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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Criticism vs Harrassment

You know, I appreciate honest and constructive criticism. As a technical writer I don't take it personally when someone tells me I got a fact wrong so long as they tell me why they think so, otherwise I can't fix the problem...

But then I get these kinds of useless comments (click to get a better look):

Now, I don't know about you, but considering this comment came from the same network that the Seattle Police Department uses, I see it as blatant harrassment. Honestly, the last thing I need to hear about right now is how some police officer feels it would be justified for him to beat me down and arrest me again just because I write about police misconduct, I'm afraid of police enough already.

Do you agree that it's harrassment like I do?

Or do you think it's fine for police officers to send victims of police misconduct messages like that from government computers on government time?

Now, why does this bother me when I've read so many stories that prove that the SPD would have no problem making good on such threats, that they could and would get away with murdering me or beating and arresting me on false charges for just speaking my mind?

Because some part of me still thinks that the police are supposed to act professionally and take that obligation seriously... unfortunately they keep proving that part of me wrong.

modified 12/31/07 to shorten.

Update: I did some more digging and thanks to some people saving my site as a file to their local drives I got a couple user names and cross-referencing those with a list of city and county employees I discovered that all the hits coming from Municipality of Metro Seattle appear to be King County offices, mostly from the KCCF or Sheriff's Dept, while the City of Seattle hits can be either Seattle Police Department or other City offices.

Since both City of Seattle and Municipality of Metro Seattle networks appeared around the same time as the comment, I don't know which it came from for certain... but it seems like governmental misconduct to use goverment resource to post harrassing comments like that none the less.

Most Infamous

Received an email about a site I hadn't seen before which is working on making a very detailed documentary about one of the more well known, and perhaps most accused of misconduct, officers on the Seattle Police force.

I urge everyone to go and take a look, the author is really doing a great job at documenting all the different publicized cases, so many in fact, that makes people wonder how this officer maintains any credibility in the court and outside of it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Larson Case and Carnation Updates

I was going to just append the last post, but these updates seem to require their own post.

Larson Case Update:
There are some new details coming out about the Aaron Larson case, courtesy of the Seattle Times, with more witnesses stepping forward questioning why the officer involved continued to fire on Larson after he fell to the ground and appeared to be incapacitated.

Some nurses and a paramedic who witnessed the shooting and rushed to aid Larson but were told by the officer that he was already dead. But when they checked he was still moving and he had a pulse. This would seem to indicate that if the officer had stopped firing after Larson had fallen to the ground that he might have survived the incident.

It was also revealed that Larson had a history of mental illness for the last couple of years and that he had recently tested negative for drug use during an employment related drug screening. This seems to back my theory that Larson didn't choose his fate that night, that he was not in control of himself and that lack of control wasn't due to any drug use.

As I said, I am still reserving judgement on this one and I really hesitate to draw any conclusions until more details and witness accounts surface. It is a tragedy no matter which way you paint it.

Carnation Killings Update:
Some horrifying new details have emerged that appear to resolve the question as to whether or not the King County Sheriff's deputies that did not investigate the 911 hang-up call could have prevented some of the 6 deaths in Carnation Washington on Christmas Eve.

From the Seattle Times: (warning, contains sickeningly graphic details)

The last thing Erica Anderson did was try to protect her children.

The 32-year-old woman's husband was dead or dying, and she had been shot twice during a Christmas Eve ambush at her in-laws' rural Carnation home. Still, she managed to crawl over the back of a couch and dial 911 on a cordless phone.

But before she had a chance to speak, according to graphic court documents filed Friday, Joseph McEnroe — armed with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun — walked up and pulled the phone from her hand and popped out the batteries. McEnroe, according to the documents, "allowed [Erica] to huddle with her children before he shot [her] in the head."

"McEnroe made sure to mention that he apologized to [Erica] after she pleaded with him not to shoot her, saying '... You don't have to do this,' " according to the court papers. "McEnroe recalled how he looked at her and said, '... Yes, we do.' "

McEnroe shot 5-year-old Olivia Anderson in the head "at very close range," said Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. Then he turned to 3-year-old Nathan Anderson, the last survivor in the home.

The boy had picked up the batteries McEnroe had torn from the phone and held them up in one hand. McEnroe told detectives the child gave him "... the look of complete comprehension ... as if he understood." McEnroe then shot him in the head as well, according to the documents.

"I didn't want them to turn us in," McEnroe explained, the documents say.

Aside from showing just how inhuman these killers were when they murdered those children after they watched their parents die in front of them, this also seems to indicate that the officers would have arrived much too late to have saved any of those poor victims' lives that day. Though, there is quite a bit of back and forth going on about the exact timelines and the survivablilty times for the types of wounds that were inflicted.

While reserving judgement on this one as well, all I knwo for certain is that it was a truly horrifying crime and utterly inexcusable despite recent stories in the news trying to paint a picture of the two killers in an understandable light. I'm sorry, but the only thing to understand with these two is that they chose to allow their hardships to obliterate any humanity they might have had when they killed those 4 adults and 2 children... they deserve no more understanding than that.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Is It Misconduct?

Two horribly sad incidents that occurred this weekend have been spurring some controversy over whether there was a degree of misconduct... or neglegence, to be more precise, involved that might have made the difference between a terrible tragedy and something that might have been less tragic.

I wasn't going to bring these two cases up here, but since people are speculating as to whether there was any negligence involved in both cases I might as well bring it up here for the point of discussion.

Of course, I'm talking about the now well-known Carnation killings that occurred on Christmas Eve and the somewhat less infamous Larson case that occurred on a busy highway during Christmas Day.

Deaths in Carnation
The deaths of the six family members in Carnation Washington are very sad, especially so since there were very young children involved who were apparently murdered merely to cover up the crime. But it is now even more sad since there is a lot of speculation swirling around the 911 call that was recieved but not fully investigated. It turns out that King County Sheriff's officers responded to a 911 call from the residence where the murders took place on the night of the murders, but turned around when they encountered a locked gate at the driveway.

The King County Sheriff's Office opines that, based on preliminary investigative findings, that the officers arrived too late to have saved anyone anyway, so turning back at the gate didn't change the outcome. Of course, we could speculate that maybe some of the victims were still alive when the officers arrived at that gate, and maybe someone would have survived if they had broken in to determine the origin and nature of that 911 call... and it may well be so that we will never know for certain what the outcome might have been otherwise. In either case, it is a sad occation for that community and the surviving members of that family... so much grief on what should have been a time of togetherness is hard to fathom.

But, was it misconduct to turn back? Well, the law and court precidents state that officers are not liable in cases where no assurances of assistance are given over the phone during a 911 call, and if that held then this case would be no different since the call was hung up without a caller saying anything... But, in either case, I'm certain that the uncertainty of whether or not such young lives might have been saved will plague the minds of the officers involved and the community as well... which makes this case just that much more tragic for everyone involved.

The people who were arrested have confessed to the crime and the evidence available appears to point their way. If they are convicted then it seems that the true villians of this case will have been brought to justice. But questions will likely remain in the minds of those who survive the victims and in the minds of the officers who may feel as though different choices might have altered the outcome, whether true or not.

Aaron Larson
The controversy here is complex and multifaceted because there are several points of contention insofar as to at what points the officer involved could have made different choices that might have altered the outcome of this event.

As of now, it appears that Aaron Larson, 28, lost control due to currently unknown reasons, and went on a rampage in the middle of a busy freeway in Seattle. He reportedly had been suffering from depression due to a death in his family and severe sleep deprivation due to changing shifts at work which more than likely contributed to his psychotic episode on Christmas Day where he left the car holding his girlfriend and two children to start swinging his belt at cars in the freeway and attempting to force open doors of vehicles that were forced to stop.

A eleven year veteran Washington State Patrol officer responded to a 911 call, reportedly from Aaron's girlfriend, allegedly stating that he might possibly be armed. When he arrived he got out of his cruiser and approached Aaron, reportedly in an effort to calm him down. This was the first point of contention, should the officer had stayed in his vehicle until backup arrived so that more officers were available to subdue Aaron should he be unresponsive to verbal persuation?

Unfortunately, if true, the officer had reason to believe that Aaron might have been armed and acting in a manner that the officer might reasonably assume to be an imminent threat to the public, so it appears that he had little choice but to try and control the situation by himself. Once he got out and started to approach Aaron he was, allegedly, immediately attacked, in response the officer attempted to taser Aaron to subdue but it had no effect. Aaron allegedly continued the attack and had reportedly started to strangle the officer with the belt that he had previously used to beat passing cars. In response, the officer felt threatened and fired several shots, ultimately killing Aaron in front of several witnesses on the freeway.

The other points of contention surround the shooting and whether it was a reasonable assumption that the officer should have felt threatened enough to open fire while being strangled with a belt. Personally, I know that in the military soldiers are taught that every piece of equipment given to them can have multiple uses, and that the belt can be a formidible weapon in a number of ways. Not just as a garrot but also by using the weighted buckle as a weapon by leveraging the swinging belt itself as a makeshift mace. Witnesses at the scene, DOT cameras recording the events, and the officer all appear to make the same claims and all appear to concede that the officer seemed threatened enough to be justified in using leathal force.

Other questions surround whether there might have been other, less leathal, options available to the officer that could have stopped Aaron that day. Unfortunately the situation had degraded so rapidly that it appears the officer had no other real options left available to him, especially since his losing this confrontation might have armed Aaron with his service weapon, if he wasn't already armed.

Some accounts from people who had worked with the officer involved state that he was mild mannered, just as Aaron was, and had never had to shoot his service weapon in his eleven years on the force. It seems to me that it's reasonable to assume that shooting a man who had lost control of himself in front of several witnesses that included the man's children was the last thing the officer wanted to do on Christmas Day.

It seems to me that everyone was a victim that day, Aaron who had lost control of himself for reasons that may not have been of his choosing. For Aaron's family and children who had to witness that event. For the bystanders who witnessed tragedy on that Christmas day. And for the officer involved, who will now have to second guess himself and always wonder whether he might have done something different that day to change the outcome.

So, was it misconduct in either case?

Well, I tend to be a believer in the humanity inherent in people and that makes me believe that all these officers now have their own demons which they must contend with, to be unfortunately haunted with self doubts fueled by much public speculation. For now I'm withholding judgement and any opinions I might have, whether they favor the officers or not. Besides, what I think probably matters little to anyone involved right now.

Instead I only want to wish everyone involved in both these tragic events all the peace that might be available to them, including the surviving families of the victims and the officers involved... Such tragedies are sometimes only made more tragic when we search too hard for villians to blame when there might well not be any to find.

Responses to Human Rights Abuses at KCCF

In a previous post I cited an apparent lack of adequate response from the ACLU of Washington to the recent findings by the US DOJ of eggregious human rights abuses at the King County Jail in Seattle, Washington and the subsequent statement from King County Executive Ron Sims that stated such abuses were not a violation of any detainee's constitutionally protected right of protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

As promised, I've sent out requests for official responses from a number of well known human rights and civil rights groups pertaining to these events to see if any of these human rights groups cared about human rights abuses that were occuring inside of the United States. While I strongly suspect I will get no response whatsoever since I've not seen any official statements on any of their websites or newsletters, I want to give them a chance to state an opinion anyway.

I've sent the request to the following groups:

  • ACLU of Washington
  • NAACP of Seattle
  • The Alliance for Justice
  • Human Rights First
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Amnesty International USA
  • The City of Seattle Government's Human Rights Committee
Basically the email states that I am working on an article concerning various reactions to the DOJ report citing deadly constitutional rights violations on the part of the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle and the subsequent denail by King County Government officials that the torture of detainees in it's custody amounts to a violation of constitutionally protected human rights as cited by the DOJ. I've asked each for their official responses to this story, if one exists, along with any planned actions.

No replies have been received so far, but if there are any I'll post them here. If there are any other groups you would like me to send a request to, just let me know and I'll do it.

Hopefully at least one of them will show that they care about human rights even when it doesn't suit a specific political agenda... but I'm not holding my breath.

Stay Tuned...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The SPD OPA Year In Review - 2007

The following are a small sample of complaints and investigations taken from the public files of the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability for the year 2007. While these highlight some of the confirmed complaints, it should be noted that many complaints are dismissed merely because it is an officer's word against the complaintant's word and the officer always wins when there are no witnesses.

01/07 – Beating Detainees In Their Cell

Complaint - It was alleged that the named employee used physical force upon his son, who was being detained in a department holding cell.

Result - The evidence supported that the son was arrested and was being held in a department holding cell. Though the employee did not interfere with the arrest or processing of his son, the evidence did support that he had physical contact with him while the son was in the holding cell.


03/07 – Kicking Heads Is A “Training Issue”

Complaint - The complainant alleged that the named employee kicked the subject in the head, while he was attempting to surrender to police.

Result - The investigation determined that the employee’s actions were not a willful violation, and that the violation did not amount to misconduct. There were training issues identified that would be beneficial to address and correct with the named employee.


04/07 – The Alley Barnes Case

Complaint - It was alleged that the named employees used unnecessary force during the arrest of a person involved in a dispute with a sergeant outside of a nightclub and that the sergeant also used unnecessary force in dispersing a crowd. It was also alleged that the sergeant’s enforcement actions were excessive, unwarranted, and motivated by racial bias. The complaint was received internally; the subjects of the force and arrest declined to participate in the internal investigation.

Result - The evidence showed that sergeant contacted a subject for littering outside of a nightclub. The subject’s companion protested the sergeant’s actions, and the sergeant directed an arriving officer to arrest him. The officers state that this subject resisted their efforts to handcuff him, and they used significant force to affect his arrest. This force was documented and reported. However, the evidence indicated that the force used was excessive, under the circumstances.
The evidence also substantiated that the sergeant’s supervision of the scene was inadequate, and that his use of force on members of the crowd was excessive. The evidence did not establish by preponderance that the sergeant’s actions were motivated or influenced by racial bias.

Finding as to two employees–SUSTAINED.

05/07 – Death Threats Are “Questionable Judgment”

Complaint - The named employee is alleged to have been involved in a road rage incident off duty, where he pulled over the complainant and put a gun to his head after his personal vehicle was struck by objects(coins) thrown from the complainant’s vehicle on the

Result - The investigation determined that the employee’s judgment and discretion in this incident were questionable. The issue of conflict of interest was less clear. The allegation of misconduct was neither proved nor disproved by a preponderance of the evidence. Given the risks associated with the pursuit in this incident, the investigation determined that the employee should have discontinued the pursuit.

Finding Discretion—SUSTAINED.
Finding Integrity—NOT SUSTAINED.
Finding Pursuit—SUSTAINED.

06/07 – Assaulting Wife's Ex-Husband = No Jail

Complaint - The complainant alleged that the named employee assaulted her estranged spouse, who had driven to the named employee’s residence to pick up their child for a scheduled visitation.

Result - The allegation was supported by the preponderance of the evidence along with information documented by the arresting agency and the named employee entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Court.


08/07 – “Horse Play”

Complaint - The complainant alleged that the named employee, while in partial police uniform, in a saloon/bar where he was stopping to get a food to go order, acted unprofessionally by locking the complainant in a closet, handcuffing her to a bar stool, and repeatedly going behind the bar after the complainant instructed him not to do so.

Result - The named employee stated that he had stopped by the saloon/bar to pick up some food to go. The named employee described his actions as “horse play,” which had occurred inside a public tavern filled with up to 30 patrons. It was determined that
his behavior led the complainant and witness to question his professionalism and reflected poorly on the Department.

Finding Courtesy & Recognizable Uniform—SUSTAINED.

Monday, December 24, 2007

ACLU Ignored Detainee Abuses at KCCF

When the news broke that the US Department of Justice found evidence of deadly civil rights abuses occuring at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle, Washington I was struck by one specific blurb in one of the articles in the Seattle Post Intelligencer, here.

The particular part in the article that caught my attention was this:

"The threat of a contagious, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection known as MRSA has been a particular focus of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which monitors jail conditions for compliance with a settlement agreement resulting from a 1989 lawsuit, state ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said Wednesday.

"This report from the Justice Department reinforces what we've been saying about the concerns about hygiene at the jail and the need for officials to address those concerns," Honig said."

Well, what struck me wasn't that the paper talked with the ACLU about a prisoner abuse case, it was that I was suprised that the ACLU was actually concerned and doing something about the prisoner abuse... because I have not seen any evidence that they were doing anything at all.

So, I decided to do a bit of research, after all, if the ACLU was concerned and had spoken up about their concerns, I would be able to find out what they said and when.

Several searches later, nothing. No news stories, no papers on their website, no mention, no lawsuits... Not One Thing.

That's right, the ACLU actually has done nothing at all about the prisoner abuse that they had supposedly been allowed to monitor at the King County Jail. In fact, there were no news articles with the Washington state ACLU speaking out about the torture that hundreds of detainees had experienced in that facility. There was also NO MENTION whatsoever of the ACLU speaking out on their own website here. Sure, plenty about Gitmo torture, but not one single solitary mention of the long torturous deaths by infection nor the sexual abuse, or any of the abuses that go on at the King County Jail.

So, it seems that the ACLU lied, they have not been talking about the abuses that occured at the King County Jail, not even since the DOJ's report has the ACLU said one solitary word except for the blurb in this one news article.

I had wondered why I never received a response from the ACLU when I told them how I had been tortured in that jail. It was that the ACLU doesn't really care about the torture of American citizens in American jails, especially when it is done by a supposedly liberal local government, it's not politically expedient for them I suppose... but Gitmo abuses are politically advantageous for their agenda, so that gets plenty of their attention and a vast number of pages on their website as well.

It's a sad day when the US DOJ cares more about the constitutional rights abuses of prisoners in a Seattle jail than the ACLU does. It makes me wonder who is left to defend our rights, because the ACLU isn't.

More than this, the ACLU's silence about the torture of detainees in King County makes them a complicit partner in that torture, especially if it is true that they were charged with monitoring conditions at that jail

UPDATE: To be fair I've sent out requests for official responses to the DOJ report of deadly civil rights abuses at the King County Jail to all civil and human rights organizations. I'll report on what I find out as these reactions, or the utter lack thereof, come in.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Seattle's Criminal Anti-Crime Team?

SPD following a protest march in 2003

The Seattle Police Department's "Anti-Crime Team" is a group of about a half dozen undercover officers from each Seattle Police precinct that are supposedly set up to patrol Seattle's streets undercover to look for criminal activity. Lately, however, they have been in the news several times this year for apparently instigating several instances of violence. Seemingly not satisfied with looking for crime, they have apparently resorted to making crime happen instead.

However, this isn't a recent development for the SPD's ACT, instead they have a long history of misconduct and of employing officers with criminal backgrounds and a history of misconduct. Not only this, but they are seemingly above the law and immune from any attempts to discipline, even when they are found to be in the wrong by internal investigations.

The following are the documented cases of abuses by the SPD ACT, while a small part of the SPD itself, they do seem to contribute greatly to the SPD's poor reputation and massive credibility problems.

However, most painfully clear, is that when you fail to hold such overly aggressive officers accountable, as is clearly the case in Seattle, the number of cases of abuse will only continue to get more eggregious and more frequent.

Remember, these are only the cases that have been documented in the media:

Seattle Weekly “The Cops Credibility Gap

07/02, Nix Case:
SPD ACT pepper sprayed, then tasered in the stomach and buttocks, slapped, and repeatedly kicked a 5’10 180lb 66 year old senior citizen until they cracked his ribs, ruptured his spleen, and lacerated his abdominal wall. ACT claimed Nix was making a drug transaction and allegedly punched officers repeatedly and was too fast for them to subdue. People familiar with Nix stated that he was slow moving due to medical problems.

The SPD and ACT officers lost the use of force report and the OPA investigation left them “administratively exonerated”. Nix was left in jail for 5 days before he finally collapsed in the shower and he was taken for emergency surgery to have his spleen removed.

The Stranger “Gil’s Boys

08/05, Sandidge Case:
SPD ACT mistake two men with clean records for gang members, taser them both numerous times, then accuse them of obstruction and assault of an officer. Months later, during trial, it is revealed the officers lied on their reports and the two men were cleared.

The SPD OPA found the officers guilty of misconduct and recommended severe sanctions. Chief Gil Kerlikowske overruled the OPA findings without explanation. Two of the three are still on the elite SPD ACT, one is working in Narcotics.

KIRO TV “Seattle Officer Accused of Excessive Force

06/06, Post Alley Case:
Off-Duty plain-clothes ACT Officer shoots a 55 year old local defense attorney three times outside of a downtown bar after the attorney witnessed the officer throw a woman against a wall over a dispute involving the officer’s personal motorcycle.
This same officer had a criminal record before becoming an officer and a history of misconduct prior to being promoted to the ACT that included a 1995 incident where he held a gun to someone’s face while off-duty over a verbal dispute while he was off-duty. He then ground the man’s face into the ground while repeatedly hitting him in the head with his loaded duty pistol.

Officer was cleared of any wrongdoing by the OPA.

Seattle PI “Jail Unlikely for Firing at Officers

06/06, Toro Case:
Three plain-clothes ACT detectives in an unmarked SUV instigate a fight with a jeweler in his car at an intersection without identifying themselves which resulted in Toro fleeing because he thought he was being attacked by "gangbangers" which led to a drawn out high-speed chase through residential areas while the ACT officers repeatedly discharged their weapons at Toro, missing several times and hitting his car at least twice. Toro pulled ahead and fired back, disabling the ACT SUV by shooting out the front tires. Because the ACT was shooting wildly, never engaged their lights or sirens during the chase, and never identified themselves as police officers to Toro they recklessly endangered public safety.

Toro was never charged with a crime that would have justified the officers initiating the confrontation, but he plead guilty to misdemeanors associated with brandishing and discharging a weapon to avoid a felony charge associated with the shots that disabled the SUV.
The officers involved are still being investigated, though it's doubtful that any discipline will be issued for their reckless endangerment of public safety.

The Stranger, “Tase First, Ask Questions Later

08/06, Claxton Case:
Aaron Claxton and his cousin, Leroy Gibbs were chased by the ACT in an unmarked black SUV on their way home from a basketball game. As Claxton pulled into his garage, the SUV sped up and pulled in front of the house. The two young men ran inside when chased by four men with guns, they tasered Claxton repeatedly when they caught him before finally identifying themselves by yelling, "Police! Roll over or I will Taser you again!"
Officers then had Claxton wait a half hour handcuffed in his driveway while they tried to figure out what to charge him with.

All charges were later dropped against Claxton, who is an athletic director at a local Boys and Girls club, for lack of evidence of any wrongdoing. The ACT officers were not disciplined for the attack but Claxton filed suit in Dec of 2007. (That suit was settled for a reported $20,000 in Febuary of 2008)

Seattle PI “Jaywalkers smarting after rude encounter with cops

09/07, De Jong Case:
Canadian couple Kristen Heidt and her boyfriend, Benjamin De Jong, were walking from a Seahawks football game and an unmarked SUV screeched to a halt near Heidt. Several plain-clothes ACT officers jumped out and tackled Heidt, bruising and bloodying her without identifying themselves as police officers, De Jong ran up and yelled fearing his girlfriend was being attacked by thugs. Officers then tackled De Jong as well, leaving him bloody and bruised as well.

De Jong was charged and jailed for pedestrian interference and obstructing while his girlfriend was not charged in the incident though the initial excuse for the attack was that she jaywalked. SPD claims an internal investigation was initiated but no results as of yet.

The Stranger, “Head Banger

11/07, Hays Case:
Michael Lujan and Mark Hays walked in front of an unmarked SUV and were chased by several plain-clothes ACT officers for jaywalking (obstructing traffic). They then tackled Lujan and Hays in front of several witnesses from a corner coffee shop and other local businesses who then stated that they witnessed ACT officers hold Hays down on the ground while one officer sat on hays’ head and repeatedly bashed his head into the pavement at least 15 to 20 times while yelling “stop resisting” when Hays was clearly not able to resist.

ACT officers claimed that Hays tackled them when he saw that they had detained Lujan, but witnesses only stated that they saw officers jump out of the SUV and tackle Lujan and Hays. Reportedly, no investigation has been initiated. Hays faces charges of assaulting an officer and obstruction, Lujan faces charges of pedestrian interference and obstructing traffic. (Hays was convicted of both charges in Febuary of 2008 because witnesses who told reporters that Hays did not attack the officer would not come forward at trial.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Disgruntled Employees

In the business world, companies cannot afford to hold onto disgruntled employees that publicly and constantly complain about their employers or even threaten their employers. Businesses can't afford to keep and coddle them because it harms employee morale, it gives the business a bad name, scares away loyal customers, and it harms recruitment and retention efforts.

But, for some reason, the city of Seattle coddles and covers for the disgruntled police officers in its employ even when they take their threats and vitriolic complaints to public forums in very aggressive fashion. The problem is worse that if a business held onto disgruntled employees because these employees are well armed and tend to take their frustrations with their workplace out on the public they are supposed to protect.

For example, a user by the name of "Illustrated Man", who is clearly a police officer by the details of the work environment he uses in his screed against his employer, had this to say in a very public message board:
" a Metro City the pay SUCKS... the BS the PC Gubment puts out SUCKS! The SPIDER crap is just that CRAP... the CALEA stuff is a facade... can I get a what what??? The peeps of C-Town are gonna see a real bad scene start to occur....."

Further down in the same thread we see the following from "reppoc" (which is copper spelled backwards and another self-avowed SPD officer from statements in previous threads), who says:
"They better recognize that they need to fix the problem with the police pay or else...."

Now, I don't know any employer that would let spiteful employees talk publicly about them in such disrespectful and even dangerous terms, but the city of Seattle pays bonuses to keep disgruntled employees like these two on the force and clearly imperils the public by doing so.


The city council and mayor's office lives in dread of the Seattle Police Officer's Guild which actually prints these exact type of threats and rants in their monthly newsletters. I couldn't imagine being a happy employee in such an environment, even if I did like my job and my employer, being forced to work with such angry and bitter employees would drive me out...

...and that's why the SPD has such a problem holding onto the good officers and keeps seeing misconduct stories in the papers, because bad and disgruntled employees like this are coddled instead of tossed out on their butts like any other employee would be if they acted the same exact way.

Instead of endangering the public by letting these angry officers continue to patrol our streets, the city should identify and get rid of them so they can use the money saved to bring in officers that would love their jobs and love their city.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The State Fixes Problems Seattle Refuses To Address

The Washington State Department of Corrections has responded to rising cases of sexual abuse and outright rape of female prisoners by investing millions in new cameras for prison facilities so that there are no gaps in video coverage where guards and other staff can molest female inmates.

Story at The Seattle Times

Meanwhile, King County executive Sims and the head of King County's Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, Holgeerts, are still on record insisting that raping detainees, killing detainees by denying them access to medical care, and severely beating detainees after they have been restrained is not a violation of their constitutionally protected rights in response to findings by the US Department of Justice of these kinds of incidents at their facility. I believe we can safely assume that there will be no cameras installed in the deadly King County Jail any time soon.

The same holds true for the Seattle Police Department precincts where the Seattle Police Officer's Guild has been dead-set opposed and have successfully killed the idea to install cameras in all areas of police precincts where detainees would be held or transported through. With the recent appointment of the heavily SPOG funded Tim Burgess to the city council's Public Safety committee that is responsible for police oversight and accountability issues, it's also safe to assume there will be no cameras installed in Seattle police precincts either.

Funny how the state of Washington has made the effort to protect convicted prisoners but the city of Seattle and the surrounding King County refuse to make the effort of similarly protecting pre-trial, and thus potentially innocent, detainees.

It's also funny that, the very instrument that would best protect the police and corrections officers from false accusations of abuse are opposed by those same officers and guards that lament their bad reputations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

SPD's Anti-Crime Taskforce in the News AGAIN?

Correct me if I'm wrong, readers, but this seems to be the FOURTH time that the SUV riding Seattle Police Department's Anti-Crime Taskforce has been in the news for alleged misconduct... I wonder if anyone other than myself sees or even cares that there is a definite pattern of abusive behavior here.

1. The Toro case in the paper today, chasing a guy in their SUV without identifying themselves as police or turning on their sirens or lights.
2. chasing another guy in their SUV and then tasering him in his own driveway before they bothered to identify themselves as police.
3. Jumping out of their SUV and bashing a jaywlker's head into the pavement 20 times in front of several witnesses.
4. Jumping out of their SUV and assaulting a girl from Canada and her boyfriend, for jaywalking, without identifying themsleves as police.

...because it's pretty obvious that the police chief doesn't seem to notice or care that his officers are apparently rampaging through the streets and terrorizing citizens without a care in the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ex Cop Guns For Police Accountability Board Position

Tim Burgess, the recently elected ex-police officer on the Seattle city council is gunning for the Public Safety board position that currently deals with police misconduct and oversight issues that was headed by pro-accountability council member Nick Licata.

Not only is Tim Burgess an ex-cop, which brings about some conflict of interest questions into the mix, he was also heavily supported by the Seattle Police Officer's Guild during his election bid, which makes this a rather disconcerting development. The police guild, or SPOG, is the same organization that made well publicized, but unsubstantiated, claims against his opponent right before the election for supposedly threatening the police officer's union for not supporting his election bid... his opponent, interestingly enough, was also pro-accountability.

So, now that the police guild's candidate has won election, it seems that he intends to make good on that support by gunning after the council committee that has traditionally been the supporter of police accountability efforts. Given that he ran on his police credentials with the backing of anti-accountability SPOG funding, it's fairly likely that he will start to take apart any police accountability efforts that have taken place up to this point if he does take that committee's leadership position.

So, if he does manage to get the post, it is quite likely that we'll have to brace ourselves for even more reports in the press, and here, about police misconduct and prisoner abuse in Seattle. Because at that point, there will likely be nobody in elected government office who has any interest in controlling the out-of-control Seattle Police Department and the rabidly anti-oversight Seattle Police Officer's Guild. Not the mayor, not the prosecutor, and now not even the city council members who are responsible for police misconduct issues.

Seems that next year promises to be a very busy one for this site, unfortunately, so stay tuned...

Police Misconduct On The Rise

The USA Today has an article citing a 25% rise in cases of police misconduct since 9/11 and a subsequent increased number of prosecutions with the disclaimer that only 2-4% of civil rights abuse cases are actually followed up on.

Let me rephrase a key point, 96% of police abuse cases were declined for prosecution in the US last year, 98% of rights violation cases were declined the year before. This means that a vast number of confirmed rights violations go unpunished and unresolved, which encourages corrupt officers to be even more brazed about abusing citizens... hence the rise in misconduct cases.

Now, the rise of police brutality and rights violations on detainees can is attributed to 9/11 in the article, and this is somewhat correct in that there is a tie there. Simply for the fact that the public is less concerned with their civil rights than they used to be, they've traded their rights for a feeling of security by being permissive towards the abuse of detainees who have been accused of having terrorist links. More than this, the traditional defenders of human rights in the US have turned their efforts towards Guantanamo and Iraq so they have given up on the American victims of rights abuses.

The police have picked up on this shift and have been emboldened to cut corners and ignore rules regarding the rights of detainees. We've seen it here in Seattle with the arguments by King County government officials stating that detainees in the King County Jail have no rights to protect after several have died in custody, have been sexually assaulted by guards, or have been severely beaten and denied medical treatment as a form of punishment. Because detainees in Guantanamo have no rights, the argument goes, this then holds true for detainees in Seattle, apparently.

Unfortunately, governmental and NGO civil rights groups have been strained thin, either by a shift of focus towards terrorist-related security efforts that draw officers from the civil rights enforcement arm of the DOJ or by the shifting focus on anti-terror efforts by groups like the ACLU of Washington, who are now too distracted by such issues to do or even make a statement about high profile police misconduct or prisoner abuse cases here in Seattle... and the public has been fairly silent as well because of that willingness to sacrifice liberty for a sense of security.

Prosecutors in the USA Today story cite the difficulties associated with prosecuting police officers when the abuse citizens for the low prosecution rates against the police and jails that violate detainee rights. I agree that this is mostly true since citizens are trained to always trust the police and take their word for things over the word of a person who stands accused.

However, there is more to the story. Because the public is unconcerned about rights issues in the US, either due to being more concerned about Guantanamo detainees or because they feel security is more important than their civil rights, there is little real political incentive to prosecute the police when they harm citizens. After all, the office of prosecutor is an elected position in the US, and nobody runs on a "tough on police misconduct" platform, only "tough on the accused" platforms.

This is, ultimately, why so few obvious cases of police brutality go to trial and why we have seen a massive rise in cases of police brutality in the US and right here in Seattle. Not just that the police and other institutions do such a good job of covering for bad officers, but also because the public and elected officials are largely disinterested in human rights issues that occur right in their own back yard.

Seattle Moves The OPA

The city of Seattle has finally decided to move the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability, (otherwise known as the OPA), and the Internal Affairs units out of the Seattle police department's headquarters in order to address concerns that fewer people come forward with complaints about police abuses when they have to do so at a police station.

story here

Of course, this would be true if it weren't for the fact that you don't have to go to a police station to file a complaint, you can also do so via phone or even by a form on the OPA's website. The more subtle issue is that having the IA and OPA located at police headquarters gives the impression of impropriety and a conflict of interest.

Unfortunately, it is that same subtle issue that ultimately means this move is not sufficient to address the conflicts of interest and the fear of reprisals that limit the number of complaints that are received by the, largely powerless, OPA. As I mentioned previously, the fact that the OPA is staffed by police officers pulled, non-voluntarily, from the ranks of the SPD means that citizens encounter a skeptical voice at the other end of the line after they file a complaint.

For example, when I filed a complaint with the OPA this year, part of that process meant that I had to leave contact information with my complaint form. A few days after the complaint was filed I received a call from a person identified not as a member of the OPA or IA, but as a Seattle police officer. While the call was somewhat startling for me, a victim of police misconduct who really does not want to have any more contact with the police, it was also somewhat cordial... at least until I actually started to explain what happened to me.

The response from this police officer was given in a fairly sarcastic tone, "Oh really? Is that it?" It didn't leave me very encouraged that a serious investigation was about to be performed by that particular officer. But this is the result of an inherent conflict of interest that is formed when you force police officers who consider themselves officers over being members of a task force dedicated to finding and removing misconduct from the SPD.

This is why the move will ultimately be a failure in regards to removing that perception of impropriety and will not result in any significant increase in the willingness of people to report abuse, and ultimately why you will continue to see even more accounts of abuses in the newspapers since people feel that the media are the only ones who will take their testimony seriously.

In order to remove this conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety on the part of the SPD through the OPA and IA, it is necessary for the city of Seattle to move more than just an office, they need to move the unwilling police officers who staff the OPA out of that office and replace them with people who were not members of the rank and file and who are specifically recruited and trained to perform the task at hand... not protecting abusers within the ranks, but discovering them and working to limit the abuses they can inflict on members of the public.

Until then, while most will see the planned move as a step in the right direction, most will eventually discover that it is only a step into a good bit of window dressing for that new office space with the same old faces behind it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Analyzing Seattle's Police Misconduct Problem

The problem with police misconduct in Seattle is a complex and systemic one and is perpetuated via a mix of top-down negligence and lack of oversight empowerment along with an institutionalized acceptance of misconduct and an endemic discouragement of reporting incidents of abuse.

This article will discuss just a few of the various levels of complicity responsible the pervasive attitude of permissiveness in regards to police misconduct within the Seattle Police Department. I write this not only in the hope that it can motivate people to encourage change within the system, but to explain the problem to people who might not be familiar with Seattle's various public service institutions and governmental policies.

Executive Inattentiveness

Much research has been done regarding corporate culture and their relationships to abusive environments. The results of systemic abusive behavior in corporate culture research points towards two main culprits for corporate cultures that nurture abusive behaviors from the top down; leadership by example or executive inattentiveness/disinterest.

While not suggesting whether Seattle mayor Greg Nickles is leading in an abusive way, it is easy to see how the mayor is not concerned with police misconduct issues. Allowing abusive police behavior can be spun as being tough on crime to the electorate, so there is little incentive for making misconduct prevention a priority there. Also, because police misconduct lawsuits are difficult to file and do not cost the city much when successful, thanks to the city’s insurance carriers, there is no financial incentive either. Since there is little incentive to actually do anything about police misconduct, it’s clear that such issues are of a very low priority. Of course, Since police misconduct is a very low priority and of little consequence to the mayor, it becomes a low priority within the police department itself.

Governmental Policies of Secrecy

Part of a city government’s job is not just to protect and serve its citizenry, but also to protect itself and the job of defending the city from legal action falls to the Seattle city Attorney, Tom Carr. It is fairly well known within the city government that the primary policy is to never, ever, admit to any errors, apologize for harm done by mistake, or engage in discourse with victims of misconduct because the city attorney has declared that doing so only opens the doors to civil suit. A byproduct of this policy is to close off the openness of city government so that any errors or misconduct cannot be discovered and any misleading statements made in regard to denial of wrongdoing don’t come to light.

A direct and well publicized product of this policy of secrecy from the city attorney’s office is the reluctance of the Seattle Police Department to disclose police disciplinary records when other departments in the state do disclose them. Other practices to support this policy include keeping criminal cases open past the time charges are dismissed in order to keep these records closed to the public and civil lawyers as well as the practice of allowing the police chief to make summary judgments to overturn disciplinary recommendations from police oversight bodies without public explanation.

By keeping cases of abuse under wraps, it limits the ability of the public to see the true extent of police misconduct, which only serves to encourage misconduct to continue unopposed by public opinion since the true extent of abuse is kept hidden from that public at large, which allows it to remain a low priority item within government and the department itself.

Ineffective Oversight

The Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability (SPD OPA), which is staffed by police officers, and the civilian led Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) are the oversight bodies charged with investigating claims of police misconduct and making determinations of the validity of those claims along with recommended courses of action in regards to sustained claims.

The primary problem with this oversight body is that it is completely powerless to enforce its findings and it is prevented from making fully informed determinations by the city’s secrecy policies combined with strictures placed upon it by the contract formed between the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG). These include some very binding limitations that include the inability to make any enforceable recommendations to the chief of police, who is free to overrule the OPA without explanation. Other limitations include a strict time limit that prevents the department from disciplining officers when investigations take longer than 180 days, and a limitation on what records the civilian oversight board can view when reviewing case findings from the OPA.

Beyond this, one of the chief problems with the OPA is how it is staffed. Not only do complainants have to tell police officers about police misconduct, which discourages them from making complaints due to widespread fears of police retaliation and obvious conflicts of interest. But the people who are placed within the OPA are put into those roles from within other departments by rank and file officers. The SPOG newsletters and other articles are rife with complaints from officers who do not want to be in the OPA but are placed there anyway. The main reason for the complaints is that the OPA is vilified within the ranks of officers and the guild halls quite openly, and nobody wants to be a social outcast within the department of their peers.

So, we see that the problems with the OPA are not only limited by policy, but also sociologically by peer pressure from other officers and their guild. Officers who fill the ranks of the OPA are discouraged from doing their jobs to the best of their abilities while the civilian oversight component is handcuffed by limitations to their oversight capabilities.

Systemic Opposition to Oversight

If you spend any time reading the Seattle Police Officers Guild monthly newsletters you can clearly see that there is clear opposition from the guild and the rank and file officers towards oversight and accountability mechanisms. Many opinion editorials and messages from the president are peppered with negative references describing programs to ensure the ability of officers to report misconduct without fear of reprisal, towards the oversight process and bodies, as well as the paperwork associated with use of force incidents. In fact, at least half of the content of the guild newsletters is devoted to complaints about oversight and accountability.

Beyond this, however, is the permissive attitude from the upper levels of management that overlook incidents of reprisal against officers accused of reporting incidents of misconduct, one well publicized event resulted in the police chief exonerating an officer for calling another officer a “rat” in front of that officer’s peers, in clear violation of established policies and whistleblower laws.

SPOG and many officers are so opposed to oversight that they often oppose policies and plans that would work in their favor towards limiting frivolous complaints of police misconduct. Most notably is the guild’s opposition towards placing cameras in precincts in order to monitor prisoner treatment and interactions between police officers and the public. It’s clear that such an initiative would work towards the officer’s advantage so long as they followed policy, so it’s difficult to see why they oppose this plan when they favor the placement of cameras in public areas.

It is this clear and systemic opposition to oversight and use of force policies that further encourages abusive behavior and even makes it seem expected within the ranks.

Social Acceptance of Abuse

This leads us to the social acceptance of police misconduct, not only within the department itself but also from other segments of society which view abusive tactics as a necessary part of the war on crime without thinking of the consequences which occur when police officers make mistakes and employ abusive tactics on innocent civilians.

Again, the SPOG newsletter opinion pieces include articles discussing how police work in Seattle isn’t “fun anymore”, in large part because of ‘use of force paperwork’ and oversight interviews that make officers feel as though they are on trial. This clearly demonstrates a bottom-up opposition towards the idea of accountability by many Seattle police officers, this attitude not only encourages others to engage in abusive behavior but also actively discourages officers from reporting incidents by making misconduct seem accepted and expected.


As can be seen, the problems with police misconduct are systemic and complex, abusive behavior is encouraged at every layer of city government either through disinterest or direct opposition to oversight processes. Because of this, it is clear that no oversight review panel report or single legislative change will be sufficient to reduce the number and blatant severity of police misconduct incidents that are being reported at an alarmingly increasing pace. A commitment to resolving police misconduct must be a high priority mission instituted from the top down and must remove the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild from the decision making body that determines how to establish effective oversight and disciplinary policies.

Until then, the problem of police misconduct in Seattle will only continue to escalate unabated and will draw national and international attention and condemnation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SPD Sued Again in Another Undercover Assault

Seattle's The Stranger has yet another report of a lawsuit filed against the Seattle Police Department.

It appears that the SPD undercover Anti-Crime Team has a history of attacking people because... yes, it's about the same ACT who repeatedly tasered someone MISTAKENLY identified as a gang member this summer, jumped two jaywalkers and repeatedly bashed one's head into the pavement after he was restrained last week, and yes, the same officers who assaulted a Canadian woman and her friend for jaywalking last month.

This time, in August of 2006, it appears that an athletic director and employee of the year from the Seattle Boys & Girls Club, Aaron Claxton, was heading home from a late night basketball game and has he pulled into his driveway an unmarked SUV sped up to the front of his house as several unidentified armed men jumped out and ran up to him and a friend. The armed men allegedly did not identify themselves and used a taser to subdue Mr. Claxton, handcuffed him, and then let him sit in his driveway for 20 minutes.

When Mr. Claxton asked officers why they were taking so long to do anything, they replied, "we're trying to figure out what to charge you with." Eventually they decided to charge him with obstruction, speeding, and running a stop sign... all of which were later dropped due to lack of proof.

By the way, this is the same ACT that, despite findings of wrongdoing from the SPD Office of Professional Accountability, the police chief repeatedly exonerated out of hand with no explanation. Seems that maybe there should be some accountability at the top of the SPD too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dignity and Justice for All of Us

Today, December 10, is Human Rights Day.

The United Nations has started a year-long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the theme "Dignity and Justice for All of Us". Seems fitting really, considering everything that has been happening in the world and particularly in the United States... and yes, here in Seattle.

As my more regular readers probably know, I dedicate a great deal of time to the concepts of justice and the permissive attitudes in the US towards the use of cruel and unusual punishment on prisoners and pre-trial detainees which violate Article 5, Article 6, and Article 7 of that declaration of human rights.

Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

As you may know, the King County Jail has recently been found to regularly violate the constitutionally protected rights of the detainees entrusted to its care by the Department of Justice. However the local officials in charge of the jail have declared that endangering the lives and permanently harming detainees is not a violation of any rights they might have.

Now, not many people understand the need to consider prisoners as being worthy of equal protections under law and that their human rights should be protected as well. But consider this, hundreds of people who have been convicted of crimes that carry the death penalty or lengthy prison sentences have been exonerated this year alone. To suggest that these innocent people deserved to be tortured or mistreated is to suggest that everyone should be tortured and mistreated because they are the same as you and me... they are innocent law abiding citizens.

Innocent and law abiding citizens have been tortured there. I know that not many people care about that even though I do my best to show that they should. After all, you and I are both innocent law abiding citizens, therefore what happened to them can happen to you.

So, even if you don't care about the rights of prisoners.

Even if you don't care about the torture they went through.

You should care about protecting your own rights.

This is why I urge you to do something to support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, or at least do something that supports the United States Constitution. Write a letter to your representative telling them why protecting rights for everyone, even prisoners, is important. Write the media, write your friends, write the local officials here who think that torturing US citizens before their day in court is permissible.

Don't do it for me, do it for yourself.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Today the Washington Post revealed a two-faced treachery of the worst kind. The democratic leadership in Washington DC, the very same one that has been leading the outcry against detainee abuse and torture, has been shown to support and encourage detainee abuse and torture in secret meetings while claiming to oppose it in public.

These meetings revealed to congressional leadership, including Nancy Pelosi(D), Jane Harmon(D), Bob Graham(D), John Rockefeller(D), Porter Goss(R), and Pat Roberts(R). Only Jane Harmon has claimed to oppose the discussed plans to torture detainees by way of a confidential letter to the CIA sent after the meetings. There was no dissent during the meetings from either Democratic nor Republican leadership during these secret meetings, and in fact some urged the CIA to use even harsher torture methods because they thought waterboarding was too mild.

For me, this is significant because they are not alone, the local democrats, especially county executive Ron Sims(D), here have done exactly the same thing by suggesting that abusing and torturing detainees in the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle is perfectly legal and not a violation of anyone's civil rights. So, not only do local democrats support torture, so does the entire democratic party and their leadership. I won't even discuss republican support of torture and prisoner abuse, we know where they stand as well.

So, today we find out that no political party in the United States of America understands why the founding fathers of this nation saw fit to specify that all detainees, foreign and domestic, should be treated in a humane way, that they understood it was best not to induce further hate and anger by mistreating those charged to their care.

As the victim of prisoner abuse I fear what will become of this country now, where it has been decided that it is perfectly fine to torture and kill people prior to their day in court. What have we become now that we no longer understand the need for due process and protections from cruel and unusual punishment?

Have we, as a nation, finally looked upon the face of evil for so long and so deeply that we too have become the monsters we sought to slay?

To me... Today, we have indeed done just that... and I am deeply ashamed and afraid.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Some Advice

Picture: Seattle Police making a JAYWALKING arrest

I'd like to offer some advice for people who find themselves forced into an interaction with the police in Seattle based on my own personal experience as an innocent person who was accused of a crime and abused in custody, based on other anecdotal stories, and based on some of the usual suggestions given by legal experts as well.

If you are a legal expert or have experienced abuse and disagree or would like to add to these, please let me know.

Interacting with SPD Officers:
  1. Know your rights - Remember that the kind of information you are obligated to give to police officers is very limited, otherwise you are under no requirement to divulge any information without consulting with your attorney first... However
  2. Politely and quickly comply with all legal orders - Do what the officer tells you so long as it is a legal command. This is why it is important to know rule 1, understand your rights.... However...
  3. If you feel threatened - Comply with any command! Unfortunately, some members of the SPD don't really care about your rights (see article about SPD officers arresting people for legally taking pictures) and they will assault you if you attempt to utilize your rights. (see article about man beaten for asking an officer a question). So, the best advice I know of is to follow all commands except those that would implicate you with a criminal offense or a command that would be illegal for you to follow. (i.e. if a cop told you to commit a crime).
  4. Do not fight back - Even if you are being illegally attacked, you should not resist, even accidental contact will be claimed as assault on an officer and that's a charge nobody can win against. Unfortunately, what will likely happen is that even if you do not resist the police will claim that you did, but your only hope is that there is a camera watching somewhere, so your best bet is still to never resist or struggle.
  5. Document everything - When you are being falsely arrested or being abused by the police, do whatever you can to de-escalate the situation, comply with all commands and stay quiet as much as possible. Be patient, do not argue, but try to remember everything you can, document it as soon as you can, and then let the lawyers argue it out later.
  6. ASK A LAWYER FIRST! - If you feel you have been abused or your rights have been violated, do not file a complaint with the OPA without talking to a CIVIL lawyer first. If they won't help, talk to the press, and if they won't help, then file a complaint. The OPA is toothless and often ignored, so consider it your last resort.
  7. If you witness abuse - Report it to both the OPA and the media. The statement of officers means more to the OPA than eyewitness accounts, but the media does value eyewitness statements so this is why you must report abuse to both, this way the police can't deny that there were reports of abuse when the media calls to get their statement of events. Most importantly, do not intervene and do not draw attention to yourself! If the officers are abusing someone they are already acting irrationally, they may attack you too if you draw attention to yourself, and once they decide to hurt you, there's nothing you can do to stop them.
  8. Recording Abuse - If you do witness abuse, try to record it with a camera or on video. However, be discrete! If the police witness you taking pictures they will take your camera and destroy the evidence, they may even arrest you for it. There have been many media reports of this kind of illegal activity on the part of the police, you may have the right to record them, but remember that they don't care about your rights. Take the recording to the media first, make copies, and then tell the OPA about it afterwards.

If you are arrested:
  1. Be quiet! - The best advice is to say as little as humanly possible. You are obligated to give your name and confirm your identity, but otherwise, don't talk at all. Do not argue your case to the officer, once an officer arrests you that officer is certain that you did something wrong, even if you didn't. Save it for the court because arguing your case to the police will, at best, get your words twisted and used against you, at worst you will get abused.
  2. Stay Aware! - Make mental notes of everything you can, especially officer names and badge numbers if you can read them.
  3. Do what you are told - Except where it would implicate you with a crime, do whatever you are instructed and do it quick.
  4. Contact a lawyer ASAP! - As soon as you are allowed, contact a lawyer or tell the person you call to contact a lawyer.
If you are confined in the King County Jail:
  1. Again, do what you are told - So long as it's a legal command that will not implicate you with a crime, do whatever you are told, do it quick, and don't argue. The guards are not on your side, they will look for any excuse to punish you, and the punishment will be painful. You have no rights there, to everyone you are now a criminal, so nobody cares if you are beaten or killed in there. So best advice is to do whatever you can to keep a low profile, keep to yourself, and keep quiet.
  2. Don't tell the guards anything - If you witness a fight or illegal activity, don't run to the guards, that will get you hurt. The guards, even if they listen, will not protect you from retribution later, so keep to yourself.
  3. Don't tell other prisoners anything! - It is best to keep to yourself as much as possible, if you do interact keep to to small talk. But whatever you do, do not talk about your case or what happened at all. Some prisoners will try to get better treatment or plea deals by twisting your words and offering to testify against you. If asked about why you're in, keep it simple and only state your charges, if you say anything at all.
  4. Get a bunk if you can - The holding tanks are almost always overcrowded, people will have to sleep on the floor. If you can, take a bunk as quick as you can. Don't be polite and let someone in before you. If you do end up on the floor, do not let your sheets, blankets, or anything else touch the floor. Those cells flood often, and you don't want that kind of water on your things because you aren't allowed to change them out for any reason.
  5. Use Kites! - You are not to talk or ask the guards anything directly, if you have a question or need something, use the forms called KITES to ask for it.
  6. Get up early for triage! - If you are hurt, make sure you fill out a medical kite before they call for triage nurse, you cannot go without a kite and they call for it very early in the morning... and they don't tell you about this either.
  7. If you are abused or denied treatment - Tell your lawyer immediately, tell your family, your friends, get the word out to as many people as you can. The guards will not sympathize and any grievance you file can simply be ripped up by a guard and never see the light of day since the forms have to go through guards to make it anywhere, even if they did count. So your best bet is the lawyer and everyone reporting the abuse to the press or others.
To be Continued....

Thursday, December 6, 2007

King County Council Takes DOJ Report Seriously (NOT)


Disregard everything below this. The news article about the King County Council's response to the DOJ report citing constitutional rights violations at the King County Jail is entirely innaccurate.

I watched a video recording of that hearing and all the council members did was talk about how they could answer the report in a way that limited what they had to do to fix the problems cited. In other words, they talked about how they could whitewash the whole thing and keep on abusing detainees as usual.

It was a shameful disgrace, and after watching that video I am now more certain than ever that the abuses and torture will continue at the King County Jail.


Finally, someone actually understood how important the DOJ investigation into civil rights abuses at the King County Jail really is. The King County Council had some very harsh words for the KCCF administrators who insisted that abusing prisoners and denying them access to medical treatment wasn't an abuse of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Councilman Dan Ferguson seemed to understand the disconnect clearly when he told the head of the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention that "There's a huge divide between 'room for improvement' and what's in the report." in response to King County Executive Ron Sims' and DAJD head Reed Holtgeerts' attempts to cover up problems by denying that endangering pretrial prisoners was a violation of their rights.

While the jail, despite insisting that the existing jail practices are not in violation of anyone's civil rights, states it is working with the DOJ to correct the potentially deadly items cited in the DOJ report, the King County Council suggested that it might be a good idea to create an oversight board to ensure the jail conforms to expected standards of prisoner care.

As an innocent victim of abuses in that jail, I personally thank the King County Council for seeing how damning that report really is and wholeheartedly encourage the pursuit of establishing an oversight board due to the jail's repeated attempts to cover up deaths and downplay abuses at the facility.

full story at The Seattle Post Intelligencer

UPDATE: The Seattle Post Intelligencer changed the story a few times on their website, so if the link doesn't work let me know.

But further than that, after changing the story they watered it down a bit by describing the physical abuse cited in the report as merely a matter of guards pulling prisoner's hair. The report actually describes this as a "
hair-hold maneuver" which is also used as a martial arts take-down move which can be exceptionally risky, as the report specifically describes, when used on prisoners who have their hands cuffed behind their backs because they cannot slow their momentum as their faces are driven down into the concrete floors.

Indeed, the report specifically cites at least two cases of prisoners being spun around and driven face down into the floor by use of the hair hold takedown, some of these cited cases resulted in multiple contusions, bleeding from the ears, and eye lacerations that required sutures.

Clearly these are more than just a matter of guards grabbing prisoners by the hair, it is a matter of egregious physical abuse that violates the constitutional protections for pretrial prisoners. It's important that the media reports this accurately.

Holding AA Meetings at a Bar... the same as holding a meeting about police misconduct and accountability in a police station.

Yes, the Seattle Police Department Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) and the OPA Review Board (OPARB) are holding a meeting tonight to talk to the community about the oversight process, the kinds of misconduct cases they review, and to hear comments and suggestions.

Now, since it's being held in a police station, something tells me there aren't going to be any complaints or suggestions.

Maybe they'll hold a weight loss clinic at the Hostess Cupcake factory next.

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