With SPD’s use of force in MLK Day protest ‘under review,’ Garfield High teacher suing city

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.39.48 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 9.38.50 AMGarfield High School teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian says he is suing the city after a Seattle Police officer hit him with pepper spray during a protest following this year’s MLK Day march and rallies earlier this month:

The James Bible Law Group will be filing a tort claim against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department in relation to the senseless pepper spraying of a prominent Seattle School Teacher and activist shortly after his MLK day speech.  Jesse Hagopian had finished giving a powerful speech about how black lives matter when he was sprayed with pepper spray by a Seattle Police Officer.  He was on the phone with his mother and make plans to be at his two year old child’s birthday party when he was sprayed.  It is notable that this irrational police action occurred while he was several feet onto a Seattle Sidewalk.

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‘SPD returns man’s golf club’ — Police video shows disturbing 2014 arrest at 12/Pike

SPD's report on the situation puts on a happier face: "SPD Commanders first became aware of the incident in October 2014 after receiving an inquiry from former Washington State Representative Dawn Mason in which she raised questions as to the necessity of the arrest and charges. The 69-year-old man had already accepted a plea offer in this case. Dawn Mason worked with Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Deputy Chief Carmen Best to broker an organized discussion between residents and police about this case specifically as well as the relationship between the department and the community in general."
SPD’s report on the July 2014 incident puts on a happier face: “SPD Commanders first became aware of the incident in October 2014 after receiving an inquiry from former Washington State Representative Dawn Mason in which she raised questions as to the necessity of the arrest and charges. The 69-year-old man had already accepted a plea offer in this case.
Dawn Mason worked with Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Deputy Chief Carmen Best to broker an organized discussion between residents and police about this case specifically as well as the relationship between the department and the community in general.”

Tuesday, in advance of “a media outlet” reporting on video released “as a result of a public disclosure request,” SPD posted this update its Blotter blog with a line you don’t see every day in police announcements: “Deputy Chief Best personally met with the man, returned his golf club, and offered an apology for his arrest.”

Wednesday, The Stranger’s Ansel Herz reported on this video of Officer Cynthia Whitlach’s July 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike of William Wingate, a black, 70-year-old veteran who happens to take very long walks while carrying a golf club as a kind of multi-purpose walking stick:

On the video, Officer Whitlach can be heard insisting that the recording would show Wingate swinging his golf club at her and hitting a stop sign with it. According to the SPD, there exists no video to back up this claim. (SPD did not make Whitlach available for comment.)

“The allegation that he swung at the police car,” said city council member Bruce Harrell, who subsequently got involved in the case, “wasn’t corroborated by any other facts and was not caught on any video. What was caught on video was him minding his own business with the golf club at his side.”

Whitlach, standing behind her car, shouts at Wingate to drop his golf club 17 times, and claims that “it is a weapon.”

“You just swung that golf club at me,” Whitlach yells.

“No, I did not!” exclaims Wingate.

“Right back there,” Whitlach says back. “It was on audio and video tape.”

Wingate ended up in jail and charged with unlawful use of a weapon for the incident on the same block as East Precinct’s 12th and Pine headquarters. According to muni court records, he agreed to a conditional continuance. In September, a judge dismissed the case at the “satisfactory completion” of the agreement. Continue reading

Blotter | Hill bar burned by utility scam, 27/Yesler shooting, hate crime arrest

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Bar rip-off: A Capitol Hill bar was nailed for $1,500 earlier this month in a recurring scam Seattle City Light has been trying to warn customers about. Here’s how the ruse played out:
    Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 11.41.41 AM“In retrospect it all falls apart (online billing records show no such balance, the phone number itself doesn’t show on Seattle City Lights website, etc) but it was so scary to imagine losing our ability to operate, staff losing hours, etc that we went into a blind panic,” the victim of the scam tells CHS. She said the timing of the call was unfortunately perfect with her fears about the prospect about being closed for a three-day weekend overwhelming her sense. She says the hope for nailing these bad guys is slim but that there’s a chance insurance can help them recoup the lost cash. Continue reading

911 | E Madison parking garage mugging, 19th/Alder fire

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • 22/Madison robbery: Seattle Police searched for the suspect in a reported strong-arm robbery inside the parking garage below The Summit apartment building at 22nd and Madison Friday night. We’re told the victim was a driver for a Capitol Hill pizza joint. According to police dispatch radio, the suspect took the driver’s keys, phone, and wallet in the robbery reported just after 11 PM on the lower level of the garage below the apartments and Safeway. The suspect was described as a black male in his 20s, wearing a Seahawks beanie, black jacket, and jeans. The suspect did not brandish a weapon in the incident. One local business owner sent out a Tweet overnight saying a Hot Mama’s driver had been robbed. We’ll see if we can confirm that this is part of the same incident. There were no reported injuries.
  • 19/Alder fire: Seattle Fire is investigating after an early Saturday morning garage fire that damaged a two-story house near 19th and Alder. Heavy smoke and flames were reported coming from the structure just before 5:30 AM as occupants attempted to put out the blaze with water. All occupants were reported to have made it safely out of the house as SFD initiated its response and brought the fire under control around 20 minutes later. The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. Red Cross was called in to help provide assistance to the residents. There were no reported injuries.

Blotter | Gunpoint robbery in Cal Anderson, no victims in Central District drive-by

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Cal Anderson armed robbery: A victim told police the suspect in a gunpoint robbery inside Cal Anderson Park late Thursday night was apparently a hometown sports fan. According to the victim in the hold-up reported just after 11:30 PM near the park’s fountain, the suspect was a Hispanic male wearing a Mariners jacket and Mariners beanie and was carrying an orange drawstring bag as he tucked a pistol back into this waistband and fled the scene with an accomplice after the robbery. Police searched the area for the men last seen headed south on Nagle but no arrests were made. Community groups and the Capitol Hill Chamber are continuing to work on a plan to request funds for improved lighting in the park to quell ongoing robberies and assaults.
  • Midtown Center drive-by: Police were searching for suspect vehicles after a second night of gunfire around 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center. Thursday night just after 8:30 PM, police swarmed the area after reports of shots fired by a passenger in the backseat of a black Toyota Corolla. There were no reported injuries and it wasn’t clear who or what had been targeted in the incident. There were no arrests. SPD asked witnesses to call 911 with information. Tuesday night, a bullet is believed to have traveled more than a half-mile before landing in the door of a third-floor apartment unit north of a shooting incident reported near the center. There were no injuries reported in that altercation and there were also no arrests.
  • Shots fired stats: SPD released its most recent SeaStat report including a review of shots fire across the city in 2014. SPD says reported gunfire incidents jumped more than 20% compared to 2013:Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 12.16.37 PM

Bullet reportedly smashes into apartment following 24/Spring shots fired incident… a half-mile away

Seattle Police are investigating whether a bullet that ended up in the wall of an apartment unit more than a half-mile from the scene is related to a wild shots fired incident Tuesday night in the Central District.

All information in this post is preliminary and has not yet been confirmed with SPD.

According to East Precinct radio reports, around 5:30 PM, police were called to the area around 24th and E Spring after a report of multiple shots fired in a street altercation involving at least one man on foot and vehicles seen fleeing the area. No victim or suspects were found but police were following up on multiple witness accounts.

Minutes later, a caller reported that a bullet had smashed through her window into the wall a door of her third floor 23rd Ave E apartment more than a half-mile from the shots fired scene.

Some witnesses described the gunman in the 24th and Spring incident as shooting wildly toward the north.

SPD is investigating both incidents.

There were no injuries reported at either location.

UPDATE 1:00 PM: SPD’s report on the incidents provides some new information in addition to confirming our earlier report — though it’s still not known with certainty that the bullet that struck the apartment was related to the relatively distant shooting scene. But it seems more than likely.

One witness told police she saw “a black male standing on the sidewalk, pointing a pistol northbound down the street” during the shooting at 24th and Spring. Another witness who said she ducked behind vehicles during the shooting said she saw a white male running from the area of the shooter.

At the apartment in the 200 block of 23rd Ave E, police say they found a bullet and damage “consistent with a downward trajectory” —

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Trial in 2009 murder of East Precinct officer begins



The trial of the accused cop killer who faces the death penalty after he allegedly opened fire on two East Precinct officers on Halloween night 2009 and killed veteran officer Timothy Brenton began Tuesday morning.

Accused killer Christopher Monfort faces the death penalty for the killing prosecutors say was part of a two-week campaign of violence against police officers. A week before the killing, police say Monfort set off explosive devices and set three police cars on fire at a maintenance yard.

Halloween night, Brenton was shot as he sat in his patrol car on Halloween night near 29th and Yesler. Officer Britt Sweeney was wounded in the attack but survived. Monfort also faces an attempted first-degree murder charge for allegedly shooting Sweeney.

Sweeney, a trainee at the time and on the force for about seven months, was able to make a radio call reporting “shots fired” and exit the vehicle to return fire, striking the suspect vehicle several times as it drove away.

Prosecutors say Monfort, 41 at the time of the attack, had written a manifesto against police brutality before the shooting.

"Christopher Monfort targeted two Seattle police officers for assassination in 2009 'solely because they were police officers,' a prosecutor said Tuesday morning during the opening statements in Christopher Monfort’s trial," The Seattle times reports (Image: Seattle Times)

“Christopher Monfort targeted two Seattle police officers for assassination in 2009 ‘solely because they were police officers,’ a prosecutor said Tuesday morning during the opening statements in Christopher Monfort’s trial,” The Seattle times reports (Image: Seattle Times)

In November 2014, CHS visited the community memorial at the site of the shooting on the fifth anniversary of Brenton’s murder. Brenton was 39. He was survived by his wife Lisa and two children.

In 2009, a procession of police cars filled Broadway the day following the murder as Brenton’s body was taken to Bonney Watson Funeral Home. A massive search for the killer included images of the suspect vehicle and a suspect description full of fears of domestic terrorism. Six days later, just as a memorial service for Brenton at Key Area concluded, police moved in on a suspect traced to Tukwila. Monfort was shot by police during his arrest and paralyzed from the waist down.

In 2013, a judge ruled Monfort could not face the death penalty because county prosecutor Dan Satterberg’s office had “failed to exercise the discretion it is statuatorily and constitutionally obliged to exercise.” That decision was later reversed. Early in 2014, Governor Jay Inslee instituted a moratorium on all executions in the state.

Satterberg office continues to pursue a capital case against the defendant. Meanwhile, Monfort’s lawyers must prove he was insane by a preponderance of the evidence.

To better patrol growing Pike/Pine, SPD’s East Precinct to drop Eastlake and add First Hill

After tabling the issue for years, the Seattle Police Department is reconfiguring the way officers patrol Capitol Hill and other central Seattle neighborhoods. Plans expected to go into effect this month would redraw police precinct boundaries to keep officers from having to routinely cross I-5 to respond to calls, CHS has learned. In the Capitol Hill-headquarted East Precinct, it means a swapping out coverage of Eastlake for First Hill.

The new East Precinct lines will also mean more officers patrolling in closer proximity to Capitol Hill’s nightlife corridors. Last year, a spike in Capitol Hill street robberies and assaults prompted Chief Kathleen O’Toole to emphasis patrols to crackdown on nightlife violence. O’Toole announced that SPD gang unit personnel would increase patrols in Pike/Pine and around Cal Anderson Park to help root out reported issues with gangs of young males. In the weeks following, SPD brass claimed a dramatic reduction in crime in the area. Continue reading

Blotter | E Pike club stabbing, Broadway phone grab and beating, car prowl data

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • E Pike stabbing: A male victim suffered a three to four-inch knife wound in a fight outside a Pike/Pine club last Saturday around 1:00 AM. Staff at a First Hill medical facility reported the incident to police after the victim arrived for treatment. Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 11.01.39 AMThe report notes the victim was reluctant to report the incident and declined to provide specifics of the assault. Police say they responded that night to a fight disturbance at a club in the 900 block of E Pike. The case is currently not being investigated.
  • Man beaten in Broadway phone grab: A man suffered beating after reportedly being attacked for his phone at E Pine and Broadway early Saturday around 3 AM.
    Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 10.58.07 AM Continue reading

Former treasurer charged in Volunteer Park Conservatory embezzlement



If you know former Friends of the Volunteer Park Conservatory treasurer Dan Celler, let him know he needs to be in King County Superior Court Thursday morning. You can also tell him he’s been charged with nine counts of second degree theft for the more than $90,000 police say he stole from the nonprofit organization that cares for the Volunteer Park facility.

According to court documents, the criminal proceedings against Celler have finally come to a head. CHS reported in October 2013 on the civil suit against Celler brought by the Friends group. That August, a King County Superior Court judge issued a default judgement after Celler failed to appear in court.

The criminal charges follow an investigation by the Seattle Police Department that began in the summer of 2013:

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The charging documents confirm CHS’s earlier report that Celler made a few payments on the money owed and then vanished:

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 5.17.48 PM

According to police, Celler’s last known Seattle address was on 18th Ave E. The list of alleged improper purchases and transactions documented in the investigation — except for the occasional $1,000+ wire transfers and withdrawals — looks like the spending of a typical Capitol Hill 30-something with stops including the old Bagel Deli, Cafe Ladro, Club Z and several Zipcar transactions.

Celler is not currently in custody and a summons has been issued requiring his appearance at the hearing later this week. According to an update to his Facebook profile, the 36-year-old claims he was recently studying massage at the Soma Institute in Chicago.

In October, the former director of a Capitol Hill school program was sentenced to 17 months in prison and ordered to pay $82,000 in restitution for embezzling thousands of dollars from the program.

Police investigating after man shot in leg near 23rd and Cherry

Police are investigating a shooting at 22nd and E Cherry late Thursday night that injured a 20-year-old man. Police were called to Swedish Cherry Hill just before midnight where staff told them the victim had been dropped off minutes earlier. A search for the suspect vehicle spread out across the area from 23rd and Cherry following the call but there were no arrests.

Man Shot In Calf Thursday Night
Written by Detective Patrick Michaud on January 9, 2015 10:27 am
A 20-year-old man was shot while walking through the Central District on Thursday night.
The victim was walking near 22 Avenue and East Cherry Street at 11:45 pm when he noticed a dark colored sedan following him. A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt got out of the car and started shooting at him. One bullet hit his leg. The victim still managed to run to a nearby gas station and dive into an occupied car. He pleaded for the driver to take him to a hospital.

The victim was dropped off at Swedish Cherry Hill Hospital with a single gunshot wound to the leg.

Officers responded to the scene and located shell casings that were place into evidence.
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call 911 and speak with officers.

Group says robbed at gunpoint south of Seattle U

(Source: data.seattle.gov)

2014’s monthly totals — and August’s big spike (Source: data.seattle.gov)

A group was robbed at gunpoint by four assailants — each reportedly armed —  Wednesday night in an alley south of the Seattle U campus.

All details in the incident are preliminary and have not yet been confirmed by SPD.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, a K9 unit searched the area after a group reported that four young, black males armed with what appeared to be handguns held them up in an alley in the 400 block of 11th Ave. There were no arrests. A purse stolen from the victims was found nearby.

The hold-up continues a trend of robberies in the East Precinct beats covering Capitol Hill and nearby neighborhoods that saw nearly 20 hold-ups, muggings, and phone grabs per month – including a disturbing August spike — in 2014.

Central District serial burglary suspect busted after business owner catches him in the act

The man arrested early Wednesday is believed to be the same suspect plaguing the area with break-ins. KIRO reported on one business owners efforts to nab the burglar in December

The man arrested early Wednesday is believed to be the same suspect plaguing the area with break-ins. KIRO reported on one business owners efforts to nab the burglar in December

A man believed to be the serial burglar plaguing Central District businesses along E Union was caught in the act early Wednesday morning and taken into custody by police.

A business owner from the commercial cluster around 22nd Ave and E Union tells CHS he was calling 911 about yet another break-in at an area business Wednesday around 1 AM when the suspect casually strolled out of his latest target:

When I was peering in at the break there was shuffling inside so I called 911 right away. While on the phone with the dispatcher, the door opened and he walked right past me with a full pack. He ducked between a couple of houses and a bunch of patrol cars arrived about a couple minutes later. They found him at 22nd & Union carrying cameras from the shop. Apparently he has also broken into Hollow Earth Radio and had been packing up audio gear into a suitcase. We were there til about 2:15 giving statements and screwing the window shut etc. So glad he was actually caught because he has been in and out of everybody’s places so much lately. We had kicked him out of the cinema several times for hanging around at weird times and poking into drawers etc. This was the 2nd time he had hit Rare Medium and Hollow Earth.

Business owners believe the man is the same suspect involved in this Madrona burglary. Police took the suspect into custody in December but he has apparently been back in action in the area. We’re asking SPD for more information on the suspect and will follow up with more on any possible charges.

Blotter | $10,000 in cash reported lost in worst Broadway car prowl… ever

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

Don’t worry — it’s not a crime explosion on Capitol Hill. It’s been a long holiday so we’re emptying out the blotter box!

  • Worst Broadway car prowl ever: In late 2014, CHS noted the upswell in car prowls and auto theft around Capitol Hill and SPD has identified the neighborhood hot spots to watch out for. But the information won’t help one extremely unlucky victim who says she lost $10,000 in cash in a December 23rd car prowl in the parking lot at Broadway’s Dick’s Drive-In. According to the SPD report on the incident, the victim is a US ex-pat who was preparing to return to Europe with $10,000 in cash she had withdrawn from her bank. Police were told the 38-year-old victim and her friend parked their SUV at Dick’s around 2:30 PM on the Tuesday before Christmas so they could run into the nearby post office. By the time they got back to the vehicle 17 minutes later, a bag containing the cash and $4,000 in Apple products was gone. Police were unable to find surveillance video of the incident.
  • New Year’s Day hold-ups: The victims in an armed robbery just hours into 2015 told police they were held up by a group of three males, one armed with a handgun in a 2:49 AM incident near 20th and Alder. There were no injuries in the incident. A K9 unit was searching for the group of three including the armed robber reported as a black male, approximately 25, slender, and wearing a dark sweatshirt with large white lettering. There were no arrests. Meanwhile, police were called to a assault and reported robbery of a cab driver at 18th and Prospect New Year’s Day around 3:20 AM. According to reports, the driver said his rider attacked him without paying and may have cut him with an unknown weapon in the altercation. The suspect described as a white male in his 20s, around 5’5″ and with a dark scarf, and dark coat, was not found by police after a search of the area. Continue reading

Yancy Noll killer sentenced to 29 years in prison


Thomasdinh Bowman sobbed through much of the hour-long hearing (Photo: Bryan Cohen)

In an emotion filled courtroom, a King County judge Friday afternoon sentenced Thomasdinh Bowman to 29 years in prison for murdering Capitol Hill QFC wine steward Yancy Noll in 2012. Judge Bruce Heller said Bowman, 32, “showed an utter detachment from the terror he caused” and displayed an “extreme lack of empathy for another human being.” Heller noted that Bowman had no prior criminal record and the shooting appeared to be out of character, but the judge was not convinced Bowman acted out of self-defense.

Bowman faced a maximum 32-year sentence for the murder under state sentencing guidelines. Sobbing through much of the hour-long hearing, Bowman asked the judge for mercy in a brief statement he gave before the sentence was delivered.

“I pray for the friends and family of Mr. Noll… that they’re able to find some closure in this horrible chapter of their lives,” Bowman said. “I’m disappointed that the jurors didn’t believe me.”

Defense attorney John Henry Browne said Bowman was sorry for what he had done, and that Bowman expressed his remorse when he attempted to commit suicide by slitting his wrist in jail the day he was found guilty.

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