Seattle police officer pulled from patrol after arrest of elderly man with golf club

Jan 28, 2015, 12:59 PM | Updated: Jan 29, 2015, 5:05 pm
Deputy Chief Carmen Best is shown with William Wingate after apologizing for his arrest and returni...
Deputy Chief Carmen Best is shown with William Wingate after apologizing for his arrest and returning his golf club. (Rep. Dawn Mason via SPD)
(Rep. Dawn Mason via SPD)

UPDATE: The Seattle Police Department announced Thursday it has removed an officer involved in the controversial arrest of an elderly man walking with a golf club from public patrol duties.

The reassignment was ordered by Mayor Ed Murray following public outcry over the incident, captured on police dashboard video showing the officer aggressively approaching the man.

SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole announced the review of conduct and supervision for Officer Cynthia Whitlatch on the Seattle Police Blotter.

“Today [Wednesday] I heard many concerns from community members about the conduct of an SPD officer assigned to the East Precinct,” she wrote on the SPD Blotter.

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement:

“I am very disappointed by these incidents. They are both concerning to me.

“While I support the Chief’s decision yesterday to call for a more comprehensive review of the overall conduct and performance of the officer involved – considering there were two incidents with this officer in the same summer – there appear to be lapses in our protocols.

“I’ve directed the Chief to look not just at the officer’s conduct, but all the circumstances and decisions related to these incidences. We must do more to reform our system to restore the public’s trust in our police department so that everyone feels safe in our communities.

“After meeting with the Chief this morning, we agreed she will conduct a comprehensive management investigation and transfer the officer to non-patrol duties for the time being.”

Here is the orginal story:

The Seattle Police Department has apologized to a 69-year-old man and returned his golf club following a dispute with an officer that led to his arrest.

The apology and meeting with the man followed an inquiry by former state Rep. Dawn Mason, who questioned why the man was arrested.

SPD has released a dashboard video of the July 9 incident, which shows an officer approaching the man after he reportedly swung his golf club and struck a stop sign as she drove past him near the intersection of 11th Avenue and East Pike Street, the female officer said in a report.

Related: Police busting more people for talking, texting while driving

In the video, the female officer can be seen and heard pulling up to the intersection and repeatedly ordering him to set the golf club down, accusing him of swinging the club at her.

He refuses, shouting “I’ve been walking with this golf club for 20 years.”

The man demands the officer call for someone else to come to the scene and oversee the encounter.

After multiple requests for him to put the club down, the female officer finally approaches and detains him without incident, with the assistance of another officer who responded to the scene.

Police ultimately arrested the man and booked him into the King County Jail for obstruction and harassment, according to the Seattle Police Department blotter.

After Mason contacted police officials, the City Attorney’s Office and SPD reviewed the case and recommended it be dropped.

Mason, Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Deputy Chief Carmen Best organized a subsequent community discussion between neighbors and cops about both the case and community relations in general, police said.

Best met with the man, apologized, and returned his golf club.

“Information sources typically highlight the things that go wrong between the community and police,” Mason said in a statement. “I believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to also highlight the things that go right. That’s what happened here – this one is a win.”

The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, SPD reports.

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Seattle police officer pulled from patrol after arrest of elderly man with golf club