The Department of Justice’s welcome among the Seattle Police Department seems to be wearing thin. They were brought in to investigate biased policing last year and issued a report in December indicating there was evidence of such policing. But their reports are being criticized by city officials in a civil rights lawsuit filed by a Seattle citizen.
According to the Seattle Times, Martin Monetti Jr. is suing the city for violating his rights in a case where he was held face-down in the pavement during a robbery investigation, and told by a police officer that he would have the “Mexican piss” beat out of him. Though the officer in question was disciplined for his statements, the city says the DOJ report about biased policing should not be entered as evidence in the pending lawsuit.
The city attorney’s office is criticizing the findings of the Department of Justice, saying their reports are not founded on concrete data, merely using “’subjective opinions’ of two retired law-enforcement officials hired as consultants.”
They say the report is full of errors and should be ruled as “inadmissible hearsay opinion” in the civil rights lawsuit.
But while the city attorneys are criticizing the report, federal officials have their attention on other matters in the Monetti case, namely the sworn statements of officers in the case which indicate a “culture of biased policing,” something the feds found “strong, but inconclusive, evidence” of in their initial investigation.
From the Seattle Times:
The filings have also added another flash point to the already difficult negotiations: Cobane (the police officer in the Monetti case) acknowledged in a deposition taken May 21 that there is a department culture that tolerates that sort of language. DOJ lawyers cited the Monetti case in their December report as troubling evidence of biased policing in the department.
Bates said the depositions demonstrate that the officers involved in the Monetti incident continue to be “woefully unaware” of the department’s policies regarding use of force and biased policing.
For example, Bates said, Cobane acknowledged that, two years after the incident with Monetti and after being reprimanded and ordered into additional training, he is unfamiliar with the department’s policy on unbiased policing.
All of this comes at a time when the Department of Justice is seeking a court-monitored consent decree on the Seattle police force. This consent-decree would allow the DOJ to maintain oversight of the city’s police department as they cleared up any problems, including any culture of biased policing.
Strong language is not unusual for cops. Using profanity and even racially charged language is more common than most people recognize. It isn’t until a case is made public, as in the Monetti case, that the general public becomes aware of it.
If you are accused of a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas and aren’t confident of your ability to be treated fairly, we understand. Contact our offices today to see how we might be able to help.