Early this month, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) published 17 completed investigations into the misconduct of Seattle Police Department (SPD) employees, and sustained either some or all the allegations in 14 of those cases. Cop policy violations ranged from illegally accessing police databases to an officer detaining an 18-year-old for smoking a cigarette. In this Bad Apples installment, I look at the relaxed response to a drunken sergeant’s alleged drunk and disorderly conduct and a recent SPD hire’s drunk driving arrest, and also catch up with two cops from my last column, who—for a second time—failed to follow SPD policy when it came to investigating a domestic violence incident.
A Drunk and Disorderly Sergeant
On July 20, 2022, two separate bars trespassed intoxicated off-duty SPD Sgt. Simon Edison. His behavior, as well as the behavior of his girlfriend, required back-to-back police responses, according to an OPA report.
During the July incident, Edison and his girlfriend sat at a bar with their dog, drank, left, and then came back because Edison’s girlfriend forgot her sunglasses. As staff looked for the sunglasses, the couple sat at another person’s table and started to call the person a “cunt,” “rapist,” and “coward,” according to the OPA report. Staff ordered the couple to leave, and they did, with Edison continuing to call people cowards. Officers showed up and spoke with Edison’s girlfriend, who said, “So this is the thing. They were rude to us. I’m Sergeant [Edison’s] that works for y’all, girlfriend… you get it.” One of the officers told her that didn’t matter and that the bar banned the couple from returning.
The couple then tried to go to another bar on the same block. But the staff–who saw what happened at the other bar–told Edison and his girlfriend to go away. The girlfriend then tried to force her way past a customer blocking the door. Another customer recorded some of the incident on their phone. Bar staff called 911 and when officers arrived, Edison spoke with them this time. For a second time that day, a bar trespassed the couple.
A few months later, in October 2022 police again responded to a call involving a drunk Edison, this time involving an argument between the couple. Officers ended up driving Edison to a hotel for the night.
OPA found that Edison’s behavior in both July and October undermined public trust in SPD and in Edison, and recommended SPD Chief Adrian Diaz suspend the sergeant for about two days and include a written reprimand in Edison’s file. Diaz ultimately just suspended Edison for a day. OPA also recommended an oral reprimand of Sgt. Steven Bale, who responded to calls about Edison’s behavior in July, but failed to report Edison to the OPA for his unprofessional behavior.
OPA previously investigated Edison in 2019 for his off-duty drinking, when a security guard caught a drunk Edison “engaging in sexual activity” with a woman while parked in a mall parking garage. Edison refused to leave when the guard confronted him, resulting in the guard calling the Bellevue Police Department, who ended up handcuffing Edison due to his behavior. After the Bellevue officers confirmed Edison worked as a cop for SPD, they released him. After an investigation into that incident, OPA recommended Edison’s commanding officers speak with him about how to avoid embarrassing the department.
Speaking of Drunk Cops
On July 24, 2022, SWAT Officer Rafael Martinez drove drunk in Edmonds. Martinez refused to perform field sobriety tests for the Edmonds Police Department officer who pulled him over, and the officer arrested Martinez and booked him into Snohomish County Jail. SPD hired Martinez in 2022. In Martinez’s OPA interview, he said he caused a “cloud of shame.” The OPA recommended a suspension of three to five days for Martinez. Diaz imposed a four-day suspension.
Woman Assaulted After Lapsed Domestic Violence Investigation
In the last Bad Apples, I highlighted officers Michael R. Griffin and Terry J. Persun, who grabbed a bite to eat rather than fully investigate a domestic violence call. Diaz suspended the pair for seven days, the lowest discipline recommended by OPA. As I mentioned in that column, the OPA also investigated those officers for a similar incident from Oct. 5, 2022, which the OPA recently published.
In the October incident, a woman called 911 to report the father of her child violated a no-contact order by allegedly biting and punching her, before taking off with their 18-month-old daughter. The woman told dispatchers the man appeared to be drunk when he’d driven off with the child. Officers Griffin and Persun met with the woman, who told officers she had a no-contact order against the father, but the order didn’t bar him from seeing his daughter. She’d planned for him to pick up their daughter that night. However, when he arrived drunk and allegedly became violent toward the woman, she told him to leave. He then allegedly assaulted the woman and took off in his car with their daughter. Griffin and Persun asked the woman what she wanted them to do and she told them to “find him. He’s drinking and driving with my daughter.”
After leaving the call, Griffin and Persun drove straight to a Safeway parking lot and stayed there for about 20 minutes before closing the call. In the report filed by the officers, they said they called the woman and left a voicemail that they hadn’t found the man. However, GPS data from their patrol car did not show them conducting any significant search. The OPA concluded the officers made no real effort to find the man, despite the man allegedly committing a felony-level no-contact order violation and possibly driving drunk with a baby. In the OPA report, a supervisor said the call required a “much broader response,” such as multiple officers checking the area, maybe an amber alert, and documentation of the woman’s injuries.
Shortly after the officers ended the call, a supervisor called the woman to check in and she said the man had returned with their daughter, however, she said the cops shouldn’t come back as that might make the situation worse. The next day SPD arrested the man for another assault against the woman. The supervisor asked about the woman’s condition and the officers said “basically from head to toe, she had injuries.”
In interviews with the OPA, both officers acknowledged they’d failed to properly respond to the call. The OPA recommended another seven- to ten-day suspension for the two officers. Instead, Diaz added three days to the previous seven-day sentence in the other OPA case, totaling a ten-day suspension for the two officers for both incidents.