Rantz: Bodycam shows Seattle racism victim wrong in cop complaint
A Seattle kindergarten teacher’s claims about an interaction with police over a bias incident went viral. Much of what Kert Lin wrote isn’t true, bodycam footage reveals.
The incident reportedly began as a traffic argument, as Lin, 35, was driving in the Home Depot parking lot in SoDo. There was a verbal altercation about being cut off. On Facebook, Lin says the man addressed him with a racist expletive, and told him to “open your eyes [and] go back to China.”
Online, Lin implored people to “request the footage.” I did just that and now I can clear the cop.
Bodycam footage tells much different story
After calling 911 on May 12, a Seattle police officer met with the victim to go over the incident. But Lin wasn’t happy with the interaction, claiming the officer repeatedly lied to him. Lin outlined his complaints on Facebook, leading to favorable media coverage for him. Had the media outlets seen the bodycam footage, they may have written a different story.
On Facebook, Lin dove right into the controversy:
I called Seattle Police Department. Officer [redacted by KTTH for privacy] responded and said no crime was committed, that man was exercising his first amendment rights. No law broken, no report taken.
In The Seattle Times, Lin portrays the officer as dismissive: “He said ‘nope, uh-uh, there’s nothing,’ Lin said.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Officer was sympathetic throughout the entire interaction
It’s true that the officer said no crime was committed because, well, no crime was committed. But to portray the officer as dismissive betrays reality.
“It sounds like he’s being a jerk and you could probably come up with some other colorful words for what he was being, if he’s using inappropriate terms, trying to insult you,” the officer politely tells Lin. “But if there is not a crime committed, we can’t detain and take enforcement action.”
The officer condemned the language used against Lin, calling it “an affront to social decency.”
“Trust me, I agree with you,” the officer sympathized. “They should not be jerks, and they should not be speaking to you that way. I don’t speak to people that way. I’m sure, it sounds like, you don’t speak that way to people. But there are people that are rude and even beyond rude — socially unacceptable.”
The officer even spoke about the importance of acting “decently with people and try[ing] to be the best example [and] raise our kids to be decent people.”
Lin says the officer lied about protocol. This is false.
Via his Facebook post, Lin went on to claim the officer “lied” on multiple occasions over the Seattle Police Department’s community response strategy to bias incidents.
I pressed on this. I asked what the community response would be. Officer [redacted] said he knew of no directive from HQ or SPD regarding racism, particularly racism toward Asian Americans. I asked multiple times and he outright lied every time. I discovered that ALL SPD officers have signed off indicating they understand the SPD protocol, which is ANY TIME A 911 CALL IS MADE REGARDING RACIAL HARASSMENT, AN INCIDENT REPORT MUST BE MADE.
There’s only a kernel of truth to this claim. It’s true he asked about a community response to racism. But Lin implies the officer “lied” about reports being written.
The officer did write a report. It is true that the report wasn’t initially going to be made, but the officer quickly called Lin to say he would file a report and offer him the incident number. On Facebook, three days after the incident, Lin claimed “no report taken,” which was completely false at the time. In fact, Lin knew it was false. That makes it a lie.
Additionally, the officer followed protocol in handling hate bias incidents in line with the PSA released by Police Chief Carmen Best, recommending people to call 911, even if just to report name-calling. The officer repeatedly tells Lin that he should call 911 to report any racial incident, even if it’s not a legal matter.
“And if you feel unsafe, call us and we can always show up,” the officer tells Lin. “Even if it’s not criminal, we can tell them to go away.”
The only quasi-reference to “HQ” was when the officer said he couldn’t speak for command staff on specific community, non-policing responses.
Understandably angry but ill-placed attention on police
Lin was upset during the interaction with the office. I don’t blame him. If someone used a slur against me, I would also be angry. But the officer handled the interaction with compassion, despite Lin’s anger and frustration related to the bias incident. The officer didn’t “lie” about protocol. He very clearly stuck to it.
“[T]hey cannot ignore the violence and harassment continuing in our community,” Lin wrote.
But the SPD did no such thing. In the very interaction, Lin mentions he’s literally working directly with the SPD in Chinatown to combat the hate. That’s the opposite of ignoring.
Days after the incident, Lin felt a calling to bring attention to the issue. I’m glad he did. But taking out his anger on the police, instead of on the actual racism, is counter-productive to a more meaningful and honest cause. You can falsely accuse a cop of wrongdoing, forcing him to go through a complaint process, then have nothing come of it. But what purpose does that serve exactly?
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. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook.