A Sammamish resident says she was driving in her car in Issaquah when another driver got angry and started swearing at her. When she rolled down her window and told him to "calm down," she said he continued swearing at her and told her to "get out."
Tarul Kode Tripathi is a pharmacist, a mother of two and an Indian American. Tripathi said she was shocked and felt "a feeling of sadness we would have to encounter that kind of hate in our neighborhood."
She was upset by the encounter, but wasn't sure a crime had taken place. When she got back to Sammamish, she saw a couple of Sammamish police officers along East Lake Sammamish Parkway and stopped to talk to them.
She said one of the officers, a Caucasian woman, told her it is important not to make such an incident personal, that it could have happened to anybody.
Tripathi didn't think so. She believes she was told to "get out" because she is not white. She was disappointed with the officers' response and felt dismissed. She would like to see more training and communication for police officers.
The Sammamish Police Department is staffed with deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Cindi West says Tripathi never told the officers the man told her to "get out" during the road rage incident, and even if she had, Sgt. West says that still wouldn't meet the requirements of malicious harassment or a hate crime.
"Never did she say he made comments about her race or religion or anything that would rise to the level of malicious harassment," said Sgt. West.
Sammamish City Manager Howard Lyman issued a statement and plans to read it at tonight's City Council meeting. Lyman says officers were told the profanities did not include any racial or ethnic content and there was no indication a crime had been committed. When they asked if Tripathi wanted to file a police report, she declined.
Lyman said, "The Sammamish police officers involved are well-trained in the arena of cultural sensitivity."
He said investigators think it was likely a road rage incident rather than a racial or ethnic confrontation.
But in his statement, Lyman said, "People with different life experiences and cultural backgrounds can perceive the same incident in different ways."
City leaders plan to meet with Tripathi next month.
Tripathi told KIRO 7 she declined to file a police report because she didn't have the make and model or license plate on the other vehicle.
Cox Media Group