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Updated: May 28, 2014

Seattle police officers file civil rights complaint against DOJ monitor, mayor, city attorney



By Casey McNerthney, KIRO 7 STAFF

More than 100 officers with the Seattle Police Department have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the Seattle mayor, city attorney, Department of Justice monitor and U.S. attorney general saying use-of-force policies are unreasonably restricting their Constitutional rights.
 
An attachment to the complaint, filed Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court, names 122 officers.

Specifically, the officers say the use-of-force policies “unreasonably restrict and burden their right to protect themselves and others in violation of the Second, Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution”

KIRO 7 is at Mayor Ed Murray’s office to ask him about the civil rights complaint filed against him. We are also asking City Attorney Pete Holmes about the claim, who was named as a defendant, too.  KIRO 7’s Alison Grande is working to get their responses. She will report live on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News starting at 5 p.m.

‘Officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured’
 
The civil rights complaint said that in some places, the use-of-force policy “is overly complicated and contradictory, in other places overly precise and mechanical,” requiring officers to engage in “mental gymnastics.”
 
“The (use-of-force policies and practices require Plaintiffs to under-react to threats of harm until we have no choice but to overreact,” the complaint reads. “This makes it inevitable – although unnecessary and unreasonable – that officers and citizens will get killed or seriously injured.”
 
The officers say what the city and Seattle police have drafted, “with heavy-handed oversight by (the) DOJ and the Monitor, is a policy that wholly disregards the Court’s clear prioritization of the practical safety issues facing police officers.”
 
The use-of-force policy “induces hesitation because officers are fearful of censure and sanction should their actions, in hindsight, be judged to have violated any of a number of layers of rules and provisions that invite conflicting interpretation.”
 
‘Hesitation to responding to calls for backup’
 
Earlier this month, a report from Seattle police data showed that in the past four years the number of times an officer checked out a suspicious person plummeted 80 percent.
 
“Aside from evidence that officers are hesitating and/or failing to use appropriate and lawfully justified force to address threats safely and effectively, there is evidence of a dramatic decrease in proactive police work to investigate and stop crime,” the complaint reads. “Officers are turning in their Tasers in large numbers – even though such devices provide reasonable and effective tools when facing threatening conduct – because Plantiffs are confused about how and when we can use them to see too great a possibility for unreasonable discipline under the (use-of-force) policy.
 
“Police officers will testify to an insidious new hesitation to responding to calls for backup.”
 
Officers previously have told KIRO 7 that proactive checkes have dropped because of what they believe is excessive paperwork and scrutiny that began after DOJ oversight began. 

The civil rights complaint also said that officers “are now being brought in to headquarters like criminal suspects and subjected to intimidating, non-consensual recorded interviews for conduct that was widely accepted as effective and lawful policing just a few months ago.”

“The real-world effect of the (use-of-force) policy is to induce a reluctance by patrol officers to use appropriate and sufficient use of force to control dangerous suspects,” the civil rights complaint reads. “It effectively creates hesitation and paralysis by analysis that puts officers, suspects and the general public at greater risk of injury or death, as a situation that might have been quelled early on is allowed to spiral to increasingly higher levels of violence because the officer uses too little force too late.”
 
Click here to read a PDF of the full civil rights complaint filed Wednesday afternoon.

History of DOJ investigation
 
In December 2010, the DOJ concluded officers engaged in a pattern and practice of excessive force. The investigation came after more than 30 groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the DOJ to investigate.
 
In the summer of 2012, the DOJ filed a consent decree to address concerns and separately entered into a settlement agreement. The consent decree was modified in U.S. District Court in Sept. 2012.
 
On Sept. 21, the court modified and entered the consent decree. The documents below provide more information about the investigation, the Justice Department's findings, the consent decree and memorandum of understanding, and next steps.

The 122 officers who have joined the civil rights complaint make up roughly seven percent of the approximately 1,800 overall members of the Seattle Police Department.

While the cover sheet of the complaint references a total of 126 officers, the list of names includes only 122. Four names appear to have been removed.

List of 122 officers involved in civil complaint and precinct assignment

Lori Aagard, East

Audi Acuesta, North

Christopher Anderson, North

Jack Bailey, East

Kieran Barton, North

George Baseley, North

Lance Basney, North

Adam Beatty, North

Ryan Beck, North

Steven Berg, North

Donald Bolston, East

Cliff Borjeson, North

Weldon Boyland, North

Robert Brown, North

Robert Burk, North

Ted Cablayan, North

William Campbell, East

Ronald Campbell, East

Louis Chan, North

Clarke Chase, North

Steve Clark, North

Christopher Coles, East

Austin Davis, North

Jason Dewey, North

Salvatore DiTusa, North

Adam Elias, North

Ryan Ellis, North

Randy Ellis, East

Theresa Emerick, North

Jon Emerick, North

Brien Escalante, North

John Farrar, North

Henry Feldman, North

Oscar Gardea, North

Curtis Gerry, SPD Range

Tyler Getts, North

Michael Gonzales, North

Joshua Goodwin, North

Ernest Hall, North

Sean Hamlin, North

Brian Hanson, North

David Harrington, North

Richard Heintz, Southwest

Thomas Heller, North

Randall Higa, North

Bridget Hillan, North

Jason Hoppers, North

Gretchen Hughes, North

Jeffrey Johnson, North

Erik Johnson, North

Timothy Jones, North

Nina Jones, North

Vernon Kelley, North

Ryan Kennard, North

Bryan Kennedy, North

Steve Kim, North

Brian Kokesh, North

Michael Larned, North

Nathan Lemberg, North

Rusty Leslie, North

Joseph Mahar, North

Robert Mahoney, North

AJ Marks, North

Ron Martin, North

Richard McAuliffe, North

William McCowan, North

Christopher Meyers, West

Jeff Mitchell, Nroth

Gilles Montaron, North

Todd Nelson, North

Liliya Nesteruk, North

Derek Norton, North

Leroy Outlaw, North

Tim Owens, North

Jeffrey Page, North

Suzanne Parton, North

Paul Pendergrass, North

Karen Pio, North

Steven Pomper, East

Richard Pruitt, SPD Range

Jonathan Reese, North

Anthony Jones Reynolds, South

Alan Richards, North

Ennis Roberson, North

Shelly San Miguel, North

TJ San Miguel, North

Trent Schroeder, North

Eugene Schubeck, North

Michael Severance, North

Tabitha Sexton, North

A. Sheheen, North

Jose Silva, East

John Smith, North

Michael Spaulding, North

Tyler Speer, North

Joseph Stankovich, North

Sjon Stevens, North

Robert Stevenson, North

Aaron Stoltz, East

Steven Stone, North

Jeffrey Swenson, North

Jessica Taylor, North

James Thomsen, SPD Range

Adolph Torrescano, SPD Range

Leon Towne, North

Tomas Trykar, North

Dale Umpleby, North

Ariel Vela, North

Theodore Visaya, East

Shannon Waldorf, North

Alfred Warner, East

Michael Washington, East

Donald Waters, SPD Range

Timothy Wear, North

Terry Whalen, North

Brian Whicker, North

David White, North

Eric Whitehead, North

Cynthia Whitlatch, East

Brett Willet, North

Ron Willis, North

Curtis Wilson, SPD Range

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