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

One man dies, two other victims to hospital in drug overdose at Cal Anderson

One man died and another was in critical condition Sunday night after Seattle Fire and SPD responded to three people suffering heroin overdoses on the sports field at Cal Anderson Park. UPDATE: SFD says the female may have been suffering a medical issue “not related to the overdose.” 

SFD’s Aid 25 unit was called to the Bobby Morris Playfield around 5:20 PM to a report of a female suffering an apparent seizure. The crew arrived to find the female and two other males suffering a drug overdose. Additional SFD units arrived and began CPR on the field in the middle of a busy night in Pike/Pine and as a baseball game continued on the diamond nearby.

Seattle Fire reported that one male died at the scene following 20 minutes of CPR while another male was transported to Harborview in critical condition. The female victim was also transported to the hospital in reported stable condition.

According to Seattle Police, the three victims suffered heroin overdoses. The incident is being investigated. UPDATE:  “Three individuals who know me contacted me and said that from their understanding ‘there was some bad meth going around,'” an officer’s report on the incident reads. The officer writes that SFD responders at the scene said the three victims were “under the influence of heroin” but police found no drug paraphernalia. “It is unknown if subjects had mixed the two drugs,” the officer writes. According to the report, SPD was able to identify the dead man from a medical bracelet he was wearing.

Last week, SPD announced the early results of its “9 1/2 Block” effort to combat an “open air drug market” in downtown Seattle. East Precinct and city officials have said that the area around Cal Anderson has also been identified as another of Seattle’s “drug market” areas and that patrol and investigative efforts would also be brought to bear around the popular Capitol Hill open space.


How Pike/Pine can copy Portland’s nightlife pedestrian-only zone

Why not every weekend? (Image: timdurkan via Flickr)

Why not every weekend? (Image: timdurkan via Flickr)

While East Precinct’s new commander — literally — wrestles with getting Pike/Pine nightlife crime under control, and SPD and the FBI crack down on identified “open air drug markets” including the streets around Cal Anderson, a smaller effort underway to assemble a plan to make the neighborhood a safer place on crowded weekends can look to our neighbors to the south for an example of the initiative in action.

In March, CHS reported on funding for a study to sort out how to create a pedestrian-only zone in the middle of the Pike/Pine nightlife district. The Seattle Police Department sees the project as a promising way to better manage the late-night clash of cars and hordes of people streaming out of bars, officials say.

So how might it work? Here’s a recent message from the Portland Police Department:

entertainment_districtmapHere’s how the PPD explains the zone:

In December 2012, Mayor Sam Adams began a pilot program to address safety issues in Portland’s Entertainment District–an area within Old Town. Since that time, City Council has voted to continue this program, where on Friday and Saturday nights, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., police close roads in this district, creating a pedestrian-only zone.

This area attracts large crowds of people to area nightclubs and bars.  The safety issues prior to the closure included large crowds packing the sidewalks and spilling over into the streets.  Police also were responding to calls of intoxicated people stepping out into traffic, urinating and other issues.  Since the closures, the Entertainment District has since seen a significant drop in offenses and criminal cases.

Mayor Hales has conducted town hall meetings and has formed a Stakeholders Advisory Council to address issues affected by the closures.

This map shows the regular boundaries affected by the closures; police have the authority to alter these boundaries and the time frame as needed.

Would the same strategy help around E Pike? Judging by the weekend blotter items in our crime coverage, it seems unlikely to hurt.

UPDATE: Another component to consider in all of this is where best to stage taxi and car services. SDOT has plans to install 10 new car stands this year and is looking for feedback. The deadline was reportedly April 20th but drop a line if you’re so inclined.


SPD rolls out ‘Micro Community Policing Plans’ — UPDATE: Downtown operations a sign of things to come in Pike/Pine

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.50.11 PMThe Seattle Police Department is pushing the city’s neighborhood watches — keeping eyes on everything from suspicious magazine sales teams to car prowls and most everything in between — online. In a partnership with privately held social media network Nextdoor, SPD is dividing its precincts into 55 “micro communities” and promising specific public safety plans and updates for neighbors:

Micro Community Policing Plans (MCPP) take a unique three-pronged approach to fighting crime in Seattle’s neighborhoods.

  • Maintaining accurate and timely data that is relentlessly followed-up on.
  • Working directly with the community to ensure that we are meeting their priorities.
  • Partnering with Seattle University to conduct independent review to refine our approach. Continue reading

Blotter | Police investigate Nagle Place beating — Plus, Seattle U bomb threat arrest

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

  • Nagle beating: Police had just left the scene when the assailants in an early morning assault returned and beat and robbed their victim Thursday on Nagle Place, according to the SPD report on the incident and East Precinct radio dispatches.The victim in the April 16th attack around 1 AM on the street just off Cal Anderson Park suffered a head injury, cuts, and bruises in the attack that started as a seeming one-sided dispute outside the Rock Box:

    Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 10.49.47 AM

    Officers responding to the initial fight disturbance contacted the victim as the reported assailants fled the scene. The victim and two friends were walking to a nearby vehicle when the group and the main assailant returned. “You better keep walking,” the male in the gray shirt reportedly yelled. According to the police report, the victim stopped and asked, “What is your problem?” as the group punched and pushed the victim to the ground. After stealing the victim’s phone and doing $280 in damage to a business’s sign, the group fled the area southbound on 11th Ave. Continue reading

East Precinct’s new commander takes on Pike/Pine crime

Capt. Paul McDonagh in what we *think* was his first public appearance as the new East Precinct commander Friday morning (Image: CHS)

Capt. Paul McDonagh, speaking, in what we *think* was his first public appearance as the new East Precinct commander Friday morning (Image: CHS)

In a Friday morning meeting with business owners from Pike/Pine’s biggest clubs to its smallest and with representatives from retailers like Elliott Bay Book Company and local real estate development companies, East Precinct’s new commander Capt. Paul McDonagh addressed concerns that not enough is being done to police Seattle’s current busiest nightlife and entertainment district.

McDonagh, newly returned to the post he helmed for two and a half years starting in 2009, told the business owners and representatives that increased patrols are already underway and that detective work and investigations are already making a difference. “You’re not going to see officers on every block,” McDonagh said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not working.”

The meeting came after a letter to city officials and the mayor from more than 40 Pike/Pine businesses in March calling for more cops to patrol the booming neighborhood. “Capitol Hill has a quickly increasing number of residents and people visiting it,” one portion of the letter said. “This increase needs to be met with an increased budget for policing and social services.”

According to details discussed at Friday’s meeting, six to eight officers are typically on patrol at any given time. Emphasis patrols essentially double the police force on the streets. “There will be nights where I put even more out,” McDonagh said. Continue reading

Blotter | Driver reportedly flees after hitting pedestrians outside First Hill McDonald’s — Plus, Seattle U threat

(Image: @alanwaite via Twitter)

(Image: @alanwaite via Twitter)

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

  • Madison hit and run: Police were searching for a driver who reportedly left the scene of a morning car vs. pedestrian collision near the First Hill McDonald’s involving multiple victims, one with reported serious injuries. A driver struck at least two pedestrians outside the First Hill McDonalds Friday morning, according to police radio traffic. Witnesses told police the driver left the scene following the collision. Police were searching the area for a female suspect following the incident. We don’t yet have specifics of the injuries sustained but a witness described the scene of the incident via Twitter:

    The female driver had not been contacted by police as of 10:30 AM.

  • SU bomb threat: A threatening note forced the evacuations of three buildings on the Seattle University campus Friday morning. Students and staff were cleared from the buildings as police searched floor to floor and office to office for the unspecified threat. Here is the security bulletin sent by Seattle University to the campus:Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.43.11 AM

UPDATE: All clear!Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 11.36.14 AM

SPD says a student found “two threatening notes in a women’s restroom.”

Blotter | Officer attacked with homemade weapon, man attacked with frying pan

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

  • UPDATERobbery arrest caught on cop cam: SPD has posted a report documenting an arrest early Thursday morning caught on a body camera being used during the year-long trial of the technology in the East Precinct:
    Officers caught a group of teens with a loaded, stolen handgun early this morning on Capitol Hill after the teens started several brawls and tried to rob two men right in front of police. The arrest was caught on SPD bodycam.

    East Precinct officer, working an emphasis patrol around Capitol Hill’s busy nightlife area, spotted the group of three teen suspects trying to pick fights as they walked through the Pike/Pine area just after midnight.As officers pursued the teens, two men ran toward officers while shouting the suspects had tried to rob them at gunpoint.Patrol officers–including one equipped with a bodyworn video camera–caught up to the teen suspects in Cal Anderson Park and took them into custody.Officers searched a 16-year-old in the group, they found a loaded gun tucked in his waistband. Police also found a large bag of marijuana (containing more than 32 grams) and more handgun ammunition in one suspect’s backpack.

    Police booked the 16-year-old into the King County Youth Service Center for unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of stolen property and a warrant. They also booked an 18-year-old suspect for a felony warrant. Officers released a third 19-year-old member of the group after identifying him.

  • Slungshot: Seattle police arrested a man on March 29th for swinging a homemade chain weapon at an officer near Broadway and E Pine, according to an SPD report. Officers initially responded to the area following reports of a group fight involving at least “six transients.” When they arrived they found a man bloodied and intoxicated. According to SPD, officers were talking with the man when he pulled out a “slungshot” — two pieces of wood attached by a chain — and swung it at an officer. As officers attempted to take him into custody, police said he kicked an officer and got blood on another. The man also had a knife and a cap gun. He was booked into King County Jail for assaulting an officer.
  • Frying pan attack: Seattle police responded to another Capitol Hill incident involving a home procured weapon on March 30th. A man called police to his 17th and E Olive apartment to report that his friend slapped him and swung a frying pan at him before leaving the building with his keycard. The victim said his friend is homeless and occasionally stays in his apartment.

Continue reading

Where crime rose — and dropped — on Capitol Hill in 2014 as SPD prepares for more Pike/Pine ‘emphasis patrols’

On patrol in Volunteer Park -- an area in Beat C1 likely not lined up for increased patrols (Image: SPD)

On patrol in Volunteer Park — an area in Beat C1 likely not lined up for increased patrols (Image: SPD)

Screen-Shot-2015-03-11-at-10.47.23-AM-600x2611 (1)Heading into summer, a group of more than 40 Capitol Hill business owners are once again raising concerns about the level of nighttime police staffing around Pike/Pine. The group recently sent a letter to Mayor Ed Murray and City Council members to ask for more gang and narcotics unit cops to work the area and more foot and bike patrols on the streets. With a new (returning) commander about to be announced — the East Precinct has been lead by 10 different commanders over the past 15 years — here’s a look at how last year’s promised step-up in policing played out as crime levels in general across Capitol Hill rose.

Overall, the number of reported Capitol Hill crime incidents leapt 12.5% in 2014 marked by a huge surge in thefts like ripping off bicycles and car prowls. Assaults also climbed nearly 8% while street robberies and burglaries dropped vs. the previous year. The local trends mirrored what SPD saw across the city in 2014 — and the department claims it is making progress on vehicle thefts and car prowls so far in 2015.

In the core area of the emphasis patrols — Beat C2 — street robberies actually ended up down year over year after spiking last summer. Theft, despite the increased patrols at the end of the year, remained a significant menace in the area. See the end of the post for more areas touched by the increased Pike/Pine patrols. Continue reading

SPD looks at early results of East Precinct body cam trial

Storage and privacy. The biggest issues identified by Seattle Police Department officers in the first 90 days of an ongoing East Precinct trial of body camera technology are, basically, the same as any other start-up.

SPD representatives updating the City Council’s public safety committee Wednesday provided the first public update on the trial’s findings as twelve East Precinct volunteer officers have been putting the cameras through the rigors of patrol on the streets of Capitol Hill, the Central District, and First Hill.

“It absolutely contributes to safety,” officer Chris Myers told the committee as he modeled two of the camera types being tested through the fall in the East Precinct. Myers said individual reactions to being recorded vary but that, overall, he has been glad to have the increased documentation of the incidents to which he responds. Continue reading