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Originally published July 14, 2011 at 5:05 PM | Page modified July 15, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Seattle police sergeant disciplined over ethnic-insult incident

A Seattle police sergeant who responded to the South Lake Union robbery investigation in which a gang detective threatened to beat the "Mexican piss" out of a prone Latino man has been suspended for 10 days without pay for lack of supervision.

Seattle Times staff reporter

quotes It does seem odd that many SPD disciplinary measures only seem to be taken after a... Read more
quotes "Prosecutors found no evidence of criminal conduct by Cobane and Woollum, nor were... Read more
quotes The reason given for the suspension was "lack of supervision." I say every... Read more

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A Seattle police sergeant who responded to the South Lake Union robbery investigation in which a gang detective threatened to beat the "Mexican piss" out of a prone Latino man has been suspended for 10 days without pay for lack of supervision.

Police Chief John Diaz imposed the penalty on Sgt. Keith Swank, the acting watch lieutenant at the time, according to internal-investigation documents made public Thursday in response to a public-disclosure request by The Seattle Times.

"The failure of first line supervision to assume command and control at this incident is glaring," a department summary said. "Had Sergeant Swank been less of a bystander and taken command of the scene, this event may have had a more satisfactory outcome."

In May, Diaz suspended the gang detective, Shandy Cobane, for 30 days without pay over the April 2010 incident, citing his remark and other misconduct.

Cobane and Officer Mary Woollum were among a group of officers who detained the man, Martin Monetti Jr., who was released when police determined he was not involved in the crime.

While Monetti was on the ground, Cobane and Woollum used their feet to control him, either stomping, stepping on or trapping him, depending on various accounts.

Prosecutors found no evidence of criminal conduct by Cobane and Woollum, nor were they found by the department's Office of Professional Accountability to have used improper force.

But Cobane and Woollum failed to report the use of force, and Cobane also used profanity that violated department rules, Diaz found.

Woollum was handed a written reprimand for her misconduct, according to the newly disclosed records.

Cobane, in addition to his suspension, was demoted to patrol officer. He also was ordered to undergo further training, perform community work and educate other officers about his misconduct.

Swank, who was ordered to undergo counseling and retraining, failed to recognize the serious misconduct of Cobane's remark and "minimized the situation rather than appreciating the severe negative impact of the language" on Monetti and many others who viewed the videotape, according to a department summary of the investigation.

The conduct of four other officers also was examined in the internal investigation, with no findings of misconduct.

Monetti filed a federal lawsuit last month over the incident, naming the city, Cobane and Woollum.

Steve Miletich: 206-464-3302 or smiletich@seattletimes.com

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