- "You swung that golf club at me when I turned the corner," claims Officer Whitlach, as seen on dash-cam video, as she frisks William Wingate and empties the pockets. There was no video evidence to support her claim that he swung a golf club.
The SPD's Blotter just posted this statement from Chief Kathleen O'Toole:
Today I heard many concerns from community members about the conduct of an SPD officer assigned to the East Precinct. These concerns are related to two incidents that occurred during the summer of 2014, one of which was detailed previously by our department.
I have directed East Precinct commander Captain Pierre Davis to prepare a comprehensive report, to include his assessment of the officer’s performance and any supervisory measures that were taken to address her actions in these incidents.
The decision to investigate Whitlatch evidently took the department more than eight hours to make. At 9:30 a.m. this morning, The Stranger broke the story of how she treated 70-year-old military veteran William Wingate on a summer day last July.
It's worth noting that, according to former Washington State representative Dawn Mason, Captain Davis defended Whitlatch's behavior during a meeting with her following the incident last summer. This is the man O'Toole has now tasked with performing the review.
It's also worth noting that earlier this week, when I asked the department for comment about Officer Whitlatch's conduct, SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb said, "We don’t believe this was a biased policing incident... The reason she stopped him is because of what she saw."
We still haven't heard from Mayor Ed Murray, who ran on stopping police abuses, improving race relations, and reforming the department. The NAACP said earlier today that the silence from the mayor and police chief was "deafening."
UPDATE Wednesday 8:37 p.m.: Finally, Mayor Ed Murray weighs in. "The mayor believes that these incidents are unfortunate and disappointing," said Viet Shelton, his communications director. "He supports Chief O’Toole’s decision to call for a comprehensive review of the overall conduct and performance of the officer involved." The mayor's office issued a longer statement over here, saying he's working to implement a "comprehensive and transparent police accountability system that will be the most robust in the nation."
UPDATE Thursday 8:35 a.m.: Many are confused by Chief O'Toole's reference to "two incidents that took place during the summer of 2014." SPD spokesperson Sean Whitcomb clarifies that the two incidents are Officer Whitlatch's arrest of William Wingate in July and an alleged racially charged exchange of comments on Facebook with Brian Davis in August.