It's been nearly two years since Seattle police detective Shandy Cobane was caught on camera and suspended for stomping on a Latino suspect's leg and shouting he was going to "beat the (expletive) Mexican piss" out of him in April 2010. And KIRO Radio's Don O'Neill is criticizing a new report that says Cobane has been given a "plum assignment" in the SPD robbery unit.
KING 5 reports Cobane has been assigned to what is considered "one of the most prestigious units" in the department despite a promise by Chief John Diaz Cobane would be transferred to street patrol as punishment.
But despite the implication that Cobane is receiving special treatment, Don argues it's the exact opposite. While Cobane wasn't assigned to patrol, he was instead assigned to an administrative job for the last two years.
"I talked to Shandy about where he wanted to be sent. He wanted to be on patrol," Don says. "Chief Diaz sent him to a desk. And when you're a cop, you don't want to be sitting at a desk."
Cobane tearfully apologized after the incident, was demoted and given a 30-day suspension without pay in May 2011.
Don points out Cobane was a highly respected member of the gang unit who paid a hefty price for the incident, which he argues was sensationalized to begin with.
"His job was to talk to gang members. And it's not an easy thing to do," Don says. "He's a humble guy, he's a good guy, you talk to other cops about him and they say if there's any guy that you would want to have out on the street that knows how to handle himself with gang members and also knows how to handle himself in a tough situation it's Shandy Cobane."
Don says even gang members have told him Cobane was fair and smart, and more than one said they actually liked him.
Don says after two years, Cobane has more than paid his dues and his expertise is sorely needed in the fight against crime, especially with gangs tied to many of the major robberies taking place in the city.
"The modern day gang is the modern day mafia," Don says. "If you have a guy out there who has spent over a decade of his life and he understands all the gangs, and he understands where they hang out, and he understands their tags, and he understands where they live[...] it would make sense if you're Chief Diaz to go hey, it's been a couple of years."
Don urges KING 5 to speak with Cobane rather than a disgruntled, anonymous officer who was reportedly the initial source of the story complaining about the recent assignment.
"What kind of message does that send? That's a sought-after job. Lots of officers would like to be there. Why is that behavior being rewarded?" the officer told KING 5.
SPD Public Information Officer Mark Jamieson disagreed that Cobane is being rewarded. "He's been through the wringer," said Jamieson. Jamieson also said the chief did not promise to demote Cobane to patrol but instead "left the future open."
While Cobane works robbery part time, Jamieson told KING 5 he is also continuing to work extensively in community outreach with the Latino community, along with mentoring young men in Seattle's Central District.