The Rise and Fall of A Cop
Not long ago, Seattle Police Assistant Chief Clark Kimerer was being heralded as the department's rising star, the youngest assistant chief in department history, and the obvious choice to take over for Chief Norm Stamper when the time comes.
Now Kimerer is falling fast, and with good reason. It turns out that two of the city's most embarrassing cases of police wrong-doing in years occurred under his watch.
As head of SPD Internal Investigations, Kimerer did nothing to reprimand either the homicide detective who allegedly stole $10,000 from a dead man, or the three cops who allegedly beat a 17-year-old black man until he lay motionless in a pool of blood.
Both incidents have made big headlines, causing Chief Stamper and Mayor Paul Schell to appoint a citizen review panel to take a closer look at the department's ability to police itself.
The obvious place to start is with Kimerer.
Kimerer has been ducking all phone calls about his tenure as head of internal investigations, so it's unclear exactly what role he played in the cover-up of the $10,000 that Homicide Detective Earl "Sonny" Davis Jr. reportedly took from a black man shot to death by police officers in 1996. But as head of the Internal Investigations unit that tried to bury the alleged theft for two and a half years, Kimerer either knew about it or should have known.
Kimerer's role in covering up a case of alleged excessive force, also in 1996, is less of a mystery. Former officer Paul Vang says when he witnessed a severe beating of a black youth in a holding cell and reported it to Internal Investigations, Kimerer intimidated him into silence, telling him to go home to study the definition of "reasonable force."
Vang claims that he watched as officers kicked and pummeled the victim, who was pinned to the floor, and continued beating him after he had stopped moving. But in the ensuing internal investigation, Vang was never interviewed. Demetrius Fisher, the 17-year-old black man who was beaten, was charged with assaulting a police officer, but nothing happened to the officers who assaulted him. Vang quit the department a short time later.
Now Vang is suing the department, Detective Davis is facing felony theft charges, and Clark Kimerer is looking less like the SPD's golden boy, and more like the king of the cover-up.--Ben Jacklet
Attack of the 24,555-square-foot House
King County Councilmember Jane Hague has proposed our region's first legislation to regulate "mega-houses"--homes for people that are too rich for mere mansions.
Hague's legislation stems from concerns expressed by residents of Kirkland's Finn Hill neighborhood, where a house roughly 10 times bigger than the average home in the area is currently under construction. According to architectural plans, the home Chinese businessman Chu-chao Chin is building will be 24,555 square feet in size (about as big as the city's largest shelter for homeless women and children--but who's counting?) and will have 24 toilets, 18 showers, six urinals, 17 showers, and 36 sinks.
Mega-houses are on the rise in Seattle, and have caused problems for communities in Medina and Mercer Island, blocking views and cutting off public beaches. Finn Hill residents are angry that Chin's elephantine residence will throw off the proportions of the neighborhood and bring excessive traffic to the subdivision. They are also anxious about the ambiguous uses slated for a large expanse at the center of the mega-house; the Chins have alternately claimed the space will be used for ballroom dancing, or for "R and R" for executives from Chin's Hong Kong factory.
Hague's legislation would create a 21-day comment period before a mega-house is built, add a requirement that local councilmembers be consulted before building, and allow for various parking and traffic safety regulations.
Finn Hill's woes provide an interesting counterpoint to some economic wisdom laid out last month on The New York Times' business page, which posited the genius notion that the ever-growing gap between rich and poor in this country hasn't hurt the poor or middle-class, but has merely benefited the wealthy. Chin's mega-house offers another example of how the excesses of the wealthy do impact everyone--whether it's by smashing up all the modest sedans with their titanic sport utes, or simply by raising the bar in terms of what kinds of clothes kids need in order to fit in.--Samantha M. Shapiro