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Rantz: King County won’t charge criminals assaulting cops while resisting arrest

Seattle police make an arrest on May Day 2017. (Hanna Scott, KIRO 7)

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg will “not file [charges] when the assault can be best described as resisting” an arrest from an officer, his office confirms. This position is deeply troubling to law enforcement officers, and King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht says “we need to rethink this.”

This news comes as the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH was tipped off to an incident, where a King County Sheriff’s deputy was kicked in the groin by a 20-year-old female suspect in tall leather boots. She appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.

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After Satterberg’s office reviewed the case, the suspect was not charged with assaulting the officer.

King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office confirmed, in an email statement via a spokesperson, that they will only charge assault in the third degree, “if the assault can best be described as an intentional attack on the officer and the officer has an injury or experiences significant pain as a result of the assault.”

“From my reading of the deputy’s report, I would say it would seem like it was an intentional kick at the deputy,” Sheriff Johanknecht said. “And that I truly believe him when he says he was in pain about that. You know there’s all kinds of things that come into play here, as you know, as to filing guidelines and all those other things … but I believe the deputy was hurt, not enough to, thank goodness, be hospitalized. But a lot of pain.”

Satterberg’s office received the case for filing on April 3, 2019, declining to charge on assault on April 5.

“Certainly, the suspect’s mental state did not diminish the pain the officer involved experienced as a result of her actions, but it does affect our ability to prove an intentional assault,” the spokesperson explained

Bigger implications

The groin-kicking incident without charges upsets deputies I’ve spoken to, there is a greater implication to the decision by Satterberg. By refusing to charge anyone that injures an officer as a result of simply refusing arrest, aren’t you encouraging this kind of behavior?

A spokesperson for Satterberg’s office says law enforcement is aware of the charging guidelines, which is “directly from our written Felony Filing and Disposition Standards (FADS).” They are, indeed, aware of them. But many don’t support them.

“It’s insane,” one deputy told the Jason Rantz Show.

A second deputy tells me, “That [standard] is wrong on so many levels and makes it open season on LEO’s. It’s infuriating.”

Johanknecht is certainly aware of the policy, but thinks it’s not well-known enough to the public.

“I think the general public would be surprised by how the filing standards describe that from the prosecutor’s office,” Johanknecht explains. “Again, to be clear, I’m not trying to be critical of Mr. Satterberg’s office. I’m just coming from the law enforcement slant of this … you know, we do go out of the way in training to try to avoid physical contact with people … There are just times when you have to place your hands on people and when they resist, it is very frustrating. Very frustrating for me, very frustrating for my deputies.”

What is more frustrating for deputies is if a suspect knows they won’t be charged in an assault while resisting arrest. It will likely lead to situations where law enforcement will be forced to physically control a suspect. That could lead to injuries for the officers, as well as the suspect.

Johanknecht hopes “there’s opportunity to compromise on some of these things since every law enforcement agency deals with this more regularly each and every day.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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