By PoliceOne Staff
SEATTLE — Seattle police, already under scrutiny over use of force, have opened a criminal investigation into an off-duty officer who stomped on the head of a man who was handcuffed and lying on the ground.
The investigation began after other officers who responded to a December brawl outside a Ballard bar reported the officer's action to a supervisor, the Police Department said Wednesday in response to an inquiry from The Seattle Times.
The department did not name the officer in a statement detailing the incident. But the officer is identified in court papers as Garth Haynes, who joined the department in January 2009. He has been placed in a nonpatrol job while the matter is investigated, police said.
Read more on the Seattle Times and read the PD's full statement below the video.
Seattle Police Statement
An off-duty male Seattle Police officer and his male friend were at a nightclub in the Ballard neighborhood when they discovered that their coats were missing. The off-duty officer noticed a woman outside of the nightclub holding the missing jackets. The off-duty officer identified himself as a Seattle Police officer and informed the woman that she had taken two jackets not belonging to her and asked for them back. The woman refused, claiming that the jackets belonged to a friend. The woman began to walk away. The off-duty officer called 911 and together with his friend followed the woman on foot. Both the off-duty officer and his friend were attacked from behind by three male subjects unknown to them.
On-duty officers responded to the scene to restore order and investigate. The first arriving officer did not immediately recognize the off-duty officer among the five men. He decided to separate all five individuals by ordering them to the ground until back-up arrived. The on-duty officer witnessed a melee that included the first subject and the off-duty officer's friend both standing up but struggling with each other. The on-duty officer separated them and proceeded to the two remaining subjects and the off-duty officer. The off-duty officer was on his back on the sidewalk while the other two subjects were physically assaulting him. He removed the second subject off of the off-duty officer. At this point the on-duty officer recognized the off-duty officer as a colleague who worked in the same precinct but on a different watch. While attempting to disengage the third subject, the first subject had come over and kicked the off-duty officer in the head.
Additional officers arrived on the scene. With their assistance, all five men were separated and the scene was stabilized. By this time the woman who had stolen the two jackets had left the scene. As the investigation commenced, the off-duty officer made physical contact with one of the three handcuffed subjects. The investigating officers prevented any further contact between the off-duty officer and his assailants. The three subjects were booked into King County Jail and have since been charged with Assault in the 3rd degree. The off-duty officer was treated on scene by Seattle Fire Department medics and received additional treatment at an area hospital.
In adherence to department policy, the investigating officers immediately reported the off-duty officer's actions to their supervisor and subsequently the matter was referred to OPA. On December 14, 2010 the officer in question was administratively reassigned. The OPA referred the matter for internal criminal investigation and this remains active and ongoing. The off-duty officer in question was hired in January of 2009.
The release of this statement is in direct response to an existing media inquiry.