'At least' two Seattle cops in D.C. on Wednesday, police chief says
The Seattle Police Department learned on Friday that "at least" two of its officers had been in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
"If any SPD officers were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, I will immediately terminate them," Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a statement.
The two officers were put on administrative leave.
His statement did not say how he knew that officers were there, or what, if any, role they played in the insurrection. While some stormed the Capitol, thousands were protesting peacefully.
An extremist right-wing mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, chasing lawmakers into hiding when they should have been voting to officially make Joe Biden the next president. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer.
"The Department fully supports all lawful expressions of First Amendment freedom of speech," Diaz said, "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 the "incident" — unclear what he meant by this — has been sent to the Office of Police Accountability.
But he did go one step further, suggesting that the officers could be referred for criminal investigation, depending on findings.
"The OPA will investigate whether any Seattle Police Department policies were violated, and if any potential illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation," he said.
Update Jan. 9: In a statement by her spokesperson Kelsey Nyland, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan condemned the attack on the Capitol as “domestic terrorism” and said she supports Chief Diaz’ measures to investigate any potential involvement by SPD officers.
The statement said, “Mayor Durkan supported former Chief Best’s decision to terminate an officer who violated the public’s trust by encouraging violence against President Obama and Hillary Clinton, and she would support Chief Diaz to terminate any officers whose speech or actions impact the department’s ability to serve.” (The firing of the officer who created social media posts attacking Obama and Clinton with images of a package bomb was reported last January.)
Durkan also condemned social media statements about the riots by Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, that implied that far-left protesters bore equal responsibility for them and assigned no blame to President Trump. Solan wrote on Twitter: “Far right and far left are responsible for that sad day.”
Solan's statements prompted calls for his apology or resignation from former city advisor Scott Lindsay and retired SPD Chief Carmen Best. Durkan agreed, adding “His statements do not reflect the values of the City of Seattle but instead echo the failed lies of a failed presidency. In fact, every officer at the Seattle Police Department has an obligation to not ‘post speech that negatively impacts the Department’s ability to serve the public.’”
The Washington Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 3,000 law enforcement officers statewide, also strongly condemned the events in D.C. as well as Solan’s statements. They wrote, “We do not support the comments made by Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan regarding the capitol rioting, because such comments undermine our efforts to rebuild the trust needed between law enforcement and our communities. We believe that when peace officers allow their personal biases to influence their perceptions of events and behavior, it severely compromises our ability to fulfill our duty to protect and serve.”
The SPD’s Office of Police Accountability will investigate whether Solan and the officers accused of participating in DC violated any SPD policies. KUOW contacted the King County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol; both agencies responded that they have no reports or complaints of any of their officers participating in last week’s events in Washington, D.C.