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Council News Release

7/9/2007  5:26:00 PM
Lisa Herbold, Licata Office (206) 684-8803

Council President Nick Licata


SEATTLE Council President Nick Licata released the following statement on Ms. Kathryn Olsons, the director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), report on the Seattle Police Departments handling of the complaint by George Patterson about his arrest on January 2, 2007:

I believe that the new OPA Director was given a difficult task and she did the best she could under the circumstances. I also believe she went about her review in a fair manner.

Todays OPA Directors report says that she would have recommended at least (emphasis added) a finding of not-sustained for the allegation that officers lied.

Lying is the allegation for which Police Chief Kerlikowske exonerated the officers in question.

Ms. Olsons statement that she would have recommended at least a not-sustained finding to the allegation of lying means that:

  1. Ms. Olson believes it was neither proved nor disproved that the officers were dishonest about their recollection of hand-cuffing the male witness in their reports.
  2. Olson believes it was neither proved nor disproved that the officers were dishonest about how they observed and recovered drugs in the way that they reported that they did.

A finding of exoneration is defined as when the conduct alleged did occur and that the conduct was justified, lawful, and proper.

I agree with Ms. Olsons conclusion that the conduct of these officers as it relates to their truthfulness was neither proved nor disproved to be justified, lawful, and proper. I am encouraged that she would have recommended at least a not-sustained finding to the allegation of lying.

I did note some differences between Ms. Olsons report and the original Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) report that were not addressed.

A difference that struck me as perplexing was why Ms. Olson said the Chief suggested that efforts be made to locate a female witness when that witness had already been located! The assigned OPA investigator along with a second investigator went to visit her in jail before the Chief intervened.

In addition, the investigators interviewed the female witness and she indicated in that interview that she would only give a statement if she could be released on her drug charge. The OPA Sergeant would not drop the charge in exchange for the testimony and the Acting OPA Director agreed with him.

The OPARB report quotes an email from the Acting Captain to the Chief in his April 5 Case Update saying At your direction, an OPA-IS investigator was sent to King County Jail and obtained an interview. She was subsequently released from jail, although the charges were not dropped.

I do not understand why the Chief described her as independent witness given that she was arrested and released from jail while he does not describe the other witness as independent although that witness was not arrested. The OPA Directors report does not address this difference, although the new Director does say that the Chiefs suggestion was not inappropriate or calculated to elicit biased testimony from her.

Nevertheless it was the female witness testimony that the Chief referred to in his April 9 press conference when he said, The witness also states that she observed Mr. Patterson with the narcotics that the officers recovered. The OPARB report says that the female witness said that she saw something being thrown from Mr. Pattersons mouth but I dont know what it was. The videotape of Mr. Pattersons arrest does not show the officers recovering any drugs from the ground, nor did the officers say in their report that they recovered any from the ground.

I find these inconsistencies troubling and wish that they could have been addressed in Ms. Olsons report. I am thankful that the independent oversight of OPARB did bring them to light and it is testimony to their importance as part of the OPA system. I encourage the new OPA Director to work with them and the OPA Auditor in supporting professional accountability in our Police Department.


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