Police Abuse

Police Continue to Harass and Threaten Citizens for Perfectly Legal Act of Photographing Them


Seattle cops continue to be officious threatening douches to citizens doing things perfectly legal, even though they are under a federal court order to essentially stop being such threatening douches, the Seattle Stranger reports:

dmixo6 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The setup: Stranger writer sees a bunch of cops surrounding a guy, starts taking pictures. Again, the hard life of a police officer is exhibited: nearly any encounter with anyone can turn ugly and nasty, as soon as the cop chooses to make it so:

King County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Patrick "K.C." Saulet rushed over and told me to leave or be arrested. He claimed I was standing on transit station property; the plaza belongs to King County Metro's International District Station and I could not stand there, he said. I backed up about two feet over the line that he pointed out (two parts of the same walkway) until I was unambiguously on the City of Seattle's sidewalk, near a utility pole by the curb. But Officer Saulet then insisted that I would be arrested unless I left the entire block…..

Back to Saulet: "You need to leave or you're coming with me," he said while repeating his arrest threat yet again. Commuters, shoppers, and vagrants were milling about the sidewalk and plaza—some people were passing closer to the center of the police activity than I was—but I was the only one on that busy block told to leave (the guy watching the police and taking their picture)…..

Saulet has a long history of abusive policing. In 2006, the Seattle PI reported the he has 12 sustained misconduct complaints against him and "one of the worst misconduct histories in the King County Sheriff's Office."….

 I was jotting down a few notes so I'd remember what happened when I saw three officers leaving the scene. I asked them who was the commanding officer on scene.,,,Then Seattle police officer John Marion asked why I was asking.

I explained to him that I'd just been threatened with arrest for standing on the sidewalk (even though he'd just watched the whole thing), so I wanted to know who was in charge and if he thought it was illegal to stand on the sidewalk.

Instead of answering, Officer Marion asked why I was asking him questions.

I explained that I'm a reporter and I didn't think I'd broken any laws. He asked what news outlet I worked for. The Stranger, I told him.

Then Officer Marion said this: "I'm going to come into The Stranger and bother you while you're at work." He asked for my business card so he could get the address to come to my office, and, twice more, he threatened to come harass me at work. His point, he said, was that I was "harassing" him.

Of course, he was violating no law. He writes that he intends to file a complaint with SPD, 

Because it shouldn't be considered professional conduct in our county police force to threaten law-abiding citizens with arrest. It's rank intimidation. I also can't imagine that when that civilian asks a question of city officers—am I breaking the law?—that it is considered professional to threaten the civilian with visiting his place of work and harass him. If either of those things are considered acceptable, we should change the code of police conduct, because both are insane. And if they aren't considered acceptable, I expect the departments to punish the cops involved.

Well, good luck with that.

Hat tip: Radley Balko, who wrote for us this January 2011 classic feature on the illegitimate police war on citizens who photograph or film them.