Press Releases

October 16, 2019

OPA Finds New Years Eve Shooting by SPD Officer Consistent With Policy

SEATTLE, WA – The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released findings from its months-long administrative investigation into the fatal shooting of Iosia Faletogo by a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer. After evaluating the facts and circumstances of the incident, OPA found the officer’s conduct followed SPD policy and training.

The incident occurred on December 31, 2018, in north Seattle following a traffic stop in which Mr. Faletogo fled on foot. Multiple officers ran after him, and an on-the-ground scuffle ensued. Body-worn video revealed that Mr. Faletogo did not comply with police commands and was in possession of a handgun. After struggling with officers and being ordered not to reach for the gun, Mr. Faletogo stated, “nope, not reaching.” Almost simultaneously, one of the officers fired a single, fatal shot.

Regarding the finding, OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said, “I recognize the death of Mr. Faletogo was a tragedy. He left behind family, friends, and a community who loved him. However, OPA’s investigation found that the officer made the difficult, split-second decision to use deadly force because he perceived he was in grave danger given Mr. Faletogo’s immediate access to a weapon and lack of compliance.”

Less than one second elapsed from when Mr. Faletogo said “nope, not reaching” to the moment the shot was fired. OPA determined that, even had the officer who fired the shot heard the statement, it would not have been possible for him to change his actions given the quickly-evolving and chaotic nature of the situation.

The case went through both internal and external investigations to ensure a full evaluation of the facts. This included an independent criminal review by the Washington State Patrol and multiple SPD administrative investigations. No criminal charges were recommended or filed.

May 31, 2019

OPA Clarifies Role in Police Officer Disciplinary Process

Seattle, WA - As reported today in The Seattle Times, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) concluded that an officer lied during an administrative misconduct investigation interview. It is important to further explain OPA's role in recommending discipline for police officer misconduct and the steps OPA took in this particular case.

Based on OPA's investigation, Director Andrew Myerberg recommended a sustained finding for dishonesty. The officer's chain of command, including a member of SPD's command staff, concurred with the sustained finding during the Discipline Committee Meeting, which occurs whenever a sustained finding is recommended.

OPA and the chain of command also came to a consensus regarding the range of discipline to recommend to Chief Best: 30-days unpaid suspension to termination. That joint recommendation encompassed the different perspectives of those on the Discipline Committee, and the proposed disciplinary range was consistent with those positions. As with the practice of convening a Discipline Committee Meeting, a consensus range of discipline is proposed in virtually every case.

Chief Best, who is the final decision maker on discipline, imposed a 30-day unpaid suspension. While short of termination, a 30-day suspension is the second-highest level of discipline an officer can receive.

January 10, 2019

Office of Police Accountability Initiates Investigation into Fatal New Year's Eve Officer-Involved Shooting

Seattle, WA - This week the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) initiated an investigation to assess whether the conduct of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer who fatally shot Iosia Faletogo complied with police policies and procedures. The incident occurred on December 31, 2018, in North Seattle following a traffic stop. OPA anticipates its investigation will be complete by the end of July.

OPA also recommended that SPD seek an independent review of the incident by an outside law enforcement agency. The evidence collected during that investigation would be used to determine whether the officer's conduct during the incident was lawful.

Regarding the proposed course of action, OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said: "Together, these investigations are intended to provide a thorough and impartial evaluation of the facts, which are critical not only for evaluating the case, but for ensuring transparency and maintaining public confidence in the SPD and the police accountability system."