Longtime police accountability activist Rev. Harriett Walden—who’s behind a campaign to get City Attorney Pete Holmes to drop assault charges against Seattle police officer Garth Haynes—says she wants Holmes to know “this case really reeks of racism.”
“The more I hear about this case, the more troubling it is,” she says. “These issues need to be addressed.”
In December 2010, Officer Garth Haynes was involved in a fight with three men outside a Ballard nightclub while off duty, after he confronted a woman who had left the bar with his coat.
After officers arrived and arrested the three men, Haynes was caught on video kicking one of the suspects who was handcuffed and on the ground. One of the three men—who is white—was also captured by a patrol car camera referring to Haynes—who is black—with a racial slur, calling him “a spook.”
In July, Holmes filed assault charges against Haynes.[pullquote]”There’s not a white officer in America that would take a butt-whupping from three black men and not shoot them.”—Harriett Walden[/pullquote]
“I think it’s outrageous [Holmes] brought these charges against a young man who showed great restraint,” says Walden, referring to Haynes. “There’s not a white officer in America that would take a butt-whupping from three black men and not shoot them.”
Walden is a bit of an unexpected ally for a Seattle police officer. As founder of Mothers For Police Accountability, she has often been an outspoken critic of SPD.
“We’ve always been for fairness,” she says. “We want police officers who do their job in a good and fair way. I’m critical of the police when they’re wrong.”
In a response to a request for comment from PubliCola, Holmes’ office sent a copy of the form letter they’ve sent to petitioners who have emailed their office regarding charges against Haynes.
The Seattle City Attorney’s office also provided the names of 86 of the people who’ve signed the petition. The list includes dozens of police officers, including officer Kevin Oshikawa-Clay, who was recently named in a misconduct lawsuit.
Thank you for your message regarding City of Seattle v. Garth Haynes. Because this criminal case is still pending, the Rules of Professional Responsibility prohibit me as the City’s prosecutor from commenting on specific details. I can confirm, however, that the decision to charge Officer Haynes with misdemeanor assault was only made after a careful review of all the facts and applicable law.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) previously reviewed this matter thoroughly and determined that there are insufficient facts to charge a “hate crime” under state law. The KCPAO did, however, charge each of the other individuals with felony assault of a police officer. These felony charges were later dismissed with prejudice by King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle for the reasons set forth in her attached order.
We both share in the belief that that there is a constitutional right to equal treatment under the law. As the City Attorney, it is my duty to ensure that I apply the law equally to everyone, even if the decision is met with public criticism. I have done so in this matter, as I must continue to ensure that police officers, whether on duty or not, are held accountable for their actions—regardless of race.
Thanks again for contacting me.
Seattle City Attorney