Seattle cop was threatened by fellow officer after he ‘Leroy Jenkins’d’ drug bust

May 8, 2024, 5:22 PM | Updated: May 9, 2024, 8:39 am

Seattle police officers respond to a crime scene. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)...

Seattle police officers respond to a crime scene. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recently processed a report documenting a conflict last autumn between two Seattle officers that escalated into one cop challenging another to a fight and another being threatened after a drug bust was unsuccessful. (Readers can view the OPA report as a PDF here.)

Seattle Police Department (SPD) Officer Seth Romeo sent out a radio call on Sept. 27, 2023 to notify other officers to stay out of an area after witnessing people sell drugs near the intersection of 24th Ave S. and S. Washington. As Romeo attempted to observe the drug dealing from a nearby balcony, another police officer, Ryan Rose, drove through the scene in a police vehicle, allowing the suspected drug dealers to flee the scene.

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“He’s not sneaky at all. He f***ing Leeroy Jenkins’d this f***ing call bro,” another officer, Nicholas Burgess, said regarding Rose’s accident, according to police statements acquired by DivestSPD.  The Substack newsletter has named the officers involved in the incident whereas the OPA report did not.

“Leeroy Jenkins” was a World of Warcraft player-controlled character that became a viral internet meme in 2005 after the game’s player, Ben Schulz, ignored a detailed attack strategy and used his avatar, Leeroy Jenkins, to charge head-first into battle, using his character’s name as a battle cry. (It took Schulz 12 years to confirm the video was staged.)

Officers Romeo and Rose discussed what he did wrong at the scene, with Rose reportedly being apologetic, DivestSPD reported. But the situation escalated, according to Romeo’s written statement, when Rose said, “Let me pull over so we can talk man to man.”

“No, it’s settled,” Romeo responded, which led to Rose getting angrier and more confrontational.

“As soon as I heard Rose say, ‘Let me pull over so we can talk man to man,’ I knew he was going to escalate the situation and I was not going to speak with him one-on-one,” Romeo later wrote in his statement. “I told him we could speak with a third party, Burgess and Alcazar, present to which he claimed I was a “p****” and afraid to speak man-to-man. Rose went on to tell me I was speaking to him in a disrespectful manner and nobody has the right to disrespect him.”

The conflict escalated further after Romeo “pulled rank,” according to his written statement.

“I told Rose he was at the bottom of this metaphorical totem pole, and he needs to understand there are officers with much more knowledge and experience than him on the streets,” Romeo wrote in his statement for OPA. “I told him if this is how he resolves conflict and receives critique he will not last long in a professional police force.”

‘In Texas, we do things differently’

According to DivestSPD, this was when the situation came to a head, with Rose challenging Romeo to a fight.

“I swear on my two kids, I got you on anything physical, jiujitsu, wrestling, etc.,” Rose said, according to OPA’s closed case summary. Burgess quickly intervened between the two officers. (A PDF of that report is available here.)

“This isn’t how we handle things,” Burgess told Rose, only for Rose to continue challenging Romeo, saying “See? You’re the type to run to a supervisor. In Texas, we do things differently.”

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According to OPA documents, Rose told Burgess, “(Romeo) is lucky that I am not off duty. I would drag him out of the car and beat him to death.” Offices stated in the case summary that Rose’s veins were bulging in his forehead and his eyes were “glazed over.”

“I fully believe Rose is incapable of the emotional and mental control needed to not act on an impulse to assault me,” Romeo wrote in his statement. “I knew this conversation was going nowhere and I had the feeling Rose was working himself up to actually swing on me. I fully anticipated Rose to throw a punch and Burgess and Alcazar would have to pull him off me. Luckily, this never happened as I removed myself from the scene soon after.”

One Seattle officer reprimanded

Rose was placed on administrative leave and was required to receive counseling from SPD’s Wellness Unit.

As the dust has settled, Rose wrote in his statement for OPA that his threat was intended for a physical challenge between himself and Romeo, like wrestling. According to DivestSPD, Rose’s comments about beating Romeo “to death” were made out of frustration about being disrespected as a newer officer and a minority.

OPA officially cited Rose with an oral reprimand, finding his conduct “unprofessional,” but this incident did not meet the definition of a criminal threat. Washington is one of two states (Texas) where mutual combat is legal. Mutual combat means individuals can engage in a consensual fight without facing criminal charges as long as no deadly weapons are used and it’s not in public.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Seattle cop was threatened by fellow officer after he ‘Leroy Jenkins’d’ drug bust