LOCAL NEWS

2 Seattle police officers in Washington DC during riot placed on leave

Jan 9, 2021, 7:41 AM | Updated: Jan 11, 2021, 3:45 pm
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)...
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

Two Seattle police officers were placed on administrative leave after the department was made aware that they were reportedly in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday. It has not yet been determined if the two officers entered the U.S. Capitol building with the mob or if they broke any federal laws.

Chief Adrian Diaz said Friday that the Office of Police Accountability will investigate whether the officers violated any Seattle Police Department policies and “if any potential illegal activities need be referred for criminal investigation.”

The officers have been placed on leave while the OPA investigates.

Chief Diaz said that if any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection, he will immediately terminate them.

“The Department fully supports all lawful expressions of First Amendment freedom of speech, but the violent mob and events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol were unlawful and resulted in the death of another police officer,” Diaz said.

Andrew Myerberg, director of the OPA, said: “At this point, we are aware of two current SPD officers who are believed to have attended the protests in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. We do not yet know the extent of their participation and will be determining this as we proceed through the case. We will also be investigating whether there were any other SPD employees who may have been involved.”

On Monday, Diaz explained that a member of the department reported social media photos that two officers had posted showing that they were in Washington, D.C. When Diaz referred this case to the OPA for investigation, he says it was not apparent where the photos were taken exactly or if those in the photos took part in attacking the U.S. Capitol building.

“I placed the identified officers on administrative leave because of the significance of what occurred in Washington, D.C.,” Diaz said.

“I did this considering that participating in a political event on their own time, out of uniform, violates no policy or law,” he added. “I do not want to limit anyone’s ability to lawfully participate in First Amendment activities. The large number of people who forced their way into the Capitol, connected to the earlier political rally, presented too much of an unknown about whether any of our employees had potentially violated federal law. That is why I had to act.”

If the OPA finds evidence that the officers were directly involved in the events at the U.S. Capitol, Diaz says they will be fired and the information will be shared with federal officials.

“I made it very clear when I assumed this position that any violation of community trust or any action that threatens our ability to serve this city will be met with full accountability,” he said. “We cannot violate the same laws we are sworn to protect. We cannot allow violent or intimidating direct action to become acceptable in our society.”

Diaz again repeated that if any SPD employee participated in the attack of the U.S. Capitol, he will terminate them.

“This department does not believe in or support this type of behavior,” he said.

Even if nothing against policy or law happened in this case, Diaz explained, it needed to be reviewed.

KIRO 7 TV contributed to this report.

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2 Seattle police officers in Washington DC during riot placed on leave