With better reporting, new tools, Seattle hate crime totals continue rise — UPDATE

Seattle Police Department officials say an increase in reports of bias crimes on Capitol Hill and across Seattle is actually progress and that more tools are coming to help the LGBTQ community report crimes and hate incidents.

In a report to the City Council public safety committee Wednesday afternoon, Lieutenant Michael Kebba said the rise in reports reflects an increased effort to encourage victims to tell police about bias incidents. “I don’t really see a lot of attack issues,” Kebba said.

Overall, there were 126 reported bias incidents in Seattle in 2014 up from 110 in 2013. In the East Precinct covering Capitol Hill, reports jumped to 34 “malicious harassments,” “crimes with bias elements,” and “bias incidents.”


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Five taken into custody after armed hold-up, beating at 11th/Olive — UPDATE

A group of teens and one possible adult suspect were taken into custody after an early morning armed robbery reported on the eastern edge of Cal Anderson Park.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, at least two victims suffered facial injuries and were robbed near 11th Ave and E Olive St around 12:40 AM Wednesday. Witnesses said as many as eight or nine people could be seen fleeing the area southbound on 11th Ave after the holdup in which at least two guns were brandished.

A witness who heard the melee called 911 bringing police quickly to the scene.

UPDATE: SPD has posted a brief on the incident including details of the reported hold-up:

Several witnesses called 911 around 12:30 AM when they saw a group of teens assaulting a man and woman in Cal Anderson Park. One witness told police an armed teen had a gun pointed at him when approached the melee. The group of juveniles then fled the park before police and medics arrived.

The victims told officers they had been sitting in the park when the group of suspects approached them and offered to sell them drugs. When the victims rebuffed their offer, the juveniles punched and kicked them and pointed a gun at the victims before fleeing with the man’s cell phone.

A group of five males was spotted minutes later a few blocks away walking on Pike at Boylston. Police contacted the group and brought witnesses to the scene to identify the assailants.

Police took five males into custody — four juvenile males and an additional male suspect. Police recovered two guns — one was an air gun, the other was found to be a “real gun,” according to police radio. The five taken into custody were transported to East Precinct. Additional police units were called to the scene following a disturbance involving at least one of the males as the suspects were taken into custody.

UPDATE: Police say all five suspects are teenagers:

Officers found the suspects near Pike St and Harvard Ave and took them into custody. Officers found a handgun on one teen, a BB gun on another and the victim’s stolen cell-phone on a third suspect. Two of the suspects are 13-years-old, the others are 14, 16, and 17.

SPD says all five were booked into King County’s Youth Services Center for investigation of robbery. One of the 13-year-olds was also booked for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Seattle Fire was called to the scene to provide aid for the victims.

Pike/Pine businesses and community groups have voiced concerns about the annual warmer-weather spike in crime that typically plagues the areas around Cal Anderson and the neighborhood’s nightlife district but 2015, so far, has been relatively quiet. East Precinct has rolled out “emphasis patrols” and officials have said they plan to apply tactics used to quell street crime downtown.

Blotter | Armed robbery reported near 12th/Jackson, Madison Valley suspicious death update

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

  • 14th/Jackson armed robbery reported: Police are investigating an armed robbery attempt reported near 12th and Jackson Monday around 5:30 PM in which the young man targeted told police he decided to challenge his would be assailant:Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.36.57 PMThe victim described the interaction to police.Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 3.42.10 PMThere were no arrests.
  • Madison Valley suspicious death update: Authorities have identified the 29-year-old woman in a May 2nd suspicious death inside a Madison Valley home but medical investigators have yet to provide more information on the case including the cause and manner of death. Tuesday afternoon, a SPD spokesperson said the case remains an open and active investigation. Continue reading

Woman identified in Madison Valley suspicious death — UPDATE: Devan Schmidt remembered

The woman whose May 2nd death inside a Madison Valley home is being investigated by Seattle Police has been identified by authorities.

A roommate said Devan Schmidt was found unconscious and unresponsive around 11 AM Saturday, May 2nd inside the house near E Denny Way and 29th Ave E. 911 dispatchers assisted the caller in performing CPR, a Seattle Fire spokesperson tells CHS. Arriving medics ceased CPR and pronounced Schmidt dead.

Seattle Police said they were investigating the death as suspicious and that Crime Scene Investigators and homicide detectives were at the home collecting evidence. There were no reported signs of fatal trauma, according to police radio reports and Seattle Fire.

Friday afternoon, the Medical Examiner said its investigators had not yet determined the manner and cause of the 29-year-old woman’s death.

Schmidt arrived in Seattle late last year after moving from Alaska, according to a friend of the woman who did not want to be identified. She worked as a server in a downtown Seattle comedy bar, according to her Facebook profile.

Friday, police told CHS detectives were still awaiting reports from the Medical Examiner and were continuing to investigate Schmidt’s death.

UPDATE 5/22/2015 10:06 AM: Seattle Police and the Medical Examiner say the investigation into the May 2nd suspicious death remains an open case. Pathologists have not yet announced the manner of the cause of death and nearly three weeks have passed. A representative for the Medical Examiner said it’s not unusual for cases to take as much as six to ten weeks to complete. SPD says their investigation remains open and active.

1012988_10203663623167212_6960263592159199885_n (2)Devan Chanel Schmidt was remembered earlier this month by family in Florida:

Devan Chanel Schmidt, 29, of Seattle, WA , formerly of Anchorage and Girdwood Alaska, Melbourne and Palm Bay FL, Shirland IL., and Madison, WI, died suddenly Saturday, May 2, 2015 at her residence in Seattle, WA.

Born in Madison, WI, Devan is survived by mother Pamela Schmidt, sister Lia Kendall, and two brothers Sylas and Nick. Devan was a resident of Madison, WI until the eighth grade when she moved to Illinois where she lived until the age of sixteen. At sixteen along with her mother Pam, and sister Lia, she moved to Palm Bay, FL, where she graduated from high school in 2004. In the year 2008 she attended Brevard Community College where she pursued a degree in Associates of Science until 2010.

According to her obituary, Schmidt was once crowned Miss Shirland, Illinois and was described as a minimalist and an optimist. “A bright light in the darkest of rooms she will be remembered with a smile on her face.”

25 scenes of May Day 2015 from the CHS Flickr Pool

As Seattle searches its soul a week after yet another May Day night of clashes between protesters and police on Capitol Hill, here are a few more views from the streets via the CHS Flickr Pool. CHS’s report on the actions of protesters and SPD is here and you can find our live reporting of May Day 2015 here. Earlier this week, we reported on charges filed against some of those arrested and criticism of SPD’s heavy-handed response. Following the critical session in front of the Seattle City Council, SPD responded to the criticism with its own timeline of the May Day incidents. The final tallies only tell part of the story: 16 arrested, 10 charged, nine reported police force injuries, windows busted at a QFC, Urban Outfitters, and the Harvard Exit — a night of pepper spray clouds, “blast ball” welts, and incessant helicopter buzz over Capitol Hill.

Last Saturday morning as the few reported broken windows and graffiti tags were still being cleaned up, Mayor Ed Murray met with representatives from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and talked about how to bring an end to the cycle of May Day violence in the neighborhood while continuing the history of Pine and Broadway as a place where freedom of speech is protected and often exercised.  “The neighborhood needs to attempt to take this back,” Murray told the group. A week later, it’s not any more clear about how that might happen.


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At least eight charged in May Day protest turned ‘riot’ on Capitol Hill, SPD to brief City Council — UPDATE

IMG_4308At least eight people have been charged with crimes related to the May Day protest last week that Seattle Police say turned into a “riot” on Capitol Hill. Of the 16 total that were arrested, only four were from Seattle.

Three males and one female, ages ranging from 19-24, were arrested for felony assault, though no charges were filed in the arrests as of Wednesday afternoon. Charges are expected to be filed in at least two of the cases, according to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, while the other two cases have not yet been referred to prosecutors.

Eight other male suspects all pleaded not guilty to charges in municipal court, mostly for obstruction. No arrests were made this year for property destruction, though several vehicles — including a much-photographed KIRO radio news jeep — were damaged and tagging and broken windows were reported up and down Broadway.

Gary Tonks, 24, pleaded not guilty to an illegal weapons possession charge and is being held on $15,000 bail. Brendan McCormack, 28, pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment and is being held on $30,000 bail.

UPDATE 4:30 PM: “Idiotic.” That’s how council member Bruce Harrell described to two SPD officials the way officers handled the first May Day arrest that appeared to spark a burst of mayhem on Capitol Hill.

The incident on Broadway, which was captured on video from a TV news helicopter overhead, appears to show an officer on a bicycle ramming the back of a protestor in the anti-capitalist march, then taking the suspect to the ground.

Captain Chris Fowler, who was giving a May Day debriefing to Harrell and the Council’s public safety committee Wednesday, said the arresting officer had probable cause that the man assaulted an officer minutes before the arrest. Still, Harrell questioned the decision to arrest the suspect at that moment.

“If we had intel that one person assaulted an officer, and that person was not fleeing, we could have avoided using all these devices,” Harrell said. The suspect in the video, Adrien Roques, 32, pleaded not guilty to assaulting an officer with a traffic cone.

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Police investigating after woman found dead in Madison Valley home

(Image: @AmeliaMayHodgen via Twitter)

(Image: @AmeliaMayHodgen via Twitter)

Seattle Police homicide detectives are investigating after a 29-year-old woman was found dead Saturday morning inside the Madison Valley home she shared with roommates.

Seattle Fire was called to the house near E Denny Way and 29th Ave E around 11 AM Saturday after a roommate reported finding the woman, according to radio dispatches. Efforts to revive the woman were not successful and she was declared dead at the scene.

Saturday afternoon, SPD said it was investigating the death. “Crime Scene Investigators and Homicide detectives are on scene collecting evidence,” the brief on the investigation said.

The woman has not yet been identified publicly by authorities.

The house is owned by real estate investors and, according to police radio reports, is home to multiple roommates. There were no obvious signs of fatal trauma and no arrests have been announced.

UPDATE 5/4/2015 3:25 PM: The Medical Examiner will not release information on the case today, according information provided to the media.

Seattle May Day 2015 turns into a riot on Capitol Hill

IMG_4329IMG_4330 IMG_4331 IMG_4332 IMG_4333 IMG_4334 IMG_4335 IMG_4336 IMG_4337There were 16 reported arrests and numerous injuries including three police officers sent to the hospital Friday night as clashes between protesters and police were concentrated on the streets of Capitol Hill for the third May Day in a row.

“This is no longer demonstration management, this has turned into a riot,” a voice crackled from command across the Seattle Police tactical radio channel. SPD later identified the speaker as Capt. Chris Fowler who again headed up the department’s May Day response this year.

CHS reported on the events as they happened — including drone sightings, a man stuck on a basketball hoop, and pictures of people taking Capitol Hill riot selfies. You can view the May Day 2015 on Capitol Hill timeline and reports here.

IMG_4209 IMG_3969 IMG_4238Again, an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 people took to the streets from Judkins Park to downtown in the annual pro-worker and immigration rights march and a Black Lives Matter rally in a peaceful demonstration.

And again in 2015, the violence and mayhem of May Day in Seattle was shoved back into Capitol Hill neighborhoods as police blocked the “anti-capitalist” and “anti-police” crowds that gathered at Broadway and Pine later that night from streaming into downtown with strong lines of armor-plated officers who deployed pepper spray, “less lethal” projectiles, and so many flash bangs that the efforts in East Precinct had to be re-supplied. Continue reading

Blotter | Central District shootout arrest, Cal Anderson ‘washboard’ band robbery

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

  • MLK/Jeff gunfire arrest: SPD arrested one male suspect and impounded an SUV after reported gunfire near MLK and Jefferson involving at least two vehicles Monday afternoon around 2 PM. There were no reported injuries. SPD stopped one vehicle but found found no gun, casings, or damage, according to East Precinct radio dispatches. Witnesses who said they saw the vehicles involved in the shootout helped identify the suspect taken into custody.
  • 18th Ave robbery: A woman reported she was robbed at gunpoint inside her 18th Ave garage Monday morning. Police were called to a home on 18th Ave near E Union around 10:45 AM. The victim told police the suspect entered the garage and robbed her of her purse and car keys. The woman told police the man was armed with a black handgun. The suspect was described as an Asian male in his 30s, wearing a black hoodie and light pants. He was also reportedly carrying a black folder and asked the woman for directions to Harborview before fleeing southbound on 18th Ave. There were no immediate arrests.
  • Cal Anderson ‘washboard’ band robbery: The SPD report on this 6 PM, April 8th robbery in Cal Anderson Park is, sadly, a Capitol Hill classic
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Discrimination lawsuit filed in 2014 Pike/Pine golf club arrest

Wingate at a February march to protest his arrest (Image: CHS)

Wingate at a February march to protest his arrest (Image: CHS)

A situation that started with a summer 2014 arrest at 12th and Pike that SPD eventually was forced to apologize for — and to return the wrongly accused man’s golf club —  has landed in the courts. Lawyers for William Wingate have filed a lawsuit alleging that the 70-year-old was targeted and had his rights violated by a racist East Precinct cop.

“Because of the defendants’ wrongful acts described above, the plaintiff has suffered substantial humiliation, mental and emotional distress, and other damages to be proved at trial,” the nine-page complaint filed in King County Superior Court last week reads. The full complaint is below.

Wingate was arrested in July 2014 at 12th and Pike after SPD officer Cynthia Witlatch said she was threatened by Wingate who carries a golf club with him as a walking cane.

“Only thing I can say is this: I didn’t do nothing,” Wingate told a crowd that joined him in a protest march earlier this year.

In the filing naming SPD and the officer as defendants, lawyer Susan Mindenbergs said that her client’s “encounter with Officer Whitlach and his subsequent arrest and incarceration have caused him severe emotional distress.”

“Since his arrest, Mr. Wingate has been treated for post-traumatic stress and depression,” the complaint states. “He is now fearful of police officers he does not know but whom he encounters in public or at community events.”

The suit also alleges Whitlatch has used racist language and “used her personal Facebook social media page, available to the public, to make racially derogatory comments about African Americans, specifically African American men.”

The Stranger reports that the Office of Professional Accountability investigation of officer Whitlatch’s actions won’t be complete until May or early June.

The lawsuit comes as SPD continues to work to address the Department of Justice consent decree and in the midst of ongoing issues of race and use of police force across the nation. An eight-month DOJ investigation of Seattle policing released in winter 2011 revealed troubling findings about the department’s use of force. The DOJ filed a consent decree and negotiated a plan with SPD to overhaul the department.

The full complaint is below. The City Attorney has not yet responded to the lawsuit. Continue reading