MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Federal judge finds Seattle police out of compliance on accountability

May 15, 2019, 12:19 PM | Updated: 4:18 pm

Seattle Police, consent decree...

(AP)

(AP)

KIRO 7 TV’s Essex Porter reported Wednesday that a federal judge has ruled the Seattle Police Department is partially out of compliance with a 2012 consent decree. His ruling specifically regarded accountability for disciplined officers.

RELATED: DOJ lawyers side with Seattle police over new contract
RELATED: District court releases findings on Seattle police contract

U.S. District Judge James Robart’s decision was multi-faceted, stating that while SPD was still aligned with the consent decree when it comes to use-of-force, it was still out-of-compliance in other key aspects.

Robart cited concern over one recent incident, where Seattle Officer Adley Shepherd was fired after punching a handcuffed woman in the back of his patrol car, before getting reinstated by an arbitrator. The judge showed video of the incident to the courtroom to emphasize his point regarding a system of accountability in need of improvement.

As recently as February, Department of Justice attorneys had argued that the circumstances surrounding Officer Shepherd’s reinstatement were merely “an individual incident,” and not an indication that the city was out of compliance.

This could potentially threaten the recently-signed police union contract, with Judge Robart calling for a reform to the appeals process for disciplined officers.

The new police contract was passed by city council in November by an 8-1 margin, with Councilmember Kshama Sawant operating as the lone vote in opposition. In the lead-up to its passage, many advocacy groups had argued that it rolled back necessary measures for police accountability, related to limits placed on misconduct investigations.

Mayor Durkan expressed her support for the contract shortly after it was passed. The DOJ also noted in February that the contract aligned with the consent decree.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild said it would “refrain from commenting” until it can read Judge Robart’s order in full, written form. SPOG President Kevin Stuckey also said that the guild has “a valid contract that was negotiated in good faith, ratified by our membership, and signed into law by Mayor Durkan.”

In his Wednesday ruling, Robart went on to praise SPD for making improvements in other areas, noting that he is “very proud of the Seattle police,” and that “the force is better trained, better led, and more in tune with the times.”

The consent decree was originally passed in 2012 — led by then-U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan — after a DOJ investigation “found a pattern or practice of excessive force that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.” The decree now operates as a means to eliminate unconstitutional policing.

MyNorthwest News

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 20, 2024. (...

Bill Kaczaraba

Bellevue man donates $1 million to Trump super PAC

A Bellevue man donated $1 million to a Political Action Committee (PAC) that supports Donald Trump just a day after he became a convicted felon.

1 hour ago

Photo: Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson....

James Lynch

Auburn Officer Jeff Nelson’s fate now in hands of jury

It has been five years since Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed 26-year-old Jesse Sarey who was going through a crisis.

3 hours ago

Queen Anne, Uptown, parking...

Bill Kaczaraba

Power company investigating early morning outage to Queen Anne, Magnolia

Seattle City Light wants to know why 10,000 customers lost power in the early morning hours on Saturday.

4 hours ago

Image: A Seattle Police Department vehicle can be seen parked in the city of Seattle....

Bill Kaczaraba

Police search for suspects in West Seattle fatal shooting

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Seattle Police detectives launched an investigation into a fatal shooting in West Seattle.

5 hours ago

Photo: Medics respond to a crash in SeaTac on June 21, 2024....

Julia Dallas

1 killed, several others injured in major SeaTac car crash

Five people and two cars were involved in a violent car crash in SeaTac on Friday, the King County Sheriff's Office told KIRO Newsradio.

22 hours ago

Photo: Lacey police are investigating a deadly shooting....

KIRO 7 News Staff

21-year-old arrested in Lacey double murder after police chase

A 21-year-old man led police on a chase following the murder of two people whom he lived with in Lacey.

23 hours ago

Federal judge finds Seattle police out of compliance on accountability