Washington Supreme Court to hear case over identities of SPD officers in DC on Jan. 6

Aug 6, 2021, 9:50 AM | Updated: 10:57 am
Crowd of rioters, January, Epik6, Capitol, officers...
Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of Washington State has agreed to hear a case involving six Seattle police officers who were in Washington, D.C., during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, who later sued over public records requests that sought to disclose their names.

Decision on officers at Capitol during Jan. 6 riot falls to SPD chief

Court Commissioner Michael Johnston said the question of whether the officers can remain anonymous is of considerable public interest. That has the Seattle Police Department’s police union confident in its chances of prevailing.

“It is a positive development,” Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “It shows that our position is real, and that the process we’ve agreed upon is being taken seriously by the court.”

In March, an appeals court in Washington extended a restraining order preventing the release of the six officers’ names, after the City of Seattle had originally planned to publish their identities as part of an update on the then-active investigation into their conduct.

The officers argue that they fear for their safety and reputations should their names become public.

“Public servants should be able to protect their privacy interests, especially when a comprehensive investigation has proven that they’ve done nothing wrong, and the four here, according to (the Office of Police Accountability), have done nothing wrong,” Solan noted.

All six officers were in Washington, D.C., for Donald Trump’s now-infamous rally at the White House, but claimed they were not part of the ensuing riots at the U.S. Capitol. A subsequent investigation from Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability found that at least two of the officers broke the law while there.

Seattle council digs in to OPA report on complaints against SPD from 2020

Still images from Jan. 6 provided by the FBI appeared to indicate that they were both standing in a restricted area “directly next to the wall of the Capitol Building” while rioters were scaling walls and scaffoldings, and beginning to illegally breach the building. While neither officer attempted to enter the Capitol building themselves, OPA Director Andrew Myerberg’s ruling centered on their presence in an area prohibited to the public, and their lack of action while others were breaking the law.

Another three officers were cleared of any wrongdoing, while the investigation into a fourth officer was inconclusive.

The OPA recommended that interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz fire the two officers found to have broken the law.

The Supreme Court will soon set a time for oral arguments in the case.

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Washington Supreme Court to hear case over identities of SPD officers in DC on Jan. 6