JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Dem law led to K-9 line of duty death but Seattle activists blame police

Jan 9, 2022, 12:05 PM | Updated: Jan 10, 2022, 7:20 am
K-9, SPD...
(Image: Jason Rantz)
(Image: Jason Rantz)

Washington Democrats passed a series of anti-police laws pitched as “reimaging” public safety. A police K-9 from the Seattle Police Department is dead because of it. Perhaps that’s why anti-police activists in Seattle are blaming the cops for the K-9’s death: They don’t want to take responsibility for pushing Democrats to pass such dangerous laws.

Police responded to a break-in at a home in South Seattle. The homeowner reported the man was armed with a machete. After police arrived, the suspect fatally stabbed the K-9 officer, Jedi. He also cut the face of an officer. The suspect was then shot and killed by police.

The SPD had the perfect non-lethal weapon to subdue the burglar without using a K-9. But Democrats in the state legislature banned the weapon because it’s a large caliber weapon. Without consulting law enforcement officials, the Democrats foolishly thought a large caliber weapon is inherently deadly.

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K-9 was killed on duty but it didn’t need to happen

A panicked homeowner called 911 on the afternoon of Jan. 5 to report a home intruder. You can hear someone else in the home yell at the man to “get out of here.”

“He’s got a knife,” the man told the operator. “He’s threatening us with it. He’s got a machete.”

When police arrived, they spotted the burglar identified only as a Hispanic male. He was only wearing a bath towel around his waist. He refused to comply with police orders. He was carrying a knife in addition to the machete, according to bodycam footage released by the SPD. (Warning: The bodycam footage is extremely graphic.)

“He’s got a machete, he’s got a machete,” an officer says while holding on to the police dog, Jedi.

The suspect briefly runs towards a sergeant on the scene, raising the machete. As the officer yells, “Sarge, he’s got a [redacted] machete,” the suspect then turns and starts to run towards traffic. He is repeatedly warned to stop, but he continues to run.

But then he stops, turns to officers, points at them, and yells. He, again, walks away.

“I’m going to send the dog, or he’s going to get [redacted] shot though,” the officer said to his sergeant.

The officer releases Jedi, who immediately lunges at the suspect.

The suspect hacks at Jedi multiple times with the machete before stabbing him multiple times with a knife. As the officer reaches to subdue the suspect and help save his dog, he’s attacked, grabs his face, and falls back. Another officer on the scene responds by fatally shooting the suspect.

Non-lethal tool was banned by Washington Democrats

This incident did not have to end this way. An officer wouldn’t have been hurt and a K-9 would not have been killed if these officers would have been able to use a weapon banned by Democrats in the state legislature.

HB 1054 banned the use of large-caliber firearms and ammunition. Rushed through by Democrats to capitalize on the anti-police sentiment and egged on by activists, the bill made no exception for non-lethal versions like beanbag or 40mm sponge-tipped rounds.

A current Seattle police officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity since they are not authorized to speak to the media, says a 40mm launcher could have prevented this.

“I say this with 100% certainty, having years of experience in patrol and SWAT, and having worked beside K-9 more times than I can count. Had responding officers had 40mm launchers to deploy on that suspect, Jedi would almost certainly be alive today. The suspect might also be alive today, receiving treatment,” the officer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

According to this officer, the non-lethal 40mm launcher would have allowed the officers on scene to “achieve compliance from combative and dangerous suspects from behind cover, and at a safer distance.”

“Officers should not be forced to put themselves, or their highly trained K-9s, into deadly encounters simply because feckless politicians stole their effective tools for safety,” the officer said.

“These deaths lie not at the feet of the brave SPD officers and Jedi, but at the feet of city and state politicians who put their politics above the need for public safety,” the officer added.

There’s confusion and little trust

State Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) worked on the package of anti-police bills. He admits that HB 1054 was rushed and that not exempting non-lethal weapons was done in error.

“Nobody caught it, nobody pointed it out,” he told KUOW.

Goodman explained that if any officer uses the banned weapons, he or she will not be disciplined. But that’s not how laws work. If an officer is sued for using a non-lethal weapon, especially if it does not go as planned and inadvertently causes serious harm, judges do not consider the promises of state lawmakers. They look at what the law says.

It’s why so many departments pulled the non-lethal weapons from use, including the sheriff’s office from both King and Snohomish counties, plus police departments in Spokane, Bellevue, and Everett. It’s a move meant to comply with the law while protecting its officers from legal consequences.

SPD is an exception — with a huge caveat

While other departments complied with the law, SPD interim chief Adrian Diaz said he would not pull the non-lethal weapons.

“While the plain language of HB 1054 would, when strictly construed and read in isolation, prohibit this tool as military equipment, I am of increasing confidence that it was not the intent of the legislature to do so, and that the legislature will make that clear,” Diaz wrote.

But most of his officers won’t use — or carry — the 40mm or other non-lethal weapons.

“Most people won’t carry them because of HB 1310,” a second officer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “There’s no faith Command will back them if something happens using it. It would have been ideal in the last OIS [officer involved shooting] though.”

This second officer says “there is a strong belief” by officers that a 40mm would have been appropriate in subduing the machete-wielding suspect.

“People keep saying we are misinterpreting the law, but police don’t interpret law, we go off it as written. If someone gets a brain bleed from a missed 40mm shot or they duck into it, we believe the Command and city would throw us under the bus,” the officer said. “That’s a very widespread view. It’s argued every time it’s brought up.”

The officer says they “haven’t heard of anyone that stills carries them.”

Activists blame cops — it’s what they do

It’s no shock that anti-police activists blame the cops for the death of Jedi. They care about the K-9 only as much as they can use him to criticize the police. They even pretend that the burglar, armed with a machete and knife, posed no threat. But it was their support of the anti-police strategies that pushed Democrats into passing the dangerous laws.

One teacher asked for “prayers for the person brutally attacked by a dog and subsequently murdered by police” after a woman tweeted prayers for the officer and K-9. Similarly, one user tweeted, “it is sad that spd trains dogs to be violent and reactive and then unleashes them on civilians! a real shame.”

The Urbanist contributor and Microsoft manager Paul Chapman trolled people sending their support to the SPD. He claimed that “the cops executed a person.”

The most ghoulish and disingenuous analysis came from Sade Smith. She is a virulently anti-police radical and abolitionist lawyer and she defended the suspect.

Smith says he was acting in self-defense and his killing of the dog was “reasonable.”

“If they [police] wanted to track the person they should’ve leashed the dog. They wanted to severely hurt the person. I’ve seen pics of cop dog attack wounds. It’s horrific. Stabbing the dog to stop an attack is reasonable,” she tweeted.

She accuses the police of “murder.”

This was just one incident of many

The anti-police laws passed by the legislature have made the state more dangerous.

Thanks to the bill that bans most vehicle pursuits, multiple suspects have been allowed to freely speed away.

Officers are now forced into using deadly force with a ban on vascular neck restraints. But they must also first de-escalate a violent and dangerous situation before using that force. Hopefully, there’s time for them to keep everyone safe.

When officers deal with someone going through a mental health crisis, they can now do even less to involuntarily commit them. Even when police encounter a naked man clearly having either a mental health breakdown or a drug crisis, they can’t physically touch him to bring him to a care provider. Sometimes, the forced inaction leads to people allegedly burning down an apartment building.

And now K-9 Jedi is dead and his officer handler injured when their first thought might otherwise have been to use non-lethal weapons that are now banned.

Democrats and Governor Jay Inslee could have fixed these clear issues during a special legislative session. They chose not to, even though they acknowledge it’s necessary. They have blood on their hands.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Dem law led to K-9 line of duty death but Seattle activists blame police