Civil rights trial begins in Capitol Hill golf club arrest case

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-3-53-24-pmThe trial has begun in William Wingate’s federal civil rights case against a former East Precinct police officer.

Wingate was was arrested and exonerated after a July 2014 incident at 12th and Pike in which the City of Seattle eventually apologized for the actions of officer Cynthia Whitlatch who took the then 69-year-old black man into custody for allegedly swinging a golf club he used as a cane in a manner the veteran officer said she found threatening.

Whitlatch was eventually fired for “sustained policy violations involving bias, abuse of police discretion, and escalation of a contact” in an Office of Professional Accountability investigation triggered by the arrest and reports of Whitlach’s social media activities:

The City of Seattle has been dropped from the suit after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones that Whitlatch’s actions “didn’t stem from city policies or longstanding practices,” the Seattle Times reports.

According to the lawsuit, Wingate suffers from post traumatic stress syndrome in the wake of the incident and is suing Whitlatch for unspecified monetary damages.

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8 thoughts on “Civil rights trial begins in Capitol Hill golf club arrest case

  1. It seems likely that Mr. Wingate will prevail at this trial and he will be awarded a lot of money, which he certainly deserves. Unfortunately, it will not be Cynthia Whitlatch who pays out this money, but the City of Seattle, who was her employer.

    • Presumably the pressure resulting from such payments trickles down to those who can get SPD staff under control. We should remember that Whitlach’s managers could and should have recognized that she was not fit for the job and fired her long before this happened. There are certainly more bad cops on the payroll now, and they are a liability to the taxpayers.

    • Phil, as much as I abhor Whitlatch’s actions, I am not aware that she had a record of inappropriate behavior prior to the incident with Mr. Wingate. Do you have information about any previous problems that should have led to her firing?

    • Bob: See also: “Metro Bus Driver Says She Was Also Bullied by Officer Cynthia Whitlatch, Warned SPD Years Ago,”, by Ansel Herz, January 30, 2015.

      As I wrote then, the following list of people also deserve a closer look:

      Benjamin E. Archer #6938, who provided backup at the time of the incident
      Chris Coles #6940, who wrote the incident report
      Joe L. Lam #4767, who screened the arrest and approved the incident report
      Lam’s supervisor, who undoubtedly knows that Lam allows his subordinates to engage in fraud and abuse
      All other SPD employees who have supervised Whitlatch, particularly he or she who allowed Whitlatch to train other cops for 13 years
      All other partners who observed Whitlatch’s on-the-job behavior, such as the one who stood by while she harassed the Metro bus driver who asked her to move her car from the bus lane
      The OPA investigators who reviewed complaints about the Wingate incident, the complaint about Whitlatch’s racist publications, and any other complaints about Whitlatch, resulting in completely ineffective outcomes
      Those staff who, upon finding this shitstorm brewing a couple days ago, seemingly neglected to present O’Toole with a complete history of Whitlatch’s employment history, complaints, and investigations.
      Kathleen O’Toole, who neglected to demand the aforementioned history of Whitlatch
      Mayor Ed Murray, who stepped into office and kicked some of SPD’s best people to the curb simply because they were associated with former Mayor Mike McGinn, and who appointed a former SPOG vice president as interim chief
      Murray’s advisers on police matters, who like Murray, apparently know and/or care more about playing politics than about the internal workings of our police department

  2. Normally I am supportive of the police because they deal with lots of crap the average citizen gets to sidestep and is not obligated to respond to, but this really looks like this guy was stopped for walking-while-black.

  3. It seems obvious this officer was one bad day away from shooting an unarmed person in our city. Glad the SPD got rid of her and hoping that Mr. Wingate prevails at trial.