Supreme Court sends Seattle officer case to trial court

SEATTLE — The Washington Supreme Court has declined to decide a case that sought to expose the identities of Seattle police officers who attended events in Washington D.C., on the day of the insurrection.

In a brief order released Wednesday, the justices said they unanimously ruled to send the case back to the trial court “for further proceedings.” The court left in place a restraining order that protects the officers’ identities.

Six officers filed a lawsuit against a list of people who filed public records requests seeking their identities and information about the investigation by the Office of Police Accountability into their activities in the nation’s capital. A judge ordered the release of the names but the officers appealed and secured a temporary restraining order.

The names of two of the officers were released after the investigation found that the officers, who are married, violated the law while in D.C. The oversight agency found that the other four officers did not violate the law or policies. Caitlin and Alexander Everett were fired and the four others continued their legal action to protect their identities, arguing they would face harassment if it was released.

The court heard oral arguments on the case on Nov. 9, where several justices asked whether the officers should expect to maintain their privacy while attending an event that was attended by the president of the United States and drew national media attention.

The justices did not explain their decision to send the case to another court instead of making a ruling.

Neil Fox, a lawyer for one of the people who sought the names, said they will continue to fight for the release of the investigation into the officers’ participation in the “Stop the Steal” demonstration.

“There is still a great public interest in lifting the veil of secrecy from former President Trump’s attempt to interfere with the peaceful transition of power less than a year ago,” Fox said.

“Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order, we will immediately file a motion in the superior court to require these six police officers to reveal their identities if they want to pursue their lawsuit. We hope that the superior court will release to the public these important records without much more delay.”

An email sent to Aric Bomsztyk, the officers’ lawyer, seeking comment was not immediately returned.