This afternoon, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz announced that Detective Shandy Cobane—who was caught on tape last May stomping an innocent Latino man’s head against the concrete and threatening to “beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey"—would receive a 30-day suspension without pay, after which time he will be transferred from SPD's gang unit to the department's patrol unit as a patrol officer.
"This is the maximum discipline available to me short of termination," Diaz said. Previous rumors said that the department's internal discipline process recommended terminating Cobane; it's unclear at this point if that was the case. When asked point-blank if he wanted to fire Cobane, Diaz said, "frankly, yes," but ultimately, "It came down to the fact that what he said, which was appalling, versus his entire career… the possibility of me being successful in a termination case was slim to none."
- Shandy Cobane says I'm sorry.
"I believe he’s a good officer who made a huge mistake," said Diaz. "I’m confident he’s learned from his mistakes."
Cobane will also be required to sign a last chance agreement acknowledging that if he receives another sustained complaint for racist or inappropriate remarks (or a similar grievance), he will be immediately fired. And that goes for the entire department: "I've made clear to the department and [Seattle Police Guild President] Rich O’Neill that termination will be the presumptive penalty to people using racial slurs," said Diaz. "The line’s been drawn here. I thought I’d made it clear before. Now I’ve made it very clear."
Cobane will also receive additional race and social justice training from the department and have to participate in "ongoing discussions" with Latino leaders. In addition, he'll be required to join SPD's Latino Advisory Council and do community service with a local Latino organization (the number of hours of service and type of work will be determined by the organization, Diaz says). "I really want him to spend a lot of time with the community, I need him facing up to the community," Diaz explained.
A subdued O'Neill pronounced today a day of healing. "This has been an incident that has hurt us," he acknowledged, explaining that "you need the trust of the community" in order for SPD to function. "This is an opportunity for the healing to begin."
He then praised Cobane for his repeated apologies and held them up as an example to other officers: "If you do something wrong, stand up and take ownership of it," he said.