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R&D: Seattle firefighters should be fired for homeless assault


There’s plenty of outrage over the King County Prosecutors Office decision not to charge two Seattle firefighters for assaulting a pair of homeless men in Pioneer Square. And both KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don argue regardless of why the men won’t face felony charges, they should be fired.

The Prosecutors Office announced Tuesday it did not have enough evidence to charge Scott Bullene,45, and Robert Howell,46, for allegedly assaulting the men after a woman with them began berating one of the men laying on the Fallen Firefighter memorial in an alcohol-fueled altercation.

One of the homeless men stabbed Bullene, apparently in self-defense, after the firefighters beat him with his stick.

A number of people witnessed the assault, including “Andrew,” who told KIRO Radio it was a vicious attack on the homeless man.

“It wasn’t a fair fight. This was two people who were probably north of 250 (pounds), strong, in good shape, beating on a little homeless guy…that’s unacceptable,” he said.

But Ian Goodhew, Deputy Chief of Staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson the homeless man refused to cooperate with the prosecution, and without his corroboration they couldn’t charge the firefighters regardless of what witnesses said.

“He simply wasn’t interested in being a part of any court process,” Goodhew said. “We have to operate with the facts and the law that we’re given. And in this situation, when we don’t have consistent evidence to prove that charge beyond a reasonable doubt, we can’t file a charge, but that by no means exonerates anyone’s behavior.”

The pair could still be charged with misdemeanors by the Seattle City Attorney after the case was forwarded to that office. But Don argues far more needs to be done.

“This is an outrage,” Don responds. He’s calling on Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean and Mayor Ed Murray to do all they can to fire the pair. “This is where Mayor Murray better show that he is the mayor of frickin’ Seattle, Washington. And he better step up and he better clean house and he better take care of this, because this is not going to be swiped under the rug.”

Dean issued a public apology soon after the incident but did not comment Tuesday. A spokesperson for the department tells KIRO Radio an independent review is underway and the chief will respond once it is concluded.

“Now show us you’re very, very sorry,” Don responds. “Fire them and go against the union. That’s what you have attorneys for.”

While Ron and Don vehemently support firefighters, police and military members regularly on their show, Ron says the decision not to charge the pair reeks of collusion and damages public trust.

“This undermines the trust that the community has with firefighters,” agrees Ron. “So the next time a firefighter needs any sort of assistance or any kind of support from the community we’re still going to be there, but it’s harder to now do that because of actions like this.”

But Goodhew insists the decision not to charge the pair had nothing to do with their jobs, and everything to do with the law.

“Their status as firefighters had no relevance to this criminal decision whatsoever as to whether to file charges or not,” he said.

That’s little comfort to Ron and Don.

“I can’t believe a Seattle firefighter went to a Sounders game and then went down to Pioneer Square, allegedly picked a fight, got himself stabbed and now he’s sitting at home, and all of us are paying for him to sit at home. And then the other one that was involved in the fight, he was on disability at the time. How could he fight if he was on disability?”

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