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Originally published September 29, 2009 at 12:04 AM | Page modified September 29, 2009 at 12:46 AM

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Sheriff fires deputy in video of teen suspect beaten in cell

Sheriff Sue Rahr has fired the King County sheriff's deputy accused of roughing up a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell in an incident that was caught on video.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sheriff Sue Rahr has fired the King County sheriff's deputy who is accused of beating up a 15-year-old girl in a holding cell in an incident that was caught on video.

Deputy Paul Schene, 32, who was charged with misdemeanor assault for the alleged attack on Malika Calhoun, now 16, could also be stripped of his state certification, which would bar him from joining another Washington police force.

Schene was fired on Sept. 9 after the deputy and his attorney appeared for a hearing to present Rahr with his version of events, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart.

A lengthy internal investigation was prompted when the video of the altercation, captured by a surveillance camera, was reported to sheriff's officials three days after the confrontation last November inside a holding cell. Schene's precinct commander sustained several allegations against Schene, including excessive or unnecessary use of force, criminal conduct and making false statements, according to Urquhart. The precinct commander and chief of field operations both recommended to Rahr that Schene be fired, he said.

The county recently reached a settlement on a lawsuit filed by Calhoun, paying $125,000 to a trust created in her name, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

The U.S. Department of Justice is also reviewing the video to determine if Schene violated Calhoun's civil rights.

Peter Offenbecher, who is representing Schene in his criminal case and in connection with his termination from the Sheriff's Office, declined to comment Monday. He wouldn't say whether Schene intends to appeal his firing.

Schene has two options for appeal: He could either ask his union, the King County Police Officers Guild, to initiate — and pay for — an arbitration process, or he could appeal to the newly revived King County Civil Service Commission, a three-member board that hears discipline disputes involving sheriff's deputies.

A call to the guild was not returned Monday. Urquhart said the Sheriff's Office has not been notified of an appeal by Schene.

Sheriff's officials, however, are preparing a letter to notify the state Criminal Justice Training Commission of Schene's firing and the reasons for his termination, Urquhart said.

Under state law, the commission is responsible for certifying the state's peace officers, who include deputies, police officers and state troopers. The commission can revoke certification when an officer "has been discharged for disqualifying conduct" and "the discharge is final," meaning that any appeal has been heard and resolved, the law says.

If his certification is revoked, Schene would be barred from working as a police officer anywhere in the state.

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Schene is accused of kicking Calhoun in the abdomen, punching her and pulling her hair in a SeaTac City Hall holding cell after her arrest for investigation of car theft on Nov. 29.

In the video, Calhoun is seen kicking off her tennis shoe, which hit Schene's shin as he was closing a holding-cell door. Schene then charges into the cell, throwing Calhoun against the back wall next to a toilet. He knocks her to the floor and, with the help of another deputy, holds her down while he punches her. He then picks her up by the hair and marches her out of the cell.

The deputy later said he suffered an injury to his shin from the teen's shoe. He then arrested Calhoun on investigation of third-degree assault.

Written reports of Calhoun's stolen-car arrest indicate that none of the deputies involved reported the incident in the holding cell. A couple of days later, a detective following up on the third-degree assault charge against Calhoun pulled the video and, disturbed by the footage, notified her superiors, Urquhart said. Schene was then placed on administrative leave while the incident was investigated.

Though Schene suffered a bruise to his leg, sheriff's officials don't believe he was injured by Calhoun's shoe.

"It appears from the video that he hit his shin on the toilet when he went after her," Urquhart said.

Rookie Deputy Travis Brunner, who was training with Schene and is seen on the video holding Calhoun down, is also being investigated for misconduct.

The car-theft charge against Calhoun was dismissed in exchange for her agreement to perform community service.

However, earlier this year she was charged with felony harassment and criminal trespassing, a gross misdemeanor, in an unrelated case in which she allegedly threatened a 17-year-old girl at Westfield Southcenter mall on Feb. 2.

Calhoun is scheduled to be tried on the charges today in King County Juvenile Court. If convicted, she faces up to 30 days in jail.

Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report. Information from Seattle Times archives is also included in this story.

Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or sgreen@seattletimes.com

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