From the Seattle Police Department, September 12, 2017
Today the Seattle Police Department released its semiannual report detailing bias crimes and incidents for the first half of 2017. During this time, a total of 178 criminal and non-criminal bias based incidents were reported, up from the 128 incidents reported at the same time last year. The increase in reports can be attributed in large part to victims feeling more comfortable reporting bias crimes due to enhanced trust, improved reporting mechanisms and ongoing community outreach by the Department.
“SPD continues to be a national leader in investigating and reporting bias crimes as well as outreach to communities experiencing these acts,” said Chief of Police, Kathleen O’Toole. “In the spirit of transparency and accountability we continue to release these reports letting the community know that the Department works hard every day to make sure our most vulnerable victims are heard and we pursue the justice they deserve.”
Highlights from the report:
- Bias crimes often occur between complete strangers and take victims by surprise. Many of them are property crimes committed anonymously under the cover of darkness. The Seattle Police Department’s clearance rate for these incidents is 39%. Many of these arrests are made by patrol officers arriving on the scene soon after an incident has occurred. Detectives work hard to locate suspects not found at the time of the incident. 13 cases from this period remain open and may be cleared by arrest.
A woman faced two attackers armed with handguns in a midnight street robbery on Capitol Hill Thursday night. The Sheriff’s helicopter, a police dog unit, and officers tracked a phone taken at gunpoint in the street robbery across the city but were unable to make an arrest after the digital trail finally ended in North Seattle about 30 minutes after the hold-up.
Police responded to the 200 block of 14th Ave E between Thomas and John around 11:40 PM after a report of a woman screaming. According to the victim, two men pointed pistols at her and stole her bag before fleeing the area. Witnesses reported seeing the men headed north on 13th and then west on Thomas before disappearing, according to East Precinct radio reports.
King County’s Guardian One helicopter and a SPD K9 unit were called out to help search for the suspects described only as two black males wearing masks.
Police began tracking the location of a phone taken in the robbery as it appeared to travel to an area just off I-5 near NE 65th and then around Aurora where it was finally turned off and stopped signaling the app.
Police were unable to immediately locate the suspects in the area where the phone was tracked but collected reports of possible sightings of the vehicle the men may have been traveling in.
There were no reported significant injuries suffered in the robbery.
Earlier this summer following a 23rd and Union purse grab, CHS reported on a small drop in reported robberies in the East Precinct in the first half of the summer season. We’ll try to take a look at the latest numbers soon.
Fired for her actions in a “walking while black” case, former Capitol Hill cop Cynthia Whitlatch will “have her termination record changed to a retirement” and has been granted years of backpay, KIRO reports.
The back pay is more than $105,000 in two lump payments, paying her for 90 hours a month for the time since she was fired. All sustained findings by the Office of Professional Accountability about Whitlatch’s conduct will remain in place.
Whitlatch has her union to thank for the settlement. The Seattle Times reports the appeal of her firing was brought in “a grievance filed by the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) over her termination because of the untimeliness of her discipline.”
Apparently, two commanders were notified of Whitlatch’s conduct during her encounter with Wingate but did not immediately report it, thereby impacting deadlines for discipline to be imposed.
The Stranger reported on the union’s complaints here in late 2015:
SPOG is claiming that the six-month clock for finishing the investigation really started ticking in September when the community members’ complaints were lodged with Captain Davis, even though Captain Davis didn’t refer those complaints to the OPA (which means OPA didn’t know about the meeting between Captain Davis and community advocates, or even about the Wingate arrest itself, until it was reported in The Stranger in January of this year). Even then, the union argues that as soon as Murphy learned in January about the concerns connected to the Wingate arrest, he should have asked the union for an extension of the six-month deadline, since it turned out some concerns about the Wingate arrest were first raised in September with Captain Davis. The union’s contract states that SPOG cannot “unreasonably deny” such extension requests.
The East Precinct officer was fired for racial bias for her actions in a 2014 Capitol Hill arrest. William Wingate was arrested and exonerated following the summer 2014 incident at 12th and Pike in which the city eventually apologized for the actions of Whitlatch after she took the then 69-year-old black man into custody for allegedly swinging a golf club he used as a cane in a manner she said she found threatening. Outcry followed and many pointed at the incident as further evidence of the need for reform at Seattle Police. Last year, a federal jury found Whitlatch had violated Wingate’s civil rights and awarded him $325,000 for the actions of the veteran officer.
Prior to the jury decision, Whitlatch was fired in 2015 for “sustained policy violations involving bias, abuse of police discretion, and escalation of a contact” in the Wingate arrest. The union’s appeal of the firing had been playing out for months before this summer’s settlement.
Seattle Police say they are looking for a driver after a woman was attacked and raped inside her Capitol Hill apartment Sunday.
According to police, the victim said the attack happened after a Seattle ride-share driver “forced a woman into a Capitol Hill apartment and sexually assaulted her for hours” after picking her up Sunday afternoon.
Below is the SPD brief on the attack and investigation.
Police tell CHS that additional information like the physical description of the driver and the ride service he was driving for are not currently being released per the discretion of the investigating detectives.
Police Investigating Ride-Share Driver for Rape
Police are investigating a report that a Seattle ride-share driver forced a woman into a Capitol Hill apartment and sexually assaulted her for hours on Sunday.
Shortly after the victim, a woman in her 20s, was picked up by the ride-share on Capitol Hill on Sunday afternoon, the driver cancelled her ride and told her she would not be charged. He then reportedly drove her to an apartment near the 1700 block of Summit Avenue on Capitol Hill and forced her into an apartment, where he raped her for several hours until she was able to get away.
The woman contacted police the following day and investigators are now working with victim and the ride-share company to confirm the identity of the suspect.
SPD is urging customers of services like Uber and Lyft “to be aware of any attempts by a driver to cancel a ride while you are in the vehicle” and to “ensure the vehicle and driver match with any notifications you receive from the ride-share company.”
“If you have a crime to report involving a ride-share driver, please call police and file a complaint with the ride-share company as soon as possible so the driver’s information will be flagged for authorities,” SPD says.
Police are investigating a reported armed robbery after a woman was mugged and thrown to the pavement on the backside of the Midtown Center commercial block at 23rd and Union Tuesday night.
According to East Precinct radio dispatches, the suspect grabbed the victim and claimed to have a gun pressed against her as he shoved the woman down and stole her wallet on 24th Ave just after 10:30 PM Tuesday.
Police spread out across the area and a K9 unit searched for the suspect described as a black male around 5’6″ and heavyset, wearing a white tank top, and dark jean shorts, last seen fleeing the area on foot to the east.
The search was not successful and there were no arrests. No serious injuries were reported.
With a rise in gun incidents and shootings across the city, robberies are down so far this summer in the East Precinct and the area around the Midtown Center has seen fewer incidents of gun violence after a spike earlier this year.
In May, developers announced a $23.25 million deal to acquire the Midtown block for long-planned redevelopment.
A man was shot in the leg and police received conflicting reports about the possible shooter in a shooting early Thursday morning near 12th and E Olive St.
Police were called to reports of people yelling and multiple gunshots just before 2 AM near the 1700 block of 12th Ave. They arrived to find a male who had suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
The shooter was initially described as a white male with a slim build, bald head, and wearing an all blue sweatsuit or possibly medical scrubs. But other witness accounts provided a different description. According to police dispatch radio reports, the victim told police the shooter had accused him of breaking into a car.
Police searched the area for the shooter. A K9 unit was not immediately available but a dog brought to the scene later helped officers search the area yard by yard. Police were also hoping to collect video evidence of the incident from a nearby resident.
We do not have further details but the male’s injuries were not described as life threatening by Seattle Fire radio.
Thursday’s incident took place a block from the site of a November 2016 shooting in which the victim eventually died from his injuries. SPD has not announced any arrests in connection with that case.
Gunfire echoed around north Broadway early Sunday morning after a Capitol Hill service station worker said he opened fire to ward of a robbery attempt. Meanwhile, police were investigating more gunfire earlier Sunday after an apparent gun battle near Pine and Broadway in the middle of nightlife crowds overnight.
There were no reported serious injuries in the incidents.
Officers rushed to the area of Broadway and Roy just before 6 AM to reports of gunshots. Arriving police were told the 76 Station worker opened fire on two males attempting a robbery, according to East Precinct radio reports. At least one shot struck the back window of a tan van as the suspects reportedly attempted to flee on 10th Ave. There were no immediate arrests.
Earlier, a wave of violence across Seattle continued with a bout of gunfire near the Broadway parking lot between Pike and Pine just before 1 AM.
Police responded to a report of around eight shots in the area and found at least one bullet-riddled car and a victim who apparently not seriously injured. The female was reported as “uncooperative” by police and refused to stay at the scene, according to radio dispatches.
Witnesses told police of an SUV-type vehicle that sustained bullet damage, another car, and a possibly armed male fleeing the area on foot. Police were checking with area businesses that may have video evidence from the shootout. Seattle Fire was called to the scene for possible injuries from the gunfire but quickly released.
See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here. Yes, CHS is still on hiatus but we’ll continue to keep the news engine warm and post from time to time as events warrant.
- Broadway gun arrest: Seattle Police are thanking a “watchful resident” for reporting a threatening man with a gun outside a bar Saturday night amid Broadway and Pike/Pine streets choked with nightlife revelers. Police responded to the report of the man armed with a handgun with “his finger on the trigger, and “pounding his chest and breathing heavily” outside Therapy in the 1500 block of Broadway just after 10 PM Saturday night. According to police, they were able to track down the suspect after his silver Audi became stuck in traffic near the Shell station at Pike and Broadway:
Officers searched the area and within about ten minutes, found the suspect stuck in traffic. East Precinct bike officers quickly coordinated with nightlife emphasis foot beat officers and formed a plan for a high risk vehicle stop. Officers stopped the car and spoke with the suspect. Officers learned that the man had a license to carry a concealed weapon. They also found his loaded 9mm handgun. Since brandishing a gun isn’t covered by permit, officers arrested the man for a misdemeanor weapons violation.
“Many thanks to the watchful resident for seeing something suspicious and then quickly sharing the information with bike officers who were patrolling the area,” the SPD brief on the arrest reads.
- ‘Well-known Capitol Hill community member’ investigation: KIRO has made a big deal about the investigation of a “well-known Capitol Hill community member” for allegedly “training sex workers for ‘highly paid’ escort work and providing them to government leaders.” While the TV station chose to break the news on the March 1st search warrant to collect evidence at the reported “Capitol Hill” home of the unnamed suspect in the midst of fallout from Mayor Ed Murray’s sex abuse scandal, CHS is aware of the investigation and can report that, no, the search warrant was not for the mayor’s home despite what the comments section of the TV news site might tell you. In typical TV fashion, the address isn’t even really on Capitol Hill. But more importantly, the prostitution and “government leaders” element overshadows allegations of sexual assault being investigated after a 22-year-old man told police he was drugged and raped by the suspect. At this point, there are no charges in the case.
- First Hill knife arrest: SPD arrested an alleged car prowler in an incident last Friday on First Hill:
Officers arrested a man for robbery Friday afternoon when two men interrupted a car prowl in the First Hill neighborhood. Two men doing building maintenance in the 1200 block of James Street at 3:45 p.m. Friday, went downstairs to retrieve items from their trucks when they spotted a man helping himself to stuff stored in the bed boxes of their vehicles. The two men confronted the suspect who pulled out a knife and threatened the victims. The victims retreated and called 911. Officers arrived and began searching the building for the suspect they believed was still inside. The Officers eventually found the suspect, placed him under arrest, and booked him into King County Jail for investigation of robbery. Officers checked the area where the suspect was hiding and found all of the victim’s belongings.
The week’s spike in gun violence across Seattle continued overnight with a shooting in the gas station parking lot at 16th and Madison that sent a male victim to the hospital with wounds to his upper back and leg.
Police were called to the area of 16th and Madison around 12:45 AM after 911 callers reported hearing multiple gunshots in the area. Officers found the victim in the Shell station parking lot at 16th and Madison conscious but “very uncooperative,” according to East Precinct radio dispatches.
Callers reported seeing a light colored or silver vehicle speed from the scene after the gunfire. Minutes after the E Madison shooting, SPD was called to more gunfire reported around 18th and Marion but there were no reports of injuries.
SPD says the victim suffered non-life threatening injuries in the shooting and that the department’s gang unit is investigating the incident.
The early Sunday morning incident joins a spate of gun violence across the city ending a week that included five shooting victims in three days. The E Madison victim made six and another man shot later near Beacon Hill bumped the tally to seven by Sunday dawn. Earlier this week, SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole said the department is working with its federal law enforcement partners to tackle the latest wave of gun violence.
“We are outraged by the gun violence, and neither our department nor our community will tolerate it. We have been working consistently with our federal, state, and county partners, and convened a meeting today to redouble our efforts,” O’Toole said in a statement.
The shooting victims include a couple in their 70s caught in the crossfire of a shootout along MLK early on May 4th and a deadly shooting May 3rd in a parking lot along Rainier that took the life of a young woman.
This week marks two years since the death of Devan Schmidt.
The 29-year-old died inside a Madison Valley home on May 2nd, 2015. The medical examiner was unable to determine a cause and manner of death but noted that the investigation scene and circumstances around her death were “concerning for homicidal violence,” and asphyxia “could not be ruled out,” according to documents provided by a family member to CHS.
Her family has continued to seek justice and the Seattle Police Department case remains open.
Schmidt’s loved ones sent CHS the following statement and are asking for help in finding out what happened that May 2nd morning in Madison Valley.
It has been two years as of today that our beloved daughter, sister, auntie, and friend’s life was abruptly taken away. Devan C. Schmidt will always be remembered as a woman who loved life, adventure, family, friends, laughing, being silly, a good book to read, and dancing in the rain. She is loved and missed by many and will never be forgotten. We still have many unanswered questions and ask that anybody who has information regarding her death or the circumstances surrounding it, please contact the SPD homicide division.
— Friends and family of Devan Schmidt
If you can provide information, call the SPD homicide tip line at (206) 684-8763.