- Ansel Herz
- William Wingate, 70, was arrested last summer for "walking in Seattle while black."
Seattle police chief Kathleen O'Toole said in a statement this afternoon that she feels "shocked and disappointed" at the way SPD officer Cynthia Whitlatch behaved on Facebook—tacitly confirming that a post-Ferguson Facebook screed about "chronic black racism" and "black people saying poor poor me" was, in fact, written by the same Officer Cynthia Whitlatch who arrested an elderly military vet last summer for "walking in Seattle while black."
Officer Whitlatch, O'Toole said, is now on administrative assignment, "where she will have no interaction with the public" while a "comprehensive review" of her behavior in this and other cases is completed (along with an independent investigation by the Office of Professional Accountability).
Speaking to the press earlier this afternoon, Seattle mayor Ed Murray addressed Officer Whitlatch's conduct, saying "obviously we need to do more" to reform the SPD. He added that he'd met with O'Toole this morning and instructed her to take Officer Whitlatch off patrol duties and investigate her. He called Officer Whitlatch's Facebook posts "disturbing," and said that while officers have a right to free speech, "I'm concerned about the type of message those comments send."
This morning, at a separate press conference at a Pioneer Square law office, William Wingate, the 70-year-old military veteran who Officer Whitlatch arrested last summer while he was out walking (video here), said he is "upset about the whole thing."
Wingate was using a golf club as a cane while he walked, and said he didn't swing the club at Officer Whitlatch, as she claimed on the video. The video supports this. "I was being framed," Wingate said. "She knew I had done nothing." He went on to say that Officer Whitlatch's behavior toward him—shouting at him to drop the club, telling him he'd done something he hadn't—made him feel afraid. "I didn't know what she was going to do," he said. "I didn't know what was going to happen to me."
He feels racially profiled and said the night he spent in jail after being arrested "was the most miserable night I've ever had."
Wingate called for Officer Whitlatch to be disciplined.
His lawyer, Susan Mindenbergs, said a lawsuit over his treatment is likely. For now, as a first step, she's filed a claim with the city on his behalf for $750,000.
This post has been updated.