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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.)


Anonymous said...

WOW you might need to get your stories straight... some of your info is flat out WRONG!!!

What a waste of time you are, no wonder you got arrested and the crap beat out of you, sounds like you deserved it!!!

As much as you want the ACT teams to be responsible for all of these incidents you are just using them as a scapegoat so you have someone to blame....

Packratt said...

Well, if you have any specific rebuttals about what the reporters wrote in the pieces I linked I would be more than happy to post them or make corrections.

As for everything else said, I would thank you for your comment but I think it's a bit unprofessional for a police officer to send such comments to someone using a government computer.

Trust me, I want to be fair about it and I'm always eager to hear the police officer's side of things. All these reports of police misconduct scare me, frankly, and I would rather not be afraid of you guys... but you guys have to give us a reason not to fear you.

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