As reports emerge of police, firefighters, and active military personnel from across the country participating in the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol in an unsuccessful bid to stop the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden, the Seattle Police Department announced it is placing at least two officers on leave as an investigation is launched into their participation in the deadly day of protest, riot, and sedition in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, further SPD fallout from Wednesday’s deadly clashes includes a call for the head of the city’s police union to apologize or resign for his comments about the event. And, in Olympia, Washington National Guard troops have joined the State Patrol in barricading the state’s Capitol grounds over security concerns as legislators meet Monday to adopt rules that will allow them to meet virtually during the rest of the session.
In Seattle, SPD interim Chief Adrian Diaz said the city’s Office of Police Accountability is conducting a “full review of any SPD employee activities at the U.S. Capitol.”
“The OPA will investigate whether any SPD policies were violated and if any potential illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation,” the Diaz announcement reads. “If any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I will immediately terminate them.”
The officers have been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, Diaz said.
UPDATE 1:22 PM: Chief Diaz has announced new details of what led to the investigation of the SPD officers saying that “photos on social media showed several SPD officers apparently in Washington, D.C.”
“On Friday, when it was clear an investigation would be needed to determine if they did or did not participate in the violent events or any violations of federal law, I decided it was essential to our commitment to transparency and enhancing public trust that we share this information with the community,” Diaz’s statement reads.
Diaz said it was not clear when he referred the photographs for investigation where they were taken or to what extent officers had participated.
“I placed the identified officers on administrative leave because of the significance of what occurred in Washington, D.C.,” the statement reads —
I did this considering that participating in a political event on their own time, out of uniform, violates no policy or law. I do not want to limit anyone’s ability to lawfully participate in First Amendment activities. The large number of people who forced their way into the Capitol, connected to the earlier political rally, presented too much of an unknown about whether any of our employees had potentially violated federal law. That is why I had to act. Given the seriousness of what took place – out of an abundance of caution, I asked OPA to conduct an investigation.
Diaz said If OPA finds any evidence the SPD employees being investigated “were directly involved, they will be fired and the information will be shared with federal officials.”
Meanwhile, Seattle Police Officer Guild president Mike Solan is facing demands that he apologize or step down after he made statements blaming the deadly violence in D.C. on the Black Lives Matter movement. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called Solan’s statements “wrong, immoral, and a lie” and has been joined by former SPD Chief Carmen Best in condemnation of the union leader. Durkan and the city face what will likely be a drawn out and painful battle with Solan and the police union as the sides begin to pound out a new contract.
Cities across the country are launching similar investigations over reports of police and fire department personnel attending President Donald Trump’s morning speech and the violent march on the Capitol.
In Olympia, National Guard soldiers joined state troopers Monday outside the fenced-off Capitol in response to threats to take over the building. “Several dozen protesters” were reported to have gathered there.
Last week, a mob attempted to storm the governor’s mansion as around 100 people breached security and attempted to bust into Gov. Jay Inslee’s official residence with the governor and his family inside.
Legal repercussions from the unrest are beginning to add up. Seattle resident Mark Leffingwell, 51, has been charged for his alleged activities in D.C. including entering a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, the Seattle Times reports.
While there is a growing list of people charged in the acts in which five people including a Capitol police officer died, participants in the Olympia attacks and the attack in D.C. are still being identified — many with the help of reporters and users on social media.
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