of the Attorney General or the United States Department of Justice bringing criminal charges against the King County Sheriff’s Office for its handling of the 2017 shooting death of Tommy Le is a phone call from either King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg or Gov. Jay Inslee.
But it is a phone call that, as of this writing, will likely not be placed any time soon.
While the Le family attorneys also object to Inslee’s silence on the matter, this story will examine their contention that there exists a major problem within the King County Prosecutor’s Office (KCPO) — specifically, that the KCPO faces a conflict of interest in its decision to reserve the right to bring criminal charges against the deputy who shot Le — criminal charges that could negatively impact King County, the very client KCPO is defending in the ongoing federal civil rights suit regarding Le’s death.
The Office of the Mayor and Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold have announced new legislation that is meant to clarify the Office of Police Accountability’s and the Office of Inspector General’s power to subpoena those involved in or who are witness to possible officer misconduct — including officers themselves.
The proposal clarifies legislation that was previously unclear due to language in both the City’s 2017 Accountability Ordinance and the 2018 Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract that appear to counter one another.
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.
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.”
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.