A serious complaint of brutality against the Seattle Police Department has been dismissed. The Office of Professional Accountability (OPA)—tasked with investigating citizen complaints against the police department—has cleared four officers of any wrongdoing in Toby Campbell's (better known as Seattle DJ DV One) controversial September 2006 arrest ["Spinning Out of Control," Charles Mudede and Sarah Mirk, Sept 27, 2006]. The Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) has already committed to reviewing OPA's investigation to see if it was "thorough and proper." What's more, Campbell's attorney says OPA is blatantly misrepresenting the facts.
This isn't the first time OPA has faced harsh criticism. Last February, OPA was lambasted for their handling of an investigation into whether two officers beat and planted drugs during the arrest of a wheelchair-bound man. OPARB audited the original OPA investigation, and their report raised questions about Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske's role in the case. The outcome of OPA's investigation, and OPARB's commitment to reviewing Campbell's complaint, may reignite debate about the reliability of OPA's investigations.
According to police reports, Campbell got into an altercation with Seattle police officers outside of Memorial Stadium, after a high-school football game, when they grabbed his 14-year-old daughter for blocking traffic. Campbell allegedly tussled with officers before being subdued by officer David Blackmer, who reportedly Tasered Campbell for 11 seconds.
Campbell, who is black, says officers used excessive force—he claims they asked him if he "liked being Tased"—and made racist remarks during his arrest. But according to OPA's just-released August report, "there is no evidence to support that [officers] did anything inappropriate during [Campbell's] arrest." The report references statements from a witness who claims to have seen Campbell elbow an officer in the face, and it also cites several witnesses at the scene who claim not to have heard the officers use any derogatory language. OPA investigators deemed officer's actions—including the lengthy Tasering—"reasonable, proper, and necessary."
According to Campbell's attorney, Lisa Daugaard, the witness OPA referenced in its report was one of five witnesses, and the only one who claimed Campbell made contact with the officer. "Yet, she's the only one that the report refers to," Daugaard says. Additionally, Daugaard says, the witness stated that it appeared Campbell's contact with the officer was accidental. Daugaard also says she has statements from several high-school security guards—who were at the stadium—who say police overreacted. "Numerous civilian witnesses, who we will be calling at trial, say Toby did not hit this officer," Daugaard says.
Campbell's trial is expected to begin October 11.