SEATTLE - Witnesses said firefighters Robert Howell and Scott Bullene attacked a homeless veteran because he was sleeping on the memorial to fallen firefighters in Pioneer Square.
But when investigators interviewed the alleged victim, they heard facts that led them to decline prosecuting the case as a felony assault.
“He indicated that he had gotten into it with the suspect and described actually using the stick first. He also was very clear and very reticent about not wanting to cooperate with the prosecution. And for us that's an extreme challenge when we don't have the victim of assault willing to participate,” said Ian Goodhew, chief of staff to Prosecutor Dan Satterberg
Goodhew emphasizes that the men got no special treatment because they are firefighters.
“In this instance, without the ability to overcome any claim of self-defense buy the suspect or the victim's cooperation we can't prosecute this felony,” he said
The case has been turned over to the City Attorney’s Office to see if it wants to pursue misdemeanor charges.
The two firefighters are on administrative leave pending discipline from the fire department.