For Chief Diaz, a tumultuous tenure
A timeline of events during John Diaz’s tenure as Seattle police chief.
Seattle Times staff
In announcing his retirement, outgoing Seattle Police Chief John Diaz on Monday noted a reduction in crime, progress in departmental reforms and improved community relationships. His tenure was rocked by a number of events.
May 7, 2009: Diaz, who joined the department in 1980, is named interim chief after Gil Kerlikowske resigns.
Oct. 31: SPD Officer Timothy Brenton is killed and his partner is wounded when a gunman fires on their parked patrol car. Christopher Monfort is later charged with the slaying.
April 17, 2010: During an armed-robbery investigation, Officer Shandy Cobane shouts at a Latino suspect, “I’m going to beat the ... Mexican piss out of you, homey.” Diaz suspends Cobane for 30 days, the most severe punishment short of firing.
Aug. 16: Diaz, selected by Mayor Mike McGinn, is sworn in as Seattle’s first minority police chief.
Aug. 30: Officer Ian Birk fatally shoots First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams, who is carrying a knife his family says he used for carving. Birk later resigns from the force after a review panel deemed the shooting unnecessary.
Oct. 18: Officer James J. Lee kicks a boy, 17, three times at a Belltown convenience store, wrongly believing he had been involved in the assault of an undercover officer. Lee is charged with fourth-degree assault; the charge is later dismissed.
Nov. 18: The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington says it will ask the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct a civil-rights investigation of the SPD, citing “unnecessarily violent confrontations” with minorities.
Dec. 12: Officer Garth Haynes is captured on video pushing his foot on the head of a prone, handcuffed man during an off-duty incident. Haynes is charged with fourth-degree assault; a jury later acquits him.
Dec. 16, 2011: The DOJ concludes Seattle police officers have engaged in use of excessive force, and says it uncovered evidence of biased policing. Diaz and McGinn react angrily to the report, saying the “department is not broken.”
May 1, 2012: Violence and vandalism break out in downtown Seattle during May Day social-justice rallies. Business owners criticize police for failing to stop the violence.
Aug. 24: U.S. District Judge James Robart approves a historic settlement between the city and DOJ to overhaul SPD, paving the way for far-reaching reforms to curtail the use of excessive force.
Oct. 30: A federal judge approves Los Angeles police consultant Merrick Bobb as the independent monitor to oversee Seattle police reforms. Diaz had resisted the appointment of Bobb.
April 2: An independent review commissioned by Diaz is highly critical of SPD’s planning for the May Day protests, saying officers were confused over who was in charge and when they could use force to stop the violence.
April 8: Saying “it was time,” Diaz announces he is retiring, effective in 30 to 45 days. Assistant Chief Jim Pugel is named interim chief.
Seattle Times news researchers Gene Balk and Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.