KIRO 7 Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter
Posted: 2:41 pm PDT May 7, 2010
Updated: 9:30 am PDT May 9, 2010
SEATTLE — City leaders expressed shock and disappointment Friday at video that first aired on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News showing two Seattle police officers kicking a man as he lay on the ground. The man was detained during a robbery investigation last month.
The two officers have been reassigned as police conduct an investigation amid a firestorm of reaction. And another controversy has arisen over why a Seattle TV station declined to air the video. [See Why Was Police Video Not Shown Earlier?]
The racially charged videotape shows officers stomping on the innocent detainee after they responded to several 911 calls for a report of an armed robbery in the parking lot of a night club near Lake Union.
In the video, a male officer is seen kicking the man who had been ordered to the ground while threatening him with racial slurs. Shortly after, a female officer kicked the man in the back of his leg.
The man was released when the officers realized he was not involved in the reported crime.
Internal Affairs investigators have been looking at accusations of misconduct by the officers since April 17, but Seattle’s interim Police Chief John Diaz kept the allegations out of the public eye until KIRO 7 aired the video, said reporter Chris Halsne.
At City Hall, KIRO 7 spoke with Diaz as he was coming out of the Mayor’s office Friday morning. Diaz is one of nine finalists for the permanent police chief job.
“I do have to say that I’m very disappointed in what has occurred,” Diaz said. See full interview
Diaz said he personally knows the male officer involved in the allegations, but said he has not watched the video to avoid any conflicts.
“In the heat of the moment, people make mistakes but, once again, I understand that. However, we have a strong commitment of insuring that we hold all our officers accountable,” Diaz said.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who earlier this week did not respond to multiple requests from KIRO 7 to speak about the matter, said he did not see the video until Friday morning.
“I saw the video this morning, and spoke to Chief Diaz this morning about it,” McGinn told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.
Question: “It wasn’t brought to your attention prior to today?”
Mayor: “It wasn’t brought to my attention prior to today.”
Question: “Does that bother you?”
Mayor: (Pause) “I have a very strong relationship with Chief Diaz.”
Sources inside the Seattle Police Department told KIRO 7 the male officer seen kicking the man is Gang Unit Detective Shandy Cobane.
Cobane, who has spent 16 years on the police force, was East Precinct Officer of the Year in 2004 and was named president of the 1994 class at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
In another reaction to the video, the locally-based immigrant advocacy group OneAmerica issued a newsletter Friday saying the attack seen in the video was the “latest example of ongoing racial profiling both locally and nationally.”
The story that first aired Thursday night at 11 p.m. has prompted viewers to post dozens of pages of comments, many outraged at what they saw.
“Wow…I don’t even have words….this turned my stomach and made me sick. I am so tired of watching stories of police officers abusing their power and avoiding their real duties,” said poster rkg88.
Meanwhile, the freelance photographer who shot the video told KIRO TV another TV station seemed to want to sweep what they saw under the rug.
The Stranger asks ‘Did Q-13 Fox Suppress Police Brutality Video?’ on its blog.
Morris told KIRO TV that when showed the video to that station, he was told, “We’re definitely not going to run this.”
Morris told KIRO 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne he believes the station declined to run the video to protect police.
“The station has a close relationship with police agencies because it airs Washington’s Most Wanted,” Morris said.
“Washington’s Most Wanted is their money-maker,” he said.
A few days after he shot the video, he was fired, Morris said.
“I’ve shot a lot of news. This, by far, is the most important news story I’ve ever shot,” said Morris.
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