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Originally published September 18, 2012 at 9:04 PM | Page modified September 21, 2012 at 8:10 AM

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Off-duty Bellevue officers reportedly taunt and surround SPD officers after littering incident

Bellevue police have opened an internal investigation into an "altercation" involving three off-duty Bellevue officers who reportedly confronted a Seattle police officer outside CenturyLink Stadium before Sunday's Seahawks game.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Rowdy fans outside Seahawks games are hardly anything new to Seattle police.

But one officer's encounter Sunday with a reportedly unruly group has prompted an apology and an internal investigation by the Bellevue Police Department.

Bellevue police confirmed Tuesday the department has opened an investigation into an "altercation" involving three off-duty Bellevue officers who reportedly confronted a Seattle police officer outside CenturyLink Stadium before Sunday's game.

Seattle police Assistant Chief Jim Pugel said a uniformed female officer was on duty at the intersection of Third Avenue South and Royal Brougham Way when one member of a group walking past her threw litter on the ground. The officer approached them and asked that they pick up the discarded item — reported to be a beer cup — and put it in a trash can, Pugel said.

Pugel said the Seattle officer was not attempting to make an arrest or issue a ticket. Rather, he said, she merely had asked as a courtesy "that they not litter in our city."

Pugel said some members of the group turned and began to berate the officer. At least two "identified themselves as Bellevue police officers," he said.

"They called her names and surrounded her," Pugel said. None of the officers involved was identified.

According to a source familiar with the incident, who asked not to be named, another Seattle officer became so concerned that she called for backup. Additional officers, a sergeant and a lieutenant responded.

Pugel said the supervisors were also sworn at and taunted by members of the unruly group.

The source said the off-duty Bellevue officers and their companions appeared to be intoxicated and flashed their badges.

The Bellevue officers were allowed to go on their way with no arrests or citations, said Seattle police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb. No reports were written about the incident "because no crime was committed," he said.

Pugel said he called Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo after the incident was reported to him by the female officer's commander.

Pillo, in a prepared statement released Tuesday, said she has ordered the department's Office of Professional Standards to investigate.

"I personally called the Seattle officer involved to offer my sincere apology on behalf of the department, and made it clear that if there was any unacceptable behavior by our officers, in NO WAY does this reflect who we are as an organization," the chief said in the statement. "This is a rare anomaly in our department and it is disappointing."

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or mcarter@seattletimes.com

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