Two SPD officers violated policy and law at insurrection
On July 8, the Seattle Office of Police Accountability concluded a six-month investigation by stating that two Seattle Police Department officers violated SPD policy and Washington, D.C., law while off duty and attending then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” Jan. 6 rally. Six SPD officers attended the rally, which escalated to an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
OPA based its decision on a video still that showed the two officers standing close to the Capitol and in a prohibited area as rioters lined the steps and climbed the walls and scaffolding.
“That they were direct witnesses to people defiling the seat of American democracy — and did nothing — makes this all the more egregious,” OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said.
Evidence gathered for the inquiry confirmed the other officers did not violate SPD policy or engage in illegal activity at the rally. OPA said the First Amendment protects these three officers, and they were entitled to assemble and exercise their freedom of expression.
OPA could not establish whether the sixth officer trespassed, engaged in other criminal conduct or violated SPD policy.
Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz is in charge of determining disciplinary actions toward the two officers. OPA recommended he terminate their employment.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has deemed that the insurrection participants are domestic terrorists, and at least 540 of them have been charged with crimes in relation to it. Five people, including a U.S. Capitol Police Officer, died from injuries sustained there.
As of July 12, four fires — Burbank Fire, Lind Fire, Lick Creek Fire, Dry Gulch Fire — burn in Washington state with a moderate to extreme growth potential. All the fires are in Eastern Washington. On July 6, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office declared a wildfire state of emergency, prohibiting outdoor and agricultural burning through Sept. 30 in hopes of staving off new wildfires.
There are few exceptions to the burn ban, such as the use of gas-fueled stoves in some circumstances and small recreational campfires in contained structures on private property. The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has also implemented a burn ban.
In the last 40 years, there’s been a steady increase in wildfire frequency and intensity in the U.S. Environmentalists attribute this to global warming and poor forest management policies. Washington’s 2020 wildfire season had more fires than any prior year.
For this year, in the statewide burn ban announcement, Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz said, “We have seen a record-breaking number of fires for this early in the summer. Extreme drought conditions leave communities across our state at risk.”
Read more of the July 14-20, 2021 issue.