Police Abuse

'It's a Lie, but It's Fun': An Officer's Falsified Report Leads to a Man's Suicide

The officer was suspended for only six days.

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The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) concluded late last year that a Seattle police officer's decision to lie about the victims of a car crash led the offending driver to commit suicide. The Seattle Times reported this week that the Seattle Police Department (SPD) responded to the finding by suspending the officer in question for only six days without pay.

The SPD's East Precinct officers were investigating a hit-and-run collision in May 2018. No injuries were sustained in the crash and the vehicles involved were still drivable. The East Precinct tasked two officers from the Southwest Precinct to locate the offending driver as records indicated that the driver might live in the area. The report says the Southwest Precinct officers were "aware that they were investigating a hit and run collision with no injuries."

Prior to approaching the residence, one of the officers said he would use a ruse in the questioning, saying, "it's a lie, but it's fun." A woman answered the door and informed the officers that while she knew the driver, he did not live at the house. He was a friend and she allowed him to register his car at her address since he didn't have a fixed residence.

The unnamed officer told the woman that her friend "was involved in a hit and run earlier that left a woman in critical condition and he left her." The officer added that the woman "might not survive."

The OPA, which issued a report in November 2019 about the unnamed officer's actions, reviewed body camera footage from the interaction. It noted that the woman was "clearly emotionally affected by the information provided to her."

The woman contacted her friend and repeated the story provided by the officer. She advised that he get an attorney and speak with his mother. At first, the driver was unconcerned as he did not recall being in an injury-causing collision. He said he had, at most, a "minor fender-bender." When they spoke again the next day, the driver became more concerned that he hit someone without realizing it.

OPA also noted that the driver was a heroin addict and had previous trouble with the law. The driver denied to a friend that he was high at the time of the collision as he had a new job and was saving money. Both he and the woman attempted to find more information about the crash, but grew concerned when they couldn't find anything. They thought the lack of information meant it was being held for a criminal investigation. The driver "seemed increasingly despondent regarding the collision and the possibility that he had killed someone," according to the OPA. 

The woman called another friend, who reached out to the driver about the collision. The second friend recalled the driver crying on the last day they saw each other. The driver left a bag of his personal belongings and addressed a note to the second friend, saying, "If you don't see me, keep this stuff."

Believing that he caused a severe injury that he couldn't recall, the driver committed suicide. His body was found on June 3, 2018. His family and friends continued to believe the version of events shared by the officer until they did their own investigation. After realizing the officer embellished his story, the woman who was initially interviewed by police contacted OPA on March 12, 2019.

During the investigation, the officer told OPA that he was aware that ruses, while allowable, were not supposed to "shock fundamental fairness." He also maintained that the woman was "kind of impeding the investigation," even though OPA found that the woman went through her phone when asked about a way to contact the driver. The officer responded to this by saying he didn't have time to wait for the information.

OPA determined that even if the driver hadn't committed suicide, the officer "engaged in unprofessional behavior" by using the ruse. OPA also concluded that the ruse "ultimately contributed" to the driver's suicide.

Chief Carmen Best agreed with the findings and suspended the officer for six days without pay, Detective Patrick Michaud of SPD Public Affairs confirmed to Reason.

"The officer's actions did not meet SPD's standards of acceptable use of discretion and were not consistent with the standards of professionalism or training," he said. "In 2019, the Seattle Police Department provided in-service training to all sergeants, officers, and detectives on the appropriate use of ruses during criminal investigations."

The Times, which initially broke the story, reached out to the department to uncover Best's rationale for the sentence. The Times reports that the department declined to provide a disciplinary action report. The department also declined to disclose the names of the officer and the driver.

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  1. Why I shed no tears when blue bellies off themselves.

    1. Yep. When it comes to the police, it’s us vs. them.

      1. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do

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    2. Only Blue Lives Matter.

  2. Professionalism isn’t a procedure they train.

    1. Professionalism, honesty, justice, honor all clash with their duty.

    2. Everyone seems to blame the cop. The hit and run driver should simply have turned himself in. It’s probably for the best that he’s out of the gene pool.

      1. “Everyone seems to blame the cop.”

        Everyone butt you, copsucker. If you were intellectually honest then you would say the same for the cop but you’re not. One person’s action resulted in minor property damage while the other’s resulted in death. Did the cop turn himself in?

        1. False equivalence.
          The hit-and-run accident is illegal, but the cop’s lying is not illegal. (If you claim it is, show us the actual law, regulation, or case law where it says that it is illegal for a cop to lie.)

          1. Did you know that lots of stuff that’s wrong is “legal” and lots of stuff that right is “illegal”? It’s almost like we should have a whole separate area of the law for one (we could call it “civil” law to confuse Southerners) and a whole branch of the judiciary to cover the other stuff.

            1. “we could call it “civil” law to confuse Southerners”

              The populace of Louisiana understands the difference between civil “law” and civil “code”

            2. Yeah, legal is not the same as moral is not the same as ethical.
              (Your using the terms “right” and “wrong” bring up morality and ethics.)

              But, lucky for us, we are generally not expected to turn ourselves in for immoral behavior nor for unethical behavior nor for civil wrongs, only illegal behavior.

              IF we lived in a society where we were expected to turn ourselves in for immoral or unethical behavior or civil wrongs, we’d probably have a situation like East Germany or the USSR or North Korea where everybody’s turning in everyone else, including family members, to get brownie points with the state.

              Lying is only illegal when under oath, luckily. That’s a very narrow and rare situation, and the person under oath is fully informed that they are under oath.

            3. Oh, I guess you’re trying to get me to use the term “criminal” instead of “illegal.” Point taken.

  3. So will this officer be prosecuted for murder like that teenage girl from Massachusetts? After all, his reckless misconduct caused an emotionally disturbed person to commit suicide.

    Yeah, I know… Don’t hold my breath

    1. Wish we could hold his…

      1. breath… dang this place needs an edit button. 🙂

        1. It used to have a preview button, but then they changed the format. It’s shit. I fucking hate it.

    2. I’m going to be “that guy”.

      I, and many others on this site, said that she shouldn’t have been found guilty (and the same with another, more recent case that Reason covered). The victim had free will and made a choice.

      Any opinions change now that it’s a cop?

      1. I think there are two profound differences here between the two cases.
        1. She told him to off himself. The cop did not.
        She did not have any real physical power over him. He could have simply ignored her.
        2. The cop represents a MASSIVE power imbalance.
        Blue bellies have the power to murder at will. They will taze your 70 year old mom if they can’t get to you. They cannot be ignored. You cannot simply walk away.

        I concur that she should never have been charged. Boyfriend made a bad choice but it was his free will.

        We are not free to exercise free will when it comes to police in this country. I don’t think murder is applicable here, but I would be happy to consider that the officer committed assault while in possession of a deadly weapon against the woman who answered the door. I think a good 2 year prison sentence is right for the blue belly.

        1. If not assault, then it should at least be considered using the power of his badge to perpetrate fraud.

        2. I agree with some of what you say. I have an internal definition of perjury, which is not the legal definition, so sometimes I call it “official obstruction”. Any action taken or statement made by someone in authority, which obstructs investigation or causes harm, makes you responsible for the consequences; in particular, that alone qualifies them for whatever punishment would have happened if they were believed.

          A cop who lies in his report or as a sworn witness is punished as the defendant could have been punished, whether or not he actually was.

          A used car salesman who says a car has no known defects, when he knows it does, has to pay the purchase price to whomever he lied to, even if they did not buy the car.

          Here, that cop was acting in his official duty, and as far as I (IANAL) am concerned, committed perjury. I’m not sure what his punishment should be; what would the difference be between minor hit-and-run and near-death hit-and-run?

          (I would also apply this to politicians. When Lizzie lies about the cost of her programs; when Mann lies in his bullshit graphs; well, not sure there are any actual consequences of their lies. But when a Congressional witness lies, as Mann did, or as gun control witnesses do when they conflate suicide with “gun violence”, they should be punished just as teh bill they supported would have punished somebody.)

          1. Problem is SCOTUS allows them to lie on purpose.
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frazier_v._Cupp

            As I understand it, you don’t have to hit someone to have it be assault. That’s battery. Threatening someone while in possession of a firearm is totally different level of assault.

            I could easily see this pig’s lie as a threat which is outside Frazier v. Cupp and vote to convict if on a jury.

          2. Might be better to call what the cop did simple fraud.
            He made a false claim or representation to a person (indirectly), that person took that false claim as true and made a decision upon it, suffering damages (death).
            Your used car salesman example is fraud.

            Now, the badge/office/police power that the cop has complicates things. He committed fraud under “color of authority.” Is that worse than fraud? Probably. We are indoctrinated by US society and our education system to believe cops more than used car salesmen. Whose fault is that? Well, probably our parents, who were probably the first to tell us that cops are good guys worth trusting (“If you get lost, Timmy, find a cop–you can trust them!”).

            We are also leaving out the fact that the cop could not have known that the suicider would take such drastic action. If a used car salesman defrauds you, his expectation is that you will buy the defective car, not commit suicide. So some consideration of whether a reasonable person would have expected the outcome probably weighs in this judgment.

      2. I agree that she should not have been found guilty. The prosecution in her case, like a prosecution in this case, would be an overreach. But my comment was addressed more to the leniency Prosecutors show cops when a private citizen civilian would have the book thrown at him or her in similar circumstances.

      3. “Any opinions change now that it’s a cop?”

        Apples and oranges.

        1. Exactly.

      4. Cant believe that this is actually happening! hobby ladies

    3. I wouldn’t count on the Blue Mafia making that leap.

    4. After all, his reckless misconduct caused an emotionally disturbed person to commit suicide.

      I’m going to be ‘that guy’ (or the other one, apparently) but, the officer didn’t kill the fictitious woman, someone in the phone game did. How do we let teenage girl from MA off† *and* the person in phone game off while “convicting” the officer?

      †Depending on the teenage girl, I didn’t think she should be let off.

  4. “it’s a lie, but it’s fun.”

    “Ha, HA!! So’s your ‘six-day suspension’!”

  5. I’m glad they only gave him a six-day suspension, seven days off would have been cruel and unusual.

    /sarc

    1. On the seventh day, it was his turn to but the donuts.

  6. So some scumbag junkie is told he has caused a serious injury to somebody and feels so guilty about it that he commits suicide and a trusted, upstanding officer of the law is told he has contributed to the death of somebody and he feels…..? My bet it ain’t “guilty”. Or even “concerned”.

  7. Always reminds me of that line in Blade Runner. You’re either cop or you’re little people.

    Fuck him.

    1. To a cop, there are two kinds of people, other cops and suspects.

  8. Did the driver come forward and face the law? Whether or not he caused injury, he is still guilty of the hit and run. Had he turned himself in or the woman not impeded law enforcement in finding him then he would have learned the truth.
    There’s a series of events here that led to his death. Placing all the blame on the officers isn’t right. However, I’ll agree it was unprofessional. Do I think that such a ruse is uncommon or ineffective in getting truthful confessions? No. The suspension seems enough to me and I would hope that they feel guilty for how things snowballed

    1. All the blame is on the officer – by right. Don’t try to excuse this behavior. The officer callously lied because he was fucking with them. It was a damned ‘no-injury hit and run’. There is not excuse for lying in that situation.

      1. The officer is using the Iran defense: Look what you made me do!

    2. “I would hope that they feel guilty for how things snowballed”

      Bwahahaha emkay

      You forget the cop packed and hurled the snowball. He bore false witness. Nuff said. Maybe not.

      ” Bearing false witness is mentioned many times in the Bible, exclusively as something bad. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” is the ninth of the Ten Commandments…
      The Bible calls bearing false witness lying (Proverbs 14:5) and compares a man who bears false witness against his neighbor to a violent weapon (Proverbs 25:18). Lies harm people.

      This was an agent of the state. Too bad you do not appreciate that distinction.

    3. *Placing all the blame on the officers isn’t right. *
      Nice strawman you’ve got there. If 6 days is about right for a lie that gets someone to kill themselves, what should be the price of a dead dog or wife when Officer Pantsonfire goes to the wrong house?

      1. what should be the price of a dead dog or wife when Officer Pantsonfire goes to the wrong house?

        Shotgun blast to the face.

  9. “The officer’s actions did not meet SPD’s standards of acceptable use of discretion and were not consistent with the standards of professionalism or training,” he said. “In 2019, the Seattle Police Department provided in-service training to all sergeants, officers, and detectives on the appropriate use of ruses during criminal investigations.”

    I’m ocnfused. They admit that these actions don’t meet standards? And I assume the officer was at least a Sergeant – as they specifically mention training provided to Sgts and up. So he’s not a new guy, he’s an experienced, seasoned, and (supposedly) mature officer.

    It doesn’t sound to me like this is someone who can be re-trained. Old dogs don’t change their spots.

    1. Read it again. “Sergeants, officers and detectives” — each has a specific meaning, which is why all three were specified.

  10. If there was a serious injury, then it would have been publicized with a plea for anyone with information to come forward. The lack of information indicates that there was no serious injury.

  11. As long as cops are allowed to lie to citizens, it should be legal for us to lie to cops.

    1. This. How long did Martha Stewart go to jail for lying? Lying to a citzen should be the same crime as lying to an investigator. Equality under the law.

    2. Do you mean it’s not legal to lie to cops? I wasn’t aware and never really thought about it whether it might be a crime in itself.

      I was once asked on an application whether I had ever lied to the police. Because I considered it a stupid question, I wrote a joke answer: “Yes, I once told Stuart Copeland that I thought Dadoodoodoo Dadadada was a great title for a song.” I didn’t get a call back, but who knows if that was the reason.

      1. Depending on the circumstances, lying to the police can be “obstructing official business”, “obstruction of justice”, or perjury.

  12. the officers should be fired. i don’t need them brought up on any charges.

    as a civilian/taxpayer, i would be satisfied with that outcome.

  13. Every time the officer testifies in court, or even filled out a report that is used in a prosecution this lie should be brought up. Or rather, he should be fired because he can’t do the part of his job involving testifying.

  14. suspending the officer in question for only six days without pay.

    I hope that they entered a judgement and told payroll to suspend the guys pay forever. Would be a least a little bit just if he came back to work – expected his next paycheck – didn’t get it – complained and was told ‘We lied but its fun’.

  15. I agree that she should not have been found guilty. The prosecution in her case, like a prosecution in this case, would be an overreach. But my comment was addressed more to the leniency Prosecutors show cops when a private citizen civilian would have the book thrown at him or her in similar circumstances. Biography

  16. Remember : Never talk to the police.

  17. I really am amused at the idea of a magazine which thinks government power is a terrible thing is upset when the government doesn’t use more power against someone.

  18. You know who lies because it’s fun? Fucking sociopaths.

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  21. WOW.

    That’s nothing to do with professionalism and everything to do with the cops involved as not only being pure assholes but evil as well.

    Hope God’s wrath comes down hard on them.

  22. This cop is a filthy pig who should be fired and banned from law enforcement for life. The system takes care of its own. We the people continue to be unwitting victims.

  23. 6 days off without pay. I don’t get paid next week but I also don’t have to work……..seems like a wash.

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