Press Releases

June 20, 2024

OPA Publishes Community Survey Results About Police Accountability

SEATTLE — Today, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) published its Police Accountability Community Survey Report. The report highlights data collected during the summer of 2023 by OPA and EMC Research, a local research firm, to gauge community awareness of and opinions about Seattle’s police accountability system, particularly OPA.  

While the survey was open to everyone, OPA especially wanted to hear from communities with disproportionately high police contacts based on the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) Terry stops, use-of-force, and other data.*  

 With this information, OPA identified its key audiences: 

  • Those who identify as male (164 responses) 
  • Black men, including African American and African immigrants (73 responses) 
  • Indigenous/Native American populations (13 responses)    

OPA Director Gino Betts Jr. described understanding public awareness and opinions about OPA as a top priority:  

“Earning community trust is the most important measure of success for OPA and me as its director," said Betts. “You can’t have effective policing or meaningful police accountability without it. Listening is always the first step toward earning trust. That’s why conducting this survey and hearing directly from communities most impacted by policing is critical to our work.”   

Highlights from the survey:  

  • Results showed strong public support for police oversight in Seattle. Almost everyone surveyed (98%) said it’s important for the city to have police accountability, with 93% giving it a “very important” rating.  
  • 96% of respondents across all demographics said it’s important for Seattle to have a police department that holds officers accountable. 
  • 67% of respondents said they had heard of OPA before this survey.   
  •  Across demographics, respondents believed OPA would side with officers over community members.   
  •  An overwhelming majority (66%) of respondents agreed with the statement, “Police oversight is biased.”  

Director Betts said some aspects of the results were encouraging, but undeniably, there is significant work to do:   

“The high percentage of OPA awareness among the public is a testament to the success of our community engagement work,” said Betts. “However, this report makes it clear that our work is far from done. This feedback is the beginning of an ongoing conversation with the community.”  

The results from this survey will inform OPA’s community outreach work and ensure that those most likely to need its services have access to them. OPA intends to periodically collect feedback to improve its operations and services.  

View OPA’s Police Accountability Community Survey Report: 

*To understand how OPA determined its target audiences, see “Identifying Audiences” on page 3 of the report. 

January 23, 2024
(Updated January 30, 2024)

Seattle Office of Police Accountability Recommends Sustained Findings for Officer Who Said Student Fatally Struck 'Had Limited Value'

Seattle, WA — The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recommends sustained findings for the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer who made callous remarks about 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula; struck and killed by a police cruiser driven by another officer on January 23, 2023. OPA found that the officer violated SPD’s professionalism and bias-based policing policies by laughing about Kandula’s death, describing her as having “limited value,” and making other disparaging remarks.

SPD prohibits “behavior that undermines public trust,” including “any language that is derogatory, contemptuous, or disrespectful toward any person.” It also forbids prejudice or derogatory language about someone’s discernible personal characteristics.

An SPD employee initiated OPA’s investigation by forwarding the inadvertently recorded comments captured by the officer’s body-worn video equipment. SPD also publicly released the video, resulting in hundreds of OPA complaints.
OPA Director Gino Betts Jr. described the officer’s words as “derogatory, disturbing, and inhumane.”

“The officer’s comments undermined public trust in the department, himself, and his colleagues,” Betts said. “For many, it confirmed, fairly or not, beliefs that some officers devalue and conceal disparaging views about community members.”

A discipline meeting is scheduled for January 23, 2024, where OPA and the officer’s chain of command will discuss OPA’s findings and forward recommended discipline to the chief of police.

October 3, 2023

OPA refers the ‘Makeshift Tombstone Case’ to OIG for investigation due to a conflict of interest

SEATTLE - In July, the Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) received several complaints concerning a political flag and a makeshift tombstone displayed at an SPD precinct. On July 12, 2023, OPA opened an intake investigation under case number 2023OPA-0303. During the intake investigation, OPA Director Gino Betts, Jr. identified a conflict preventing OPA from further involvement. Specifically, an SPD officer assigned to OPA when the investigation was opened was among those accused of misconduct.

Although that officer has since transferred from OPA, it was determined under section 2.2 of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability Internal Operations and Training Manual that he had professional relationships with OPA’s investigators and leadership, creating the appearance of partiality.

On September 12, 2023, the director referred the case to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). For the reasons above, OPA will not participate in future aspects of the investigation.

For further information, please contact the Office of the Inspector General at:

May 22, 2023

OPA Releases its 2022 Annual Report

SEATTLE - The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released its 2022 Annual Report today highlighting the office’s data trends and police accountability work from the previous year. The report includes a summary of OPA’s complaint, investigation, and discipline data as well as information about its policy work.

2022 was a transition year for OPA. The office saw major changes in leadership and capacity, with three directors within a year, operational vacancies, increased workloads, and roughly two-thirds of staff having less than a year on the job.

Despite these challenges, OPA achieved notable wins in 2022, including:

•          Raising awareness about OPA and police accountability throughout Seattle’s BIPOC and other marginalized communities.

•          Hiring a complaint navigator to educate complainants about OPA’s processes, provide case updates, and guide complainants through the complaint process.

•          Completing over 95% of investigations within the statutory and bargained 180-day timeline.

•          Expanding OPA’s leadership to include a general counsel and assistant general counsel to increase OPA's capacity and efficiency for Director Certification Memo processing.

•          Issuing a Management Action Recommendation for Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) response to subjects with edged weapons, which SPD fully implemented.

The report also includes a letter from OPA’s new director, Gino Betts Jr., detailing his vision for the office:

“I am fully committed to making OPA the national standard for police accountability and earning public confidence in our work,” Betts said. “With bold leadership and an engaged community, there is no place better than Seattle to demonstrate excellent policing and meaningful police accountability. Together, as One Seattle, I am convinced we will reimagine policing and improve police oversight.”

Check out the report’s “Facts at a Glance” below and read the full report here:

February 1, 2022

Seattle police oversight entity finds officers failed to de-escalate before fatal shooting; recommends changes

SEATTLE - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released the results of an investigation concluding that two Seattle police officers violated policy when they failed to de-escalate a situation before fatally shooting a man last February. The investigation also examined whether the officers' use of deadly force was consistent with policy.

The incident occurred on February 15, 2021, when two Port of Seattle officers saw an individual- now known to have been Derek Hayden-on Alaskan Way holding a butcher knife to his throat. They requested assistance and multiple Seattle police officers responded. This initial group of officers began developing a tactical plan while keeping a safe distance from Mr. Hayden. In the meantime, two additional officers - the employees at the center of this investigation arrived at the scene and intercepted Mr. Hayden. They stopped their patrol vehicle in his path, moved away from the cover it provided, and, with weapons drawn, began giving him commands. Mr. Hayden advanced toward one of those officers with his knife raised up while saying, "Do it, please, just shoot me." Both officers fired shots at Mr. Hayden, who was struck and killed.

OPA's investigation concluded that the two officers who fired the shots violated the Seattle Police Department's (SPD) de‑escalation policy because they did not engage in any planning or tactical discussions, and their actions undermined the critical principles of time, distance, and shielding. When they came into the path of Mr. Hayden with firearms drawn, this eliminated time, which the investigation report refers to as the most crucial factor of de-escalation. It says, "If there is more time, there is more opportunity to gain voluntarily compliance, build rapport with the individual in crisis, or call in more resources. Had there been more time, the threat would have been minimal, and they could have taken as long as needed to reach a peaceful resolution." The officers also positioned their vehicle directly in the path of the subject and moved away from cover, both of which limited their options for responding.

While the investigation found that both officers failed to de-escalate, it did not conclude that they violated SPD's policy governing the use of deadly force. Rather, OPA opined that the employees were permitted to fire their weapons in defense after Mr. Hayden advanced toward one of them with his knife raised and pointed down. Citing to another recent case in which OPA found that SPD officers used inappropriate tactics and failed to de‑escalate, OPA re‑issued a policy recommendation purposed to prevent such tragic situations from reoccurring. The recommendation is focused on revamping the training-and even piloting a new less-lethal tool-for responding to individuals with knives.

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Past Press Releases

October 4, 2021

Police oversight entity determines that evacuation of East Precinct did not violate law or policy

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released its investigation into the June 8, 2020, evacuation of Seattle Police Department (SPD) property and personnel from the East Precinct, which preceded the establishment of the autonomous zone known as CHOP/CHAZ. The investigation examined whether the then Chief of Police and one of her Assistant Chiefs violated law and/or policy as these events unfolded. OPA ultimately found that no such violations occurred on the part of either individual.

After the killing of George Floyd, there were nightly protests around SPD's East Precinct. These protests were unprecedented in scope and directed at law enforcement. For over a week, SPD closed off street access with fence barricades to maintain a perimeter around the East Precinct. This decision was motivated by several factors, including intelligence from the FBI that government buildings would be targeted by protesters. SPD was also concerned because of the recent burning of the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct, the potential risk of fire to the East Precinct and surrounding structures, and the presence of weapons, evidence, and computer systems inside the building. Ultimately, the street fencing was ineffective and repeatedly dismantled by demonstrators. Contentious, frequently violent encounters between protesters and SPD members ensued. By early June, there was significant political pressure for SPD to change tactics and de-escalate tensions.

On June 8, the Mayor's Office directed the Chief to remove the barricades and permit demonstrators to pass along the street. The Chief did so and delegated the specifics of maintaining continuous police operations within the confines of the East Precinct to her Assistant Chief. Ultimately, the Assistant Chief, in consultation with other commanders, ordered all police personnel to evacuate the East Precinct facility. OPA found this to be a reasonable decision based on the information available and the Assistant Chief's need to protect both the East Precinct and the physical safety of protesters and SPD officers under his command. According to OPA Director Andrew Myerberg, "To find otherwise would be to engage in hindsight analysis divorced from the immense pressures and time constraints that the Assistant Chief faced at the time. No one can definitively say that any alternative strategy-even if one were feasible-would have produced better results."

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. 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.

Complaints further alleged the evacuation led to the establishment of CHOP/CHAZ and a subsequent period of lawlessness in the area. OPA 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. "Rather," said Myerberg, "evidence indicates that the Chief and Assistant Chief made the best decisions they could under high-stress, unprecedented circumstances."

SPD continued providing police services after the evacuation to the best of their ability and began planning for how to resecure the East Precinct. However, given the number of protesters in the area and the clear presence of armed resistance, OPA found it reasonable that SPD waited to resecure the area in a coordinated manner.

While OPA found the decision making surrounding this case to be reasonable and consistent with policy, Director Myerberg ultimately recommended that SPD communicate certain details regarding decisions of public concern in a more transparent and timely fashion going forward. "In this case, the public and media were forced to speculate as to what occurred," said Myerberg. "In OPA's estimation, this created a sense of distrust and a belief that there was something nefarious at play, when, in fact, there wasn't."

July 8, 2021

Oversight entity finds 2 police officers violated law and policy when they trespassed on Capitol grounds during the Jan 6 insurrection

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released its investigation of six Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers who attended President Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, DC. The investigation examined whether the officers violated law or policy by attending the rally, which later devolved into an insurrection around and within the US Capitol.

OPA's investigation found that two of the officers violated SPD policy and Washington, DC law when they stood next to the US Capitol in a clearly-prohibited area. A photo pulled from a video shows the officers smiling while in close proximity to the Capitol as rioters lined the steps and climbed the walls and scaffolding. "That they were direct witnesses to people defiling the seat of American democracy-and did nothing-makes this all the more egregious," said OPA Director Andrew Myerberg.

Evidence confirmed that three of the officers did not violate SPD policy or engage in illegal activity when they attended the rally. Rather, the officers' attendance was protected by the First Amendment, and they were entitled to assemble and exercise their freedom of expression. OPA Director Myerberg concluded that "absent any illegal acts, the officers' presence at this rally was absolutely protected by the Constitution." OPA found this to be the case even if the views held by the officers and expressed at the rally were contrary to the majority view in Seattle or, for that matter, the views held by Myerberg as the factual decider in this case.

OPA could not establish whether one of the employees trespassed, engaged in other criminal conduct, or violated SPD policy. By the same token, OPA could not find evidence to exonerate this employee. Accordingly, OPA recommended a finding of not sustained - inconclusive.

Any discipline for the two employees who trespassed at the Capitol must be determined by the Chief of Police. However, the Discipline Committee-which includes the officers' chains of command, employment counsel and the OPA Director-recommended that the employment of both officers be terminated. As the officers are entitled to due process, additional proceedings still need to take place before discipline can be imposed.

OPA's investigation took six months and involved interviewing the employees; reviewing video; analyzing cell phones and emails; issuing subpoenas to obtain hotel documentation; interviewing law enforcement officers, hotel staff, and bar/restaurant employees in Washington, DC; and reviewing documents provided by the employees.

March 25, 2021

Oversight entity finds April 2020 shooting of Shaun Fuhr by a Seattle police officer was consistent with policy

SEATTLE - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released findings from its administrative investigation into the fatal shooting of Shaun Fuhr by a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer. After evaluating the facts and circumstances of the incident, OPA found the officers' conduct followed SPD policy and training.

The incident occurred on April 29, 2020, in south Seattle. A female called 911 reporting that her intoxicated former partner had fired a gun at her, physically assaulted her, and fled with her child. Officers were dispatched to the scene. The man-now identified as Shaun Fuhr-was located in the vicinity. Officers soon observed Mr. Fuhr running through an alley holding the child with one hand at his side. They gave chase and ordered him to stop multiple times, but he did not comply. Believing that Mr. Fuhr was an imminent deadly threat to the child, one officer discharged his firearm, which fatally struck Mr. Fuhr. The child was not physically harmed.

OPA determined that given the totality of the circumstances, further de-escalation at the time of the shooting was not safe or feasible. Moreover, OPA found the use of deadly force was reasonable, necessary, and proportional. Mr. Fuhr had previously engaged in violence towards the child's mother, he was believed to be armed and dangerous, the officers could not see his right hand, he had repeatedly refused to surrender, and he was holding the child in a manner that raised concerns for the child's welfare. OPA also considered the officer's extensive SWAT training for similar scenarios and his belief that without immediate action, the child would be at serious risk of imminent harm.

OPA recognizes that this incident is a tragedy for all involved. However, the weight of the evidence informs the determination that no policies or laws were violated.

February 11, 2021

Oversight entity says a City Council-led investigation into Seattle police officers who visited DC in early January isn't legal or just

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) expressed its opposition to Councilmember Sawant's call for Council to lead an investigation into the six Seattle Police Department officers who were in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021. This matter is currently being investigated by OPA, which is responsible for investigating allegations of police officer misconduct.

Such an investigation by the City Council would likely be contrary to existing city ordinances and the federal Consent Decree, as well as violate police collective bargaining agreements. In addition, the City Charter only permits the Council to conduct administrative misconduct investigations into members of its own body.

"Regardless of whether these officers engaged in misconduct, which is an allegation that has not been proven, they are entitled to the contractual protections that the City agreed to during the collective bargaining process," said Andrew Myerberg, OPA's Director. "These are the same types of protections afforded to every represented city employee-from electricians to administrative staff to firefighters. This proposal would violate those protections in the name of political expediency and should be a concern for all labor organizations."

OPA was designed-after years of research and collaboration-to be protected from external pressures. This was so that its decisions could be based on fact rather than the current political winds. Councilmember Sawant's call for City Council action would do the opposite by, for the first time in OPA's knowledge, expressly politicizing an investigation. According to Myerberg, "this is a very dangerous path to go down that could have lasting consequences for Seattle's accountability system and undermine the rule of law and procedural due process."

Myerberg doesn't claim OPA is perfect. In fact, he says changes are needed to keep improving accountability systems both locally and statewide. "The way to do that, though, is through prospective legislation," he says, "which OPA has actively been supporting at the state level, rather than unilaterally acting contrary to existing law and contracts." 

January 15, 2021

OPA makes sustained findings and recommends systemic changes in recently completed protest investigations

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released 22 more completed investigations into alleged Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee misconduct at protests following the killing of George Floyd. These investigations led OPA to makes multiple sustained findings against officers and recommend four policy changes where the issues were more systemic in nature.

In three cases (2020OPA-0333, 2020OPA-0335, and 2020OPA-0344) SPD officers deployed CS gas (tear gas) canisters or blast balls overhand without being fully aware of their surroundings. Some blast balls hit people who were not posing a risk to public safety or property. OPA's investigations and video analysis found the methods used to deploy these munitions were inconsistent with policy and training and therefore recommended the allegations of improper use of force be sustained in all three cases. To address the system-wide impact of these concerns, OPA also recommended changing policy to prohibit officers from deploying blast balls overhand and/or directing blast balls at a person unless it is purposed to prevent imminent serious bodily harm.

In case 2020OPA-0419, OPA found that blast balls were deployed to move a crowd in accordance with training but recognized that the policy should be altered to avoid similar situations in the future. Thus, OPA recommended a not sustained finding but issued a formal recommendation that SPD officers be prohibited from rolling blast balls directly into crowds unless there is a direct and ongoing threat of harm to officers.

OPA received numerous complaints regarding SPD's decision to disperse a crowd of protesters on June 1 using blast balls, CS gas, and OC spray (pepper spray). The complaints alleged that SPD-not the protesters-escalated the situation without provocation. OPA's subsequent investigation in case 2020OPA-0334 found that the reasons to disperse the crowd were not proportional to the risk of injury/damage that dispersal would cause. As a result, the decision to disperse the crowd violated this policy, and OPA recommended a sustained finding.

In cases 2020OPA-0332 and 2020OPA-0330, OPA's investigation found that when officers arrested individuals for low-level crimes during protests, it led to greater disorder among the crowd than the original crime. OPA did not sustain the allegations in these two cases, as the officers' actions were within policy. However, OPA recommended that SPD modify policy to ensure that officers have discretion to balance the potential to escalate a crowd against the need to make an arrest for a minor crime.

In case 2020OPA-0425, it was alleged that SPD was dishonest in an official tweet. OPA's investigation found that the content of the post was inaccurate but not intentionally so; rather, the tweet was an attempt to disseminate information as quickly as possible under immense pressure. OPA recommended a not sustained finding in this case and issued a recommendation to require chain of command screening of all official social media posts concerning high-profile matters that are reasonably expected to impact community perception of SPD and its activities.

Please visit the Completed Protest Case portion of OPA's demonstration dashboard to read summaries of the remainder of the completed investigations and policy recommendations released today.

Since May 30th, OPA has been contacted over 19,000 times about SPD's conduct at and response to various demonstrations. So far, the emails, phone calls, and other feedback have resulted in 141 investigations. OPA updates its website dashboard every three weeks to show progress into investigations.

December 23, 2020

OPA releases 11 more completed investigations into Seattle police behavior at protests

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released 11 more completed investigations into alleged Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee misconduct at protests following the murder of George Floyd.

In case 2020OPA-0326, multiple complainants alleged a widespread failure by SPD to record Body-Worn Video (BWV) when interacting with protesters, and that this was purposed to conceal acts of misconduct. OPA's investigation found no basis to conclude that this occurred. In fact, the policy in place at the outset of the demonstrations prohibited recording of many of the incidents in question. This was due to both City law and a 2015 determination by SPD, the City, and community stakeholders to not allow recording of First Amendment-protected activities in order to avoid privacy concerns. To bridge this gap, Mayor Durkan issued an executive order in June directing SPD officers to record BWV during demonstrations. OPA subsequently recommended that SPD collaborate with the City and community groups when revising the BWV policy to discuss ways to ensure transparency while still upholding privacy and constitutional protections.

Case 2020OPA-0325 comprised multiple complaints alleging that officers covered their badges with black tape to conceal their identities at protests. At the time, City leaders explained that these were "mourning badges" to honor law enforcement officers who had recently passed away. OPA's investigation found no evidence of a deliberate and systemic attempt of officers to hide their identities. Moreover, OPA discovered that most officers wore name tags that provided their last names and first initials. To clarify the issue, City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting the covering of serial numbers when wearing mourning badges.

The remainder of the allegations within the investigations released today were found to be not sustained. Those case numbers are as follows: 2020OPA-03712020OPA-03792020OPA-04062020OPA-04172020OPA-04202020OPA-04542020OPA-04572020OPA-0553, and 2020OPA-0548.

Since May 30th, OPA has been contacted over 19,000 times about SPD's conduct at and response to various demonstrations. So far, the emails, phone calls, and other feedback have resulted in 137 investigations. OPA updates its website dashboard every three weeks to show progress into investigations.

October 23, 2020

OPA releases second set of investigative findings into Seattle police behavior at protests

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released five more completed investigations into alleged Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee misconduct at protests following the murder of George Floyd.

The incident in case 2020OPA-0363 occurred on June 7th when demonstrators positioned their bodies on the ground to prevent bicycle officers from leaving a barricaded area. One demonstrator was arrested after refusing to move. Video analysis indicates that the involved officer forcibly pushed the demonstrator into the ground, causing injury to the demonstrator's head. OPA found that the force was not proportional because of the lack of resistance on the part of the demonstrator and the lack of a physical threat to the officers. Given this, OPA recommended a sustained finding.

The underlying incident in case 2020OPA-0323 took place on May 29th when officers prohibited demonstrators from walking down a street and one person refused to comply. As officers attempted to take this person into custody, he physically resisted, struggling with two officers on the ground. He hit the officers with a water bottle, and the officers used force to prevent him from engaging in further similar conduct. OPA concluded that the force used by one officer was appropriate under the circumstances, given that it was an immediate reaction to the threat. However, OPA also concluded that the six to eight punches used by the other officer were excessive, particularly because he failed to modulate his force as the threat subsided. As such, OPA recommended a sustained finding for this officer.

The other findings released today were for cases 2020OPA-0402 (not sustained), 2020OPA-0438 (not sustained), and 2020OPA-0383 (not sustained).OPA compiled a short video to show the incident in 2020OPA-0383.

Since May 30th, OPA has been contacted over 19,000 times about SPD's conduct at and response to various demonstrations. So far, the emails, phone calls, and other feedback have resulted in 126 cases. OPA is now updating its website dashboard every three weeks to show progress into demonstration-related complaint investigations.

September 24, 2020

OPA requests criminal investigation after officer rolls bicycle over person

Seattle - OPA is investigating the SPD officer who rolled a bicycle over an individual lying on the ground.

The Seattle Police Department's Force Investigation Team (FIT) responded to the incident at 2:40 a.m. and notified OPA. OPA staff responded to monitor the investigation. From a review of the video posted on Twitter, FIT identified potential violations of SPD policy, as well as potential criminal conduct. FIT accordingly referred the matter to OPA.

At 5:00 a.m., after further analyzing the video and observing the interviews conducted by FIT, OPA requested that a criminal investigation be conducted. OPA asked that the investigation to be done by an outside law enforcement agency, and SPD agreed. We are awaiting confirmation on the identity of that agency.

We will provide additional information as it becomes available, including the case number. So far, OPA has received over 30 complaints concerning this incident.

September 18, 2020

OPA releases first set of findings after in-depth investigations into police behavior at protests

Seattle - Today the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released five completed investigations into alleged Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee misconduct at protests following the murder of George Floyd.

OPA was contacted nearly 13,000 times about case 2020OPA-0322, an incident in which a young boy was affected by pepper spray. OPA's review of bystander and body-worn video found that the boy was not individually targeted. He and his father moved towards a protester who had grabbed an officer's baton and was pushing into the police line. An SPD supervisor used pepper spray to move the protester back. In response, the protester ducked, causing the pepper spray to inadvertently affect the boy and his father. OPA deemed the use of pepper spray on the protester consistent with policy based on the protester's actions. While the impact to the boy was an unfortunate result, he was not visible on the video at the time of the pepper spraying and therefore could not have been seen by the supervisor.

Case 2020OPA-0324 involved allegations that an officer used excessive force when he placed his knee on an individual's neck during an arrest. OPA did not see evidence that suggested the officer intended to impair the demonstrators' breathing or use a neck or carotid restraint. However, OPA identified that the officer's knee was on the individual's neck for around 13 seconds. This use of force was found to be improper and inconsistent with SPD policy and training. OPA also found that the officer made statements that violated SPD's professionalism policy. This case is currently before Interim Chief Diaz to determine discipline to be imposed.

The other findings released today were for cases 2020OPA-0375 (not sustained), 2020OPA-0348 (sustained), and 2020OPA-0350 (not sustained).  

Since May 30th, OPA has been contacted approximately 19,000 times (including the 13,000 mentioned above) about SPD's conduct at and response to various demonstrations. So far, the emails, phone calls, and other feedback have resulted in 118 cases. OPA updates a website dashboard every two weeks showing progress into demonstration-related complaint investigations and will continue to issue findings on a rolling basis.

June 12, 2020

OPA creates dashboard so public can track progress of investigations into SPD conduct at recent demonstrations

Seattle, WA - The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) created a website dashboard showing progress into demonstration-related complaint investigations. OPA has been contacted over 17,000 times about SPD conduct at demonstrations over the past two weeks. At this point, the emails, phone calls, and other feedback boil down to 17 primary complaints, listed below. OPA is fully investigating each of these complaints.

The website has graphics representing the progress achieved thus far in each of the 17 investigations. Above each graphic is the OPA case number and specific case allegation. Below each graphic are the "next steps" in the investigation, which give the public some insight into what an investigation entails.

The dashboard shows that as of today, all 17 cases are between 30% and 50% complete. OPA is committed to finishing the investigations as quickly as possible while still abiding by legal and contractual timelines. The dashboard will be updated as investigations progress.

  1. 2020OPA-0322 Child pepper sprayed (May 30)
  2. 2020OPA-0323 Excessive force - punching (May 29)
  3. 2020OPA-0324 Officer knee on necks (May 30)
  4. 2020OPA-0325 Officer identification issues (multiple days)
  5. 2020OPA-0326 Body-worn video not activated (multiple days)
  6. 2020OPA-0327 Pepper spray use against protestors (multiple days)
  7. 2020OPA-0328 Flashbang thumb injury (May 30)
  8. 2020OPA-0329 Unsecured rifles in SPD vehicle (May 30)
  9. 2020OPA-0330 Excessive force - punching (May 30)
  10. 2020OPA-0331 Officers damaging storefront (May 30)
  11. 2020OPA-0332 Excessive force - neck restraint (June 1)
  12. 2020OPA-0333 Flashbang injury - reporter (June 1)
  13. 2020OPA-0334 Overly aggressive crowd dispersal tactics (multiple days)
  14. 2020OPA-0335 Flashbang injury - man sleeping (June 1)
  15. 2020OPA-0337 Police radio threat against protestors (June 3)
  16. 2020OPA-0344 Flashbang injury - woman (June 7)
  17. 2020OPA-0345 Tear gas use post 30-day ban (June 7)

June 3, 2020

OPA asks witnesses to help with investigation surrounding girl pepper sprayed during Saturday's protest

Seattle, WA - The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) is seeking information from any community members who may have witnessed the girl getting pepper sprayed at a demonstration on Saturday. While being mindful of the trauma this incident has caused the girl and her family, we would like to speak with the girl's family/guardians to gain their perspective on what occurred.

Due to the immense public concern surrounding this incident, OPA is working to complete this investigation in 60 days rather than the standard 180 days provided in the Seattle police labor contracts. During these 60 days, OPA will be reviewing body-worn video/community member video/other evidence, interviewing the involved employee and community member/officer witnesses, drafting case findings, and seeking external review from the Office of Inspector General. While we understand that 60 days sounds like an eternity, conducting a thorough investigation takes time.

In response to questions posed on social media regarding the identity of the officer in question, OPA is prohibited from releasing the names of employees who are investigated. However, we are committed to providing as much information as legally possible regarding the status of this investigation.

We promise a complete and fair accounting of what occurred, and we pledge to do so in a timely fashion.

June 1, 2020

OPA processing 12,000 complaints after weekend demonstrations

SEATTLE, WA - The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recognizes the community's anger and sadness following the death of George Floyd. We whole-heartedly support the movement for equitable policing across the nation.

OPA has received approximately 12,000 individual complaints concerning the Seattle Police Department's (SPD) response to this weekend's demonstrations. We are currently reviewing and processing these complaints. The resulting investigations will be our top priority moving forward.

Below are the ten specific incidents about which OPA has received the most complaints. We have assigned each a case number that can be used to track the progress online of the corresponding investigation. These investigations will be civilian-led and as transparent as possible given the law and police collective bargaining agreements. We will complete our investigations quickly due to the immense public concern and will provide updates via our website and Twitter.

  1. Pepper spraying a young girl (Saturday): 2020OPA-0322
  2. Punching a person on the ground who was being arrested (Friday): 2020OPA-0323
  3. Placing a knee on the neck area of two people who had been arrested (Saturday): 2020OPA-0324
  4. Covering up badge numbers: 2020OPA-0325
  5. Failing to record law enforcement activity on body-worn video: 2020OPA-0326
  6. Pepper spraying peaceful protestors (Saturday): 2020OPA-0327
  7. The use of flashbangs, including causing a significant thumb injury (Saturday): 2020OPA-0328
  8. Failing to secure rifles in the rear of a patrol vehicle (Saturday): 2020OPA-0329
  9. Punching a person on the ground who was being arrested (Sunday): 2020OPA-0330
  10. Officers breaking windows of a Target store (date unknown): 2020OPA-0331

Please note that we will not prejudge any actions prior to finishing our investigations. We respectfully caution the public about reaching findings without having all the evidence.

We also urge the public to allow the system created by the Police Accountability Ordinance to carry out its respective responsibilities. This includes not only OPA's investigative duties, but the Inspector General's systemic review and the Community Police Commission's raising of community concerns. The system was built to respond to these incidents, and OPA is confident that all involved will do so ethically and to the best of their ability.

We encourage community members to continue filing complaints. We are working to ensure space on our voicemail, but if you are unable to leave a message, please file a complaint via our web form. If you have video that you think may be useful, please include a link to it.

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."

Office of Police Accountability

Gino Betts, Director
Address: 720 3rd Avenue, 18th Floor, Seattle, WA , 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34986, Seattle, WA , 98124-4986
Phone: (206) 684-8797
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