SEATTLE — The King County Sheriff’s Office said Undersheriff Patti Cole-Tindall has recommended veteran detective Mike Brown be fired over controversial Facebook posts that an internal investigation found violated department policies.
Brown, who’s been with the sheriff’s office for more than 40 years, most recently assigned to the executive protection detail, has been on leave since July.
The sheriff’s office said it received hundreds of complaints after Brown posted a meme on Facebook in the hours after Summer Taylor and Diaz Love were struck by a driver on I-5 while protesting in Downtown Seattle. Brown posted the comment “Gee…” with the meme that showed people getting hit by a vehicle and read, “All Lives Splatter” and “Get your [expletive] off the road.”
Deputies said Brown then made another post that said, “I see a couple of people got infected with Covid-19 from the hood of a car on I-5 last night.”
The sheriff’s office said the internal investigation reviewed eight posts and comments made by Brown between June and July. The findings released Tuesday by deputies said seven of the posts violated department policies, concluding, “The blow to the department’s integrity was staggering. The damage to your integrity and ability to continue to serve as a law enforcement officer cannot be repaired.”
Deputies said they also reviewed Facebook posts from Brown that appeared to downplay the murder of a Black teen at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest and appeared to endorse the use of lethal police force in unjustified situations.
“I’m glad, don’t get me wrong, but it should not even be debatable,” said attorney Karen Koehler, who’s representing Summer Taylor’s family and other protesters in a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against the city of Seattle and state. “This should be immediate fire, period.”
Koehler told KIRO 7 last month that attorneys would be filing a claim against the King County Sherriff’s Office because of detective Brown’s posts, citing “politicized mockery of Summer’s death.”
“I had to deal with the family that was grieving who had been told as they were in the hospital, their child dying, this was being posted by an officer of the law,” said Koehler. “Just sorrow upon sorrow.”
Findings from the internal investigation showed deputies questioned Brown about the social media posts. When asked about the “All Lives Splatter” meme, Brown reportedly said he does not condone violence against protesters and that, “I think I was looking more ... My perception of it at the time, was that, you go on the freeway at 1:30 in the morning, bad things are going to happen and that’s what I was looking at. Like, ‘Well, if you hadn’t been on the freeway, you would have been okay.’”
When asked about the COVID-19 comment that was made after posting the meme, Brown reportedly said, “That goes into the numbers now with the COVID-19. And how they’re classifying some deaths as COVID-19, when actually they are not.”
The sheriff’s office said detective Brown, who’s the cousin of Governor Jay Inslee, is now entitled to a meeting with the King County Sheriff “to present his position prior to the Sheriff making a final disciplinary decision.”
Deputies said Tuesday they’re still working to schedule the meeting with Brown’s union representatives and that the investigation continues into other KCSO employees who reportedly may have engaged with some of the detective’s social media posts.
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