Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has been inundated with emails over the last month, asking him to drop charges against Seattle police officer Garth Haynes, who has apparently found an unexpected ally in an anti-police brutality activist. In July, the city attorney’s office charged Haynes with misdemeanor assault.
Haynes was involved in an altercation with three men outside of a Ballard bar in December 2010. Haynes was off-duty at Bal-Mar in Ballard with a friend when he spotted a woman leaving the bar with their coats. Haynes confronted the woman, and got into an fight with three men, who did not know the woman.
Haynes, who sustained a concussion in the melee, was later captured on patrol car video kicking one of the handcuffed suspects.
Officer Haynes, following the incident
Haynes later declined to testify against the three suspects—because he was potentially facing a charge himself—and King County prosecutors dropped their case against the three men.
Since being charged, Haynes, who is African American, has received support from the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington and the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) which railed against Holmes, and claimed Haynes was the victim of a racially motivated attack. A patrol car video later aired on KIRO TV showed one the suspects referring to Haynes with a racist slur, calling him a “frickin’ spook.”
Earlier this month, letters began pouring in to Holmes’ office—86 in a two week period. As of October 14th, Holmes office had also received 86 emails—all form letters—demanding Holmes drop the charges.
The letter says it is “unjust” that Haynes was charged with assault while the cases against the other men involved in the brawl were dropped, and calls the attack on Haynes a “hate crime.”
In a strange twist, the petition drive was apparently orchestrated by Rev. Harriett Walden, founder of Mothers For Police Accountability. Walden has been a police accountability activist and longtime critic of the Seattle Police Department—and her strong show of support for a Seattle police officer comes as a bit of a surprise.
“In the past [Walden] has not been arm and arm with the police union,” says SPOG President Rich O’Neill. “I’m very pleased members of the community were as outraged as we were. I respect her for it.”
“It’s an injustice for someone who’s African-American who happens to be a police officer, “O’Neill says. “If he was a plumber, if he was a carpenter, Holmes wouldn’t have even filed charges to begin with.”
Walden was not immediately available to talk about the petition, but we’ll be speaking with her later today.
So far, in addition to the 86 emails, a total of 145 people had signed the petition—posted below—online, including a North Precinct burglary detective and an East Precinct patrol officer.
Holmes’ spokeswoman was not available for comment.
Drop all charges against Officer Garth Haynes
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Peter Holmes, Seattle City Attorney.
Drop all charges against Officer Garth Haynes.
I agree with BLEAW that the charges against Seattle Police Officer Garth Haynes are unjust and that if he is charged ALL parties should be charged.
This off duty officer showed great restraint in not discharging his weapon while under a racist attack. One of the individuals who assaulted Officer Haynes can clearly be heard using a racial slur in reference to Officer Haynes (calling him “a freaking spook”) and justifying his actions because it was a “Black man harassing a White girl.”
We demand that charges be dropped against Officer Haynes unless all parties are charged.
We have a constitutional right to equal protection under the law. Officer Haynes while off duty was the victim of a hate crime and all charges against his assailants were dropped with prejudice. If his attackers, caught on tape, are not charged, he should not be.