Report finds officers failed to properly de-escalate situation before shooting and killing Seattle U grad student during mental crisis


Two Seattle officers have been suspended after the Office of Police Accountability found they shot and killed a Seattle University graduate student without attempting to properly deescalate the mental crisis situation as it played out along the city’s waterfront in February 2021.

CHS reported here on the February 16th, 2021 shooting that killed 44-year-old Derek Hayden after police responded to reports a man armed with a knife was reportedly trying to harm himself during a mental crisis around 9:20 PM on Alaskan Way and Seneca.

“Police approached the man and attempted to use a less lethal tool, but the device was ineffective,” the Seattle Police Department said at the time. Continue reading

Council committee to hear briefing on Seattle Police’s ‘improper ruse’ at CHOP

Tuesday, the Public Safety and Human Services Committee of the Seattle City Council will be briefed by Andrew Myerberg, director of the city’s Office of Police Accountability, and Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell on the findings released last week that police leadership signed off on a dangerous disinformation ploy targeting demonstrators as the CHOP protest zone formed in the summer of 2020.

The morning session will also include the first opportunity for public comment on the scandal in front of the council. Continue reading

‘Improper ruse’ — Investigation finds Seattle Police officers faked reports about armed Proud Boys headed to CHOP — UPDATE: Harrell statement

The scene outside the East Precinct on June 8th, 2020

The hours after Seattle Police abandoned the East Precinct and the CHOP occupied protest zone was formed on June 8th, 2020 were chaotic — and dangerous.

In the midst of that chaos, SPD leadership including an assistant chief signed off on a deliberate hoax that capitalized on the widespread availability of services broadcasting police radio transmissions to spread rumors of a group of 20 to 30 armed right wing extremists roaming the streets of city and headed to Capitol Hill for a fight.

These findings of the department’s Office of Police Accountability after its year-long investigation into the “inappropriate ruse” comes likely too late to bring punishment to those directly involved. In its findings, the investigation lays the blame for the misinformation disinformation effort with two supervisors including the assistant chief. Both supervisors have since left the department, according to the report.

UPDATE: A researcher working to study disinformation points out that the OPA’s use of the word “misinformation” is incorrect. Misinformation implies the spreading of incorrect reports and observations regardless of intent. Disniformation, on the other hand, implies deliberate acts to mislead as is the case in the findings from this investigation. We have updated our report throughout.

UPDATE x2: Mayor Bruce Harrell has issued a statement on the report saying he plans to meet with Chief Diaz and push for new legislation “to ensure this does not happen again.”

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‘Best decisions they could’ — Office of Police Accountability clears chief and SPD brass in decision to leave the East Precinct

Best at a CHOP press conference in 2020 (Image: CHS)

The process of investigating the events of 2020, its months of unrest, and the formation of the CHOP protest zone on Capitol Hill moved forward Monday with another report finding no violations — and no blame — for Seattle Police decisions that contributed to the crisis.

Monday, the department’s Office of Police Accountability released its report exonerating former Chief Carmen Best and an assistant chief in the summer 2020 decision to clear out the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine.

“Following the evacuation, OPA received complaints alleging the Chief failed to take responsibility for her command by ordering—or allowing through her designee—the evacuation of SPD personnel from the East Precinct,” a press release from the OPA on the findings reads. “That the Chief delegated to her Assistant Chief, who opted to de-escalate by withdrawing personnel to a safer location, was not a violation of law or SPD policy.”

In the statement, OPA director Andrew Myerberg said complaints “further alleged the evacuation led to the establishment of CHOP/CHAZ and a subsequent period of lawlessness in the area” but that his investigation “found no consensus within SPD command or the Mayor’s Office that opening the streets around the East Precinct—and the ensuing evacuation of personnel—would result in the establishment of CHOP/CHAZ.”

Myerberg, instead, said Chief Best and her assistant chief “made the best decisions they could under high-stress, unprecedented circumstances.” Continue reading

Seattle Police Department fires two of six officers identified in January 6th D.C. investigation

(Image: SPD)

The Seattle Police Department has fired two officers for trespassing after investigators said they traveled to Washington D.C. during the January 6th riot and were documented in restricted areas of the Capitol.

Chief Adrian Diaz announced the terminations of Alexander and Caitlin Everett Friday, a married couple pro-law and order organization the National Police Association says were in D.C. for their honeymoon and to be part of the Donald Trump rally calling for the disruption of the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Continue reading

Seattle’s police accountability office said order to use blast balls and gas at Capitol Hill protest was a mistake — Its police chief just reversed the decision — UPDATE

June 1, 2020 on Capitol Hill (Image: Matt Mitgang with permission to CHS)

Chief Adrian Diaz has overruled the findings of the city’s Office of Police Accountability and announced he will not discipline the officer who improperly ordered the deployment of crowd control tactics in “the pink umbrella incident” — the moment the night of June 1st that set off a riot on Capitol Hill as police reacted to a umbrella thrust over the barrier outside the East Precinct at 11th and Pine with a barrage of pepper spray and blast grenades that led to a night filled with clouds of tear gas throughout Pike/Pine and a major clash with protesters.

“Decisions were made at levels of command above the Named Employee that bore directly on the Named Employee’s actions and thus actions taken by officers in the field. As a simple matter of fairness, I cannot hold the Named Employee responsible for circumstances that were created at a higher level of command authority and for carrying out decisions made at a higher rank,” the interim chief wrote in his letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Council President M. Lorena González explaining his decision to reverse the OPA finding.

The office had previously ruled that a complaint against the officer who gave the order should be sustained and that the decision to deploy the tactics was in error because “the large majority of the crowd was not acting violently at the time.” Continue reading