Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole Orders Review of Officer Cynthia Whitlatch's Conduct

Comments

1
Unfit for duty. A perfect representation of the problematic behavior that plagues SPD. Fire her.
2
This is why an independent press is so important. We would know nothing about this if it weren't for your reporting.

The Stranger is doing more to protect the residents of Seattle than the mayor or police chief.
4
Now what about that cop that thought she was doing a Borscht Belt seltzer-bottle comedy routine with her pepper spray?
5
@2. exactly. well put.
6
What was probable cause to initiate the stop?
7
@2: exactly.
8
@6
No one knows.
9
Great, now what about all the other cops?
10
Keep up the pressure but be careful of hyperbole. The way this post reads. It sounds as though you think eight hours for the Chief to act is dragging her feet. In fact that might as well be a land speed record. That's a small quibble though. Keep it up!
11
If it's too late to file a charge against Men Griffey Jr. for swinging a bat at me, maybe I will file a complaint against Russell Wilson for hurling a small but deadly leather missile in the direction of my head.
12
@6: She supposedly witnessed him swing the club aggressively at a sign at towards here at another corner. There is no video of that though (shocker!). Then she sloooooowly drove back around to him (seriously, watch how long she waits to make turns).
13
In re-watching the video it's hard not to notice all the young white hipsters who just keep walking by and have zero interest in observing an old black man with a golf club get harassed by a cop.
14
@13: Yeah, I kept waiting for one of them to show just a smidgen of curiosity/concern.

And Mayor Murray, again too little too late. You have proven since day one that you haven't a glimmer of a clue about what to do about SPD. When will it finally get through to you and you start engaging with those who do have ideas and are willing to help?
15
Murray's a tool of SPOG. He won't do shit except form a committee that won't do shit.
17
I'ma' find me a golf club and take a tour of Capitol Hill the next chance I get. Five bucks gets you a hundred the only thing I hear from officers is "Have a nice day!"

As impossible as it would be, I sometimes think we'd be well-served disbanding the SPD and letting the KCSO police the city. John Urquhart has a proven record of reform and holding officers accountable.
18
It is never ok to threaten a police officer.

However, I don't see how an old man swinging a golf club could be considered threatening to an armed police officer in a patrol car.

Maybe if he threw it at the car, I could see it. No, that would probably be assault.

19
@2 - Well said.

Kudos Ansel, well done here. And well done The Stranger (and Slog in particular) for driving this.
20
@16,

"However, I don't see how an old man swinging a golf club could be considered threatening to an armed police officer in a patrol car."



In particular if he never actually swung the golf club.
21
@20, obvs for @18.
22
Yay, the Police will conduct a review of themselves. Just like the one they did when Shandy Cobaine beat an innocent latino while hurling racial slurs, or when Ian Burke shot a native woodcarver and lied in the report before finding out he was legally deaf, or when Lt. Pomper wrote in the Police Union magazine about how anyone who opposes racial profiling is "the enemy", or when....well you get it.

May as well not even fucking insult us. O Toole, Davis, Whitlatch, every other cop in the SPD and everyone reading this story knows damned well they will find nothing wrong and this deranged, raged filled racist monster will be out on the streets to do it all again!

These are the same people who had the balls to sue the Department of Justice because they thought their right to be racist and use excessive force outside compliance of the law was being violated. They LITERALLY thought these concepts were RIGHTS they had as white officers of the law.

Like I said in the other story, you cannot 'train' this shit away. You cant 'modify hiring practices' and get it to go either because we all see the bad apples corrupt the good ones (or get them to quit). ANY other job in the US of A, this kinda shit would get you fired. Law enforcement is the last bastion of accepted open racism.

The ENTIRE Spd needs to be dismantled, fired and forced to re apply for their jobs, or stories like these will continue to pile, or worst happens.
23
Unless Murray is willing to take on the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), there will be no "reform" of the police in this town. The Office of Professional Accountability is a sham.

http://seattlecrimes.com/black_lives_blu…
24
The police are right 99.9% of the time, but the "few bad apples" need to be removed.

If Officer Whitlatch made up a story, she should be removed.

Kathy O'Toole, your reputation is on the line. If you cover up, everyone will know, even you.

dougkinan@yahoo.com

Boston, Massachusetts
25
@13/14

Right. Because the onus of starting the revolution should have totally been put on their shoulders. Or something. I'm not entirely sure what you two are complaining about. Cops accost people on Capitol Hill all the time. How would a passer-by know just by a glance that this situation was different?
26
I will personally buy William Wingate a bad ass cane, so he doesn't have to walk around with a threatening 5 iron. What is this, CLUE? ... Mr. Wingate. 11th & Pine, with a 5 iron.
27
@25: Who said anything about starting a revolution?

You're right, they couldn't tell much from a glance. That's why perhaps they should have taken a few more moments to observe what was happening. While cops may stop people "all the time" on Capitol Hill, I doubt cops yelling for someone to drop their golf club/"weapon" happens all the time. And even minor incidents can get out of hand quickly (i.e. Eric Gardner). It doesn't take much to look up from one's phone and then spend 10 seconds assessing and observing a situation.
28
Looks like she's spent years training other cops to be just like her, and she was honored in July of 2013..nothing is going to happen to this officer.

Taken from http://www.seattle.gov/police/precincts/…

"Once a month I will be highlighting one of our many great officers that work within the East Precinct. The honor for July goes to Officer Cynthia Whitlatch..

Here is a short Bio from her:

"My name is Cynthia Whitlatch and have lived in the Seattle area most of my life. I grew up in Federal Way and graduated from Decatur High School. Afterward I attended Western Washington University graduating with majors in English and East Asian Studies and a minor in Chinese Language. I lived in Beijing CHINA for my senior year of college. I speak Chinese well and enjoy it when I get an opportunity to use it at work. I have been a police officer with the Seattle Police Department since March 1997 starting my career in law enforcement on 3rd watch at the South Precinct. After a few years I transferred to the Traffic Unit as a DUI officer. This was one of the most rewarding assignments I have had as a police officer. Currently, I work 2nd watch at the East Precinct. For the past 13 years I have been a Field Training Officer (FTO). It's very rewarding teaching new officers, who are so very enthusiastic about police work, and getting them started off in their new career.""
29
@10++, I thought the same thing.

Ansel, 8 hours is a completely reasonable amount of time to go from news broken to announcing an investigation. IMO you undermine your credibility by suggesting otherwise.
30
Why can't the mayor and the police chief respond seconds after an incident like this happens? Talk about a major fucking FAILURE!!
31
Has anyone written about how or PD got to be this way? Call me a naive native, but it seems oddly out of character for Seattle to have an abusive police force. Why Seattle, more than, say, Portland or Sacramento or Denver? (I have the same thought about the Seahawks, as in, how did we end up getting a team that won stuff?)
32
@10 is correct. Be careful of over-sell.
33
LET'S START A CAPITOL HILL GOLF-CLUB PROTEST MARCH!!!
34
So, what is going on with the Justice Department's case against the SPD for biased policing? Between this case, Mohawk's wallet, and the pepper spray case (among others, that's just this week), it is pretty f'ing clear that the SPD still has major problems and have failed to comply with the Federal government. Is there a way we can bring the Justice Department back in to force major changes?
35
@31: My opinion: Cops have an easy job in Seattle.

Violent crime and gang activity is minimal compared to other US cities, so cops here get bored and start looking for a fight. A black man with a golf club or a jaywalking kid are easy targets.

And since very few cops live in Seattle and SPOG has their back, there is typically no negative social or economic repercussion to their actions.

They're the blue Mafia.
36
Seattle cops are also very well-compensated. Cynthia Whitlatch made $118,629.95 in salary in 2013.
37
The backup claim that he waved the golf club at her and she then drove around the block and came back makes no sense either. The video shows her making a left and then two rights - this is not a swing around the block.
38
FIRE HER! Ugh! C'mon people. How can we stand for this kind of obsurdity from police? People of color and black people are not only being treated this way by those who are supposed to be protecting us, but all seem to just stand by and watch. Protests don't seem to work. Our houses and neighborhoods are being turned over to accomadate upper class. This has to end. With so much money being thrown at politicans by the department there's no trust in any law makers. We have to rise up. Take what is ours. Freedom, liberty the pursuit of happiness. Sound familiar? Or is that just for a person of a certain class and color? Seattle, we CAN do better. It's our Responsibility to those who came before us. This officer is proof that SPD is Can do wrong and will if nothing changes. If they won't fire her, get her the desk and keep her there. She was a Training officer for gods sake! Can you imagine? If this women was allowed to,teach people I hope they slept through the class. 
OH, and for sure, they need to fire the police officer that went berserk for no apparent reason and decided to pepper spray Jesse Hagopian, who's crime was also, 'walking while black.'
Good luck Seattle
39
Jude@31: Actually, Portland and Sac-town have had many similar problems over the last few years -- or maybe more accurately, the media and political establishment is finally listening to the complaints of citizens. Could be a matter of time before DoJ is going to need a lot more monitors...

And malt@28: Thanks for digging up this gem:

For the past 13 years I have been a Field Training Officer (FTO). It's very rewarding teaching new officers, who are so very enthusiastic about police work, and getting them started off in their new career.


Hmm....I wonder why we have systemic issues with the police culture in Seattle?
40
I wonder what part of Seattle she lives in or is she coming in from the burbs to beat up on the City people? Or does she even live in King County?

41
At 15:15 the police van driver is listening to a right wing talk-radio show on a blame the left rant.
42
This couldn't be a clearer example of police harrassing a black man.

Here is officer Whitlatch's art store online: http://www.sandandpaintfx.com/

I emailed her, assuming it's the same person, 206 area code.
43
@37 it makes perfect sense if it did in fact take place. If you make a left hand turn through a cross walk and someone at the corner to the left of video hits the stop sign (maybe to indicate, 'hey asshole, I'm an old man crossing don't run me over') then you wouldn't stop right in the middle of the road, back up into a cross walk and park in the middle of an intersection. You would just proceed and loop around to meet them at the next intersection where you can park.

Also on the scale of police abuse of power I feel like "Please put down your golf club so that we can talk" is so f*#)@ low on the scale of police abuse to not be taken seriously. If she's a racist harasser of people of color then it should show up in her police reports of disproportionately stopping people of color for bullshit reasons. A single stop in which she even initially says "please" for something we can't see on camera seems absurd. If I was pulled over for something I didn't think I did and I wouldn't stop or follow instructions I would be arrested too. It wasn't an unreasonable request and it was about as nicely asked as a cop ever asks anything. Could she have not yelled? Maybe but he tells her he can't hear her so again you have to really be looking for trouble to take issue with that.

If she did think that she just saw him hit a stop sign with his golf club then it's reasonable she wouldn't want to get within bopping distance. If it was loud on the street it is reasonable she would have have to yell. If he did what she said he did while she crossed the sidewalk it is reasonable that she would loop around the block and just meet him.

In my opinion we have no evidence one way or the other. We have no evidence that she's lying. We have no evidence that he's telling the truth. Which is to say this investigation will inevitably be inconclusive, not because of police circling the wagons (which they definitely do even on criminal cases with real evidence) and you can't fire someone for something that is perfectly reasonable if she's telling the truth.

I worry that if we make a big deal out of every instance of a police having a body camera or dash cam that fails to capture the supposed crime then the police will rightfully refuse to use them and sue to stop their implementation which would be a real loss to police accountability. My take away if I was a police officer from this incident is, either I need a 360 degree camera that will capture everything not just a 25 degree field of view or I don't want a camera at all--because apparently everything that happens in the 330 degrees out of frame never happened and if I say it did I'll be fired for dishonesty. The police need accountability but they would perfectly justified in pushing back against that sort of impossible standard.
44
@43: Your reasonable and moderate comment will surely be received in the same spirit by the always temperate commenters on Slog.
45
@42, the koi airbrushing, handmade batons, and case for a SPD remembrance flag certainly make a convincing argument for ownership.

http://www.sandandpaintfx.com/?p=1185
47
@31: It's bad everywhere you look. Seattle has gotten good at looking and publicizing findings.
48
@43

Your entire argument hinges on the thought she was being honest about him waiving the club at her. Which he denied.

Its not the first time the SPD has been caught harassing or assaulting a black person for minding his own business. Its also not the first time a cop has been caught lying.

Which is more likely

A- The man actually was waiving his club at her car for some random reason, or;

B- This racist cop with a racist background whos made racist statements made the entire interaction, as many other white SPD officers have been caught doing, to assault and arrest a black man she noticed on the street.

Knowing the SPD's history and the DOJ/UW study findings, 100 : 1 odds its B
49
How do you say "fuck off, pig" in Chinese?
50
What people are failing to realize is that the cop claims the club swinging incident occurred on 11th and Pike. The arrest occurred on 12th and Pike, when the camera started rolling. Something very well could have transpired, but only the cop and suspect know the truth. But because no one reads the report and just goes straight to the video, this cop is being crucified publicly.

What's more troublesome is why no one is talking about the failure not of the police, but of the Seattle Municipal Court judicial process. There's absolutely no evidence of this man's alleged crimes, yet charges were still formally filed. Why weren't the charges dropped immediately at this man's court arraignment? This, to me, is a much more concerning problem than the arrest itself, and is more representative of a systemic failure and possible racial bias in our judicial system.

The SPD at least apologized and tried to make amends. Meanwhile, although the case was dismissed, the charges and plea deal filed at the Seattle Municipal Court are still listed online under William Wingate's name.

Scapegoat the cop if you want, but our entire criminal justice system is the problem.
51
This PR campaign for increased transparency by the SPD just totally backfired. Now Chief O'Toole is trying to save face by conducting a BS investigation.
53
"Sir, you shook your angry fist at me back there around the corner, after I failed to yield right-of-way to you in the crosswalk, as my kind regularly does, because we are above the law. Do you see where it says `exempt' on my car's license plate? Sir, put your fist down. That is a weapon. Put your fist down. Put your fist down. I'm not going to tell you again: Put your fist down. Put your fist down. Put your fist down."

Multiple backup thugs, handcuffs, locked in a prisoner wagon, locked in a cage overnight, prosecution, months, publicity, apology. No reparations, no accountability.
54
Seattle, in many ways you are the city on a hill. A model the rest of the USA can look up to. Demand better!
55
yeah everyone, follow @43 lead. Dont believe your lying eyes.
56
@53 Win.
@50 It takes months for requests for information to be released. SPD will only release exactly what was asked for, which was likely worded as 'the stop'. IF the request was worded to include the incident or x minutes prior to stop or from 11th and Pike it may have been shown.

Mechanically...if you've been to 11th and Pike...it's almost impossible to swing even a golf club 'at' a car AND hit a Stop sign if the car is anywhere near the right side of the street. She likely drove way too close to where he was as a pedestrian. If a car came that close to ME in one of those crosswalks, it's likely getting a water bottle bounced off it's windshield.

So, did she initiate a conflict by almost hitting a person in a crosswalk? Probably.
Did she initiate a conflict because he was black? Based on her facebook postings and treatment of him...Probably.

The police are supposed to respond to incidents...not create them.
57
after seeing this the da charged him or spd didnt show the da or satterberg's team saw it and pressured him knowing he would not see it unless he opted for trial any it sucks they all suck
58
sorry that should say anyway it sucks it's really f n bullshit from any angle
59
more insight on this case can be found on my blog: http://nwcrimeblog.com/?p=42
60
Thx @59 for the info. This is really troubling me right now
61
Thx @59 for the info. I am so troubled by this.
62
I'm sure this may change, but when I looked a few hours ago, the list of comments on the Seattle Times' coverage of this situation numbered over a hundred, and almost universally expressed dismay w/ Whitlatch & the SPD. There might have been one or two weak attempts to justify her behavior, but that was it.

Really surprising, and heartening.
63
The pig said the swinging of the golf club was on video. so if she had the tape rolling, the whole, I swung around the block, doesn't hold water.
64
@27

The revolution bit was pure sarcasm... Aside from that, you seem more concerned with painting "young, white hipsters" with their fancy phones in a negative light than being constructive. At the moment when the officer approaches him and tells him to drop the golf club, a middle aged man walking his dog passes right by, unfazed. Why isn't he held accountable? I feel like there are better platforms to shit on young people is basically all I'm saying.

The fact that this occurred prior to the Michael Brown fiasco is also a factor at play. Would young people passing by after all the new stories and protests raised awareness to the dire situation that is police treatment of black men? Maybe. Hopefully. That's not really something we can use this video to gauge, so why don't you let it go?
65
@43:

Seriously? That's the best rationalization you can come up with? FFS, police make these kinds of "in the middle of the road" stops all the fucking time. Additionally, if the incident occurred as Officer Whitlach describes it, why didn't she immediately pull off into one of the several open spaces available on 11th, as clearly seen in the video starting around 0:20? Or barring that, why did she make a full stop at the light on 11th & E. Pine AND wait a full 30 seconds for the light to turn green at 12th & E. Pike? Why wouldn't she have just hit her lights & siren and skipped the stops in order to catch up with Wingate, since she would have had no idea which direction he might have gone after she passed him? There's no indication in the video she was in any sort of hurry, she doesn't speed up, she doesn't use her initiative to avoid lights, she doesn't do ANYTHING in fact to indicate she thought AT THE TIME Wingate represented any sort of threat, either to her or to the public. And, as others have pointed out, she made no effort whatsoever to call in anything prior to stopping at 12th & E. Pike, when she saw Wingate standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light.

You may claim the video is "inconclusive" because it doesn't record the alleged incident itself (and which, BTW doesn't mean she's NOT lying, or that Mr. Wingate ISN'T telling the truth - but hey, nice try implying she was in the right and he in the wrong when you could just as easily have taken it the other direction), but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to infer, based on Whitlach's subsequent actions - which ARE recorded - that she's as full of shit as a corn-fed goose.
66
Your are precisely right with your comments. This is just like the Emperor with no clothes story. This real story, backed by video, we are supposed to fully accept as not real - no sir - believe what this officer is saying, not the REALITY of the situation. I cannot feel that this injustification is taken care of, unless this officer is held responsible for her wrongdoing. We need to know that she is held accountable for her racist actions, including her outright lies. Thank you for your eloquence COMTE.
67
If you would like to address your concerns about Officer Whitlatch with SPD, call OPA [Office of Professionalism and Accountability] at (206) 684-8797. The 911 & Non-Emergency lines are not places to call regarding this.
68
@67:

Yeah, like THAT'S going to do any good. I suspect we could flood the OPA phone lines 24/7 for the next month and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. Cops protect their own, no matter what.
69
@65 Laziness? If someone passes behind your car (cross walk that she probably cut him off) then you're confronted with two options:

A) Pull off to the side of the road, get out and backtrack/run up a hill to stop him from behind.
B) Be lazy, loop around the block and just cut him off and walk 3 feet.

It's my believe that 'people are lazy' is a universal truth. Why bother walking when you could accomplish the same thing while barely getting out of your car?

And if she did cut him off at the crosswalk, she deserved a golf club swung in her general direction (not that he should ever admit that).
70
@64

dammit, I feel like I left a couple key words out of what I was saying, especially in the second paragraph. that's what typing on your phone will get you.

...while not looking up to make sure innocent people aren't being arrested by the cops.
71
@69:

If she had pulled into that white passenger loading strip in front of Vermillion, she could have been stopped, been out of her patrol vehicle, and at Mr. Wingate's side before he reached the front door of 35th North, which is only about 20 feet from the intersection; hardly "up a hill". Please do keep in mind we're talking about a 69 year-old man hobbling up the street with the aid of an improvised cane - how FAST do you think he can move, even under duress?

I will, however, grant you the "lazy" part, as clearly Officer Whitlach displayed a level of both physical and intellectual indolence that, if nothing else, should disqualify her as unfit for duty.
72
@49, 他妈的关闭,猪 (Tā mā de guānbì, zhū)
73
She's been taking off the streets! Ordered by the chief of the police department.. THANK GOD!
74
The latest New Yorker, 02-Feb-15, has "Your Son Is Deceased" about Albuquerque, NM with highest rates of fatal shootings by police. [ Powerful article! ] Includes the statement:
The department accepted officers from other police forces, even if they had been disciplined or fired, and it sometimes waived the psychological exam. Steve Tate, the director of training at the Albuquerque Police Academy, said that, after the hiring push, he noticed new cadets “exhibiting some characteristics that I thought were a little strange.”
Next hire: Cynthia Whitlatch?
Albuquerque, Ferguson, any chance there are other PD's in USA like these with openings? Maybe Seattle PD can just do a swap and call it "win-win"?
75
She seems like a well balanced officer, just look at how well she dealt with this out of control crowd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntjsAuLn…
76
Judge Gregory is 70+ and black. This is entirely left out. This is about gestapo-type cops doing whatever they want to everyone, not about race.
77
Like to thank The Stranger for standing the watch on this and so many other police related turds. Who would have thought that the "big boys" of media would bend over for the establishment like 3 dollar whores and the little drummer boy would be compelled to raise the colors?
78
@75: Your link is broken, but assuming you referred to one of the MLK Day incidents, that's almost certainly a different cop.