Seattle, WA – At least two Seattle police officers have been placed on administrative pending the outcome of an investigation into whether or not they participated in the Capitol riot while visiting Washington, DC last week.
The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) launched an internal investigation into the officers’ trip on Jan. 8, one day after a Seattle Police Department (SPD) employee passed along images showing the officers visiting the city on the same day the riot took place, The Seattle Times reported.
“A member of SPD notified their chain of command that photos on social media showed several two SPD officers apparently in Washington, D.C., the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol building,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a press release on Monday.
Chief Diaz said the photos were forwarded to him on the night of Jan. 7, and that he subsequently shared them with OPA Director Andrew Myerberg the same night.
“When I referred it to OPA, it was not apparent exactly where the photo was taken, or if those in the photo took any part in attacking the Capitol,” the chief noted. “I placed the identified officers on administrative leave because of the significance of what occurred in Washington, D.C.”
“When it was clear an investigation would be needed to determine if they did or did not participate in the violent events or any violations of federal law, I decided it was essential to our commitment to transparency and enhancing public trust that we share this information with the community,” Chief Diaz added.
The chief noted that both officers were off duty and were not in uniform when they visited the nation’s capital city, and said those actions alone “violates no policy or law.”
“I do not want to limit anyone’s ability to lawfully participate in First Amendment activities,” he claimed, just before he attempted to rationalize his decision to place the officers on leave without any evidence they had done anything wrong.
“The large number of people who forced their way into the Capitol, connected to the earlier political rally, presented too much of an unknown about whether any of our employees had potentially violated federal law,” Chief Diaz reasoned. “That is why I had to act.”
The chief said he asked the OPA to conduct an investigation into his officers “out of an abundance of caution” due to “the seriousness of what took place” at the Capitol.
He vowed to fire the officers in the event OPA “finds any evidence” they were “directly involved” in the rioting, and said any such findings will also be shared with federal officials.
“I made it very clear when I assumed this position, that any violation of community trust or any action that threatens our ability to serve this city will be met with full accountability,” Chief Diaz continued. “We cannot violate the same laws we are sworn to protect. We cannot allow violent or intimidating direct action to become acceptable in our society. If any SPD employee participated directly in assaulting the Capitol, I will terminate them.”
The chief praised the SPD employee who “spoke up” after seeing the photos.
“They saw behavior they thought might violate the values of this department and they spoke up. I thank them for that,” he said.
Myerberg said the OPA investigation is expected to take 30 days to complete, KCPQ reported.
“The fundamental question will be, ‘Is being present at the rally in and of itself a violation of department policy?’” Myerberg told The Seattle Times. “And I just don’t know that yet. I think it really depends on what they did and what their role was in those events.”
The OPA is also currently investigating Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan for retweeting a post that suggested liberal activists and Black Lives Matter are also partially responsible for the rioting that took place at the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6.
“Far right and far left are responsible for that sad day,” he wrote in a later tweet, according to KCPQ.
Chief Diaz denounced Solan’s comments, calling them “unacceptable,” KCPQ reported.
“It was such a huge challenge to our democracy, and it doesn’t matter if it’s left or right, like, we just cannot have that type of action in our country,” the chief said.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement calling Solan’s statements “wrong, immoral, and a lie,” KING reported.
“The violent and seditious actions we all witnessed were done by anti-government mobs, inspired and directed by President Trump and his legion of enablers,” Durkan wrote. “His statements do a huge disservice to the hundreds of police officers who work daily to serve the public and the rule of law, believe in equality, and were disgusted by Wednesday’s events.”
“His statements do not reflect the values of the City of Seattle but instead echo the failed lies of a failed presidency,” she added. “In fact, every officer at the Seattle Police Department has an obligation to not ‘post speech that negatively impacts the Department’s ability to serve the public.’”
The mayor demanded that Solan “retract his statements and apologize or resign,” KING reported.
SPD officials are also looking into employees’ social media accounts and other various sources to see if anyone else who works for the department was in Washington DC on the day of the riot, KCPQ.
Chief Diaz said that employees who post content expressing support for the Capitol riot are violating the SPD’s social media policy.