Seattle officer uses selfie to get woman's purse returned

The selfie Seattle Police Officer Eric Michl used to get the woman's purse back. 

A dispute between a Seattle Uber driver and a woman visiting from California woman was resolved early Sunday when a Seattle police officer texted a selfie to get the driver to return with the woman’s purse.

“SPD Officer Eric Michl, a member of the DUI traffic squad, was working on Capitol Hill around 2 a.m. Sunday when a distraught woman approached him near Boylston Avenue and East Pine Street,” Department spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote in a department statement. “The woman told Officer Michl she and a group of friends had taken a ride-share car service to the area, only to later realize she had left her purse and wallet inside the vehicle.”

The woman was flying home that same day and needed her identification. She offered to pay the Uber driver to return. The driver wanted more than the fare to return the purse, police said. The woman’s boyfriend also talked to the driver explaining it was illegal to hold the purse hostage, but the driver ended the conversation with an F-bomb, Officer Eric Michl wrote.

Michl called the driver and got no answer, “so I (sent) him a message to call me or I would track him down and arrest him.” That’s the message that included the selfie.

Michl wrote that the driver quickly “saw the light and agreed to return the purse forthwith and without charge.”

The driver claimed he’d been busy taking other fares, police said.

Michl is known for creative problem-solving.

In 2013, a wanted felon Michl arrested was in risk of losing his dog. He checked with the Seattle Animal Shelter, but they couldn’t hold him while the owner was in custody for months. So Michl found a friend of the suspect’s sister who could take the dog, and on his day off, drove the German Shepherd named Liana nearly three hours to the temporary home.

"I just felt really bad that this dog and her owner would have to be separated," Michl said at the time. "Even though he's in trouble with the law, I felt really bad for him."

In the dog story, Michl said that he hoped after the owner served his time, "he’ll remember that someone cared enough to do this for him and his dog."