KIRO 7 has obtained documents confirming that Seattle Police Officer Caleb Howard was charged with two counts of assault in Seattle Municipal Court.
The charges stem from a party Howard attended in August 2018.
According to the police report, Howard and his girlfriend, who also is an SPD officer, attended a barbecue thrown by another SPD officer in northeast Seattle. At one point, the host officer and another guest “wrestled in the back yard” – documents stated both have experience in Jiu-Jitsu and self-defense and the officer and guests would often wrestle to practice their skills.
Documents go on to say Howard challenged “the winner,” but instead, the host officer’s 17-year-old son offered to wrestle Howard.
Witnesses said as they wrestled, Howard began “aggressively forcing (his) face into the concrete patio.” Despite the boy’s father asking Howard to stop, court documents say Howard wouldn’t and when the father put his hand on Howard’s shoulder, Howard punched him in the face. After that, police say Howard then strangled the 17-year-old “applying enough pressure to not allow (him) to breath or produce a sound” according to the police report.
The report says Howard continued to threaten people and was then escorted off the property. It also says two days later, photographs taken of the 17-year-old’s injuries showed “bruising consistent with pressure being applied to his neck.” Howard reached out to witnesses apologizing for his behavior and reporting that he “blacked out.”
The report ends by saying Howard’s girlfriend, also an officer, told investigators the assaults did not occur, despite multiple witnesses describing the events in the same way.
In charging documents, Howard listed the SPD West Precinct address as his main point of contact.
KIRO 7 reached out to the department for comment and received this response:
"The Seattle Police Department (SPD) received a complaint of misconduct involving an off-duty employee on September 19, 2018, stemming from an incident that occurred outside the workplace on August 11, 2018," Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said.
"SPD chain of command referred this case to the Office of Police Accountability and launched a separate criminal investigation into the allegations. Once complete, SPD investigators referred the case to prosecutors for consideration of charges.
"The City Attorney’s Office has filed charges and the matter is now before the court.
"The employee in question remains on paid administrative leave while this case proceeds."
KIRO 7 asked the King County Prosecutor’s office why they declined to file a felony charge against the officer. They stated “the injuries sustained by the victim in the incident didn’t constitute a felony assault charge.”
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