• Seattle police officers file civil rights complaint against DOJ monitor, mayor, city attorney

    By: Casey McNerthney , KIRO 7 STAFF

    Updated:

    More than 100 officers with the Seattle Police Department have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Seattle mayor, city attorney, Department of Justice monitor and U.S. attorney general saying use-of-force policies are unreasonably restricting their Constitutional rights.
     
    An attachment to the complaint, filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, names 122 officers.

    Specifically, the officers say the use-of-force policies “unreasonably restrict and burden their right to protect themselves and others in violation of the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution”

    KIRO 7 is at Mayor Ed Murray’s office to ask him about the civil rights complaint filed against him. We are also asking City Attorney Pete Holmes about the claim, who was named as a defendant, too.  KIRO 7’s Alison Grande is working to get their responses. She will report live on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News starting at 5 p.m.

    ‘Officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured’
     
    The civil rights complaint said that in some places, the use-of-force policy “is overly complicated and contradictory, in other places overly precise and mechanical,” requiring officers to engage in “mental gymnastics.”
     
    “The (use-of-force policies and practices require Plaintiffs to under-react to threats of harm until we have no choice but to overreact,” the complaint reads. “This makes it inevitable – although unnecessary and unreasonable – that officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured.”
     
    The officers say what the city and Seattle police have drafted, “with heavy-handed oversight by (the) DOJ and the Monitor, is a policy that wholly disregards the Court’s clear prioritization of the practical safety issues facing police officers.”
     
    The use-of-force policy “induces hesitation because officers are fearful of censure and sanction should their actions, in hindsight, be judged to have violated any of a number of layers of rules and provisions that invite conflicting interpretation.”
     
    ‘Hesitation to responding to calls for backup’
     
    Earlier this month, a report from Seattle police data showed that in the past four years the number of times an officer checked out a suspicious person plummeted 80 percent.
     
    “Aside from evidence that officers are hesitating and/or failing to use appropriate and lawfully justified force to address threats safely and effectively, there is evidence of a dramatic decrease in proactive police work to investigate and stop crime,” the complaint reads. “Officers are turning in their Tasers in large numbers – even though such devices provide reasonable and effective tools when facing threatening conduct – because Plantiffs are confused about how and when we can use them to see too great a possibility for unreasonable discipline under the (use-of-force) policy.
     
    “Police officers will testify to an insidious new hesitation to responding to calls for backup.”
     
    Officers previously have told KIRO 7 that proactive checkes have dropped because of what they believe is excessive paperwork and scrutiny that began after DOJ oversight began. 

    The civil rights complaint also said that officers “are now being brought in to headquarters like criminal suspects and subjected to intimidating, non-consensual recorded interviews for conduct that was widely accepted as effective and lawful policing just a few months ago.”

    “The real-world effect of the (use-of-force) policy is to induce a reluctance by patrol officers to use appropriate and sufficient use of force to control dangerous suspects,” the civil rights complaint reads. “It effectively creates hesitation and paralysis by analysis that puts officers, suspects and the general public at greater risk of injury or death, as a situation that might have been quelled early on is allowed to spiral to increasingly higher levels of violence because the officer uses too little force too late.”
     
    Click here to read a PDF of the full civil rights complaint filed Wednesday afternoon.

    History of DOJ investigation
     
    In December 2010, the DOJ concluded officers engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive force. The investigation came after more than 30 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the DOJ to investigate.
     
    In the summer of 2012, the DOJ filed a consent decree to address concerns and separately entered into a settlement agreement. The consent decree was modified in U.S. District Court in Sept. 2012.
     
    On Sept. 21, the court modified and entered the consent decree. The documents below provide more information about the investigation, the Justice Department's findings, the consent decree and memorandum of understanding, and next steps.

    The 122 officers who have joined the civil rights complaint make up roughly seven percent of the approximately 1,800 overall members of the Seattle Police Department.

    While the cover sheet of the complaint references a total of 126 officers, the list of names includes only 122. Four names appear to have been removed.

    List of 122 officers involved in civil complaint and precinct assignment

    Lori Aagard, East

    Audi Acuesta, North

    Christopher Anderson, North

    Jack Bailey, East

    Kieran Barton, North

    George Baseley, North

    Lance Basney, North

    Adam Beatty, North

    Ryan Beck, North

    Steven Berg, North

    Donald Bolston, East

    Cliff Borjeson, North

    Weldon Boyland, North

    Robert Brown, North

    Robert Burk, North

    Ted Cablayan, North

    William Campbell, East

    Ronald Campbell, East

    Louis Chan, North

    Clarke Chase, North

    Steve Clark, North

    Christopher Coles, East

    Austin Davis, North

    Jason Dewey, North

    Salvatore DiTusa, North

    Adam Elias, North

    Ryan Ellis, North

    Randy Ellis, East

    Theresa Emerick, North

    Jon Emerick, North

    Brien Escalante, North

    John Farrar, North

    Henry Feldman, North

    Oscar Gardea, North

    Curtis Gerry, SPD Range

    Tyler Getts, North

    Michael Gonzales, North

    Joshua Goodwin, North

    Ernest Hall, North

    Sean Hamlin, North

    Brian Hanson, North

    David Harrington, North

    Richard Heintz, Southwest

    Thomas Heller, North

    Randall Higa, North

    Bridget Hillan, North

    Jason Hoppers, North

    Gretchen Hughes, North

    Jeffrey Johnson, North

    Erik Johnson, North

    Timothy Jones, North

    Nina Jones, North

    Vernon Kelley, North

    Ryan Kennard, North

    Bryan Kennedy, North

    Steve Kim, North

    Brian Kokesh, North

    Michael Larned, North

    Nathan Lemberg, North

    Rusty Leslie, North

    Joseph Mahar, North

    Robert Mahoney, North

    AJ Marks, North

    Ron Martin, North

    Richard McAuliffe, North

    William McCowan, North

    Christopher Meyers, West

    Jeff Mitchell, Nroth

    Gilles Montaron, North

    Todd Nelson, North

    Liliya Nesteruk, North

    Derek Norton, North

    Leroy Outlaw, North

    Tim Owens, North

    Jeffrey Page, North

    Suzanne Parton, North

    Paul Pendergrass, North

    Karen Pio, North

    Steven Pomper, East

    Richard Pruitt, SPD Range

    Jonathan Reese, North

    Anthony Jones Reynolds, South

    Alan Richards, North

    Ennis Roberson, North

    Shelly San Miguel, North

    TJ San Miguel, North

    Trent Schroeder, North

    Eugene Schubeck, North

    Michael Severance, North

    Tabitha Sexton, North

    A. Sheheen, North

    Jose Silva, East

    John Smith, North

    Michael Spaulding, North

    Tyler Speer, North

    Joseph Stankovich, North

    Sjon Stevens, North

    Robert Stevenson, North

    Aaron Stoltz, East

    Steven Stone, North

    Jeffrey Swenson, North

    Jessica Taylor, North

    James Thomsen, SPD Range

    Adolph Torrescano, SPD Range

    Leon Towne, North

    Tomas Trykar, North

    Dale Umpleby, North

    Ariel Vela, North

    Theodore Visaya, East

    Shannon Waldorf, North

    Alfred Warner, East

    Michael Washington, East

    Donald Waters, SPD Range

    Timothy Wear, North

    Terry Whalen, North

    Brian Whicker, North

    David White, North

    Eric Whitehead, North

    Cynthia Whitlatch, East

    Brett Willet, North

    Ron Willis, North

    Curtis Wilson, SPD Range

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