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SPD Officer Charged With Assault

Amy Radil
07/08/2011

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has charged a Seattle police officer with fourth–degree assault. Video footage showed the officer, Garth Haynes, stepping on the head of a man in handcuffs after a fight last December. The Police Officers' Guild says there's more to the story, and calls the charges "outrageous." KUOW's Amy Radil reports



TRANSCRIPT

Seattle police officer Garth Haynes was off duty at a Ballard bar last December when he got into a fight with a woman who was trying to take his coat.

According to the Seattle Police Officers' Guild, Officer Haynes, who is black, at that point was jumped by three white men who didn't know the woman. Once the men were handcuffed by on–duty police, Haynes could be seen in the video stepping on one of them before other officers pulled him away.

Sergeant Rich O'Neill is president of Seattle Police Officers' Guild. He says there's an unreleased video of the three white men being transported to jail afterwards.

O'Neill: "The video camera is running and words to the effect of, very racist comment, asking the officer who's driving the police car, what would you do, quote unquote, if you saw a black man touching a white woman?"

O'Neill says that footage doesn't excuse Haynes' actions, but he says the city attorney's decision to prosecute Haynes is politically motivated rather than supported by the facts. O'Neill says the man did not complain of any injury from Haynes.

O'Neill: "I ask the question, we have nothing better to do with our court system than to tie it up on this kind of trial? The officer will be acquitted. There's not going to be a jury that finds a unanimous verdict for someone stepping on another person after they were the victim of a brutal racist attack."

The city attorney charged the officer after the King County Prosecutor's Office declined to do so. The union says Haynes' actions in stepping on the man should have been investigated and resolved internally by SPD's Office of Professional Accountability.

Last month, the City Attorney's Office filed similar assault charges against another officer for kicking a suspect inside a convenience store. Pete Holmes said in a statement that officers must be held accountable for their actions whether on–duty or not. His office declined to be interviewed about the case.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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