Bellevue cops punished for bad behavior in, outside Hawks stadium
The Bellevue Police Department disciplines, but doesn't fire, two off-duty officers involved in altercations with a Seattle officer and fans at a Seahawks game
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two Bellevue police officers have been disciplined — one demoted, the other suspended for 30 days — for their off-duty behavior at a Seahawks game in September, when they drunkenly confronted a female Seattle police officer and got into a profanity-laced altercation with a fan and his family.
After the pair and a third member of their group were thrown out of CenturyLink Field, one of the officers drove while under the influence of alcohol, but the department could not prosecute him because his level of intoxication could not be determined, an internal investigation has found.
A fourth member of the group, a female detective, was exonerated of wrongdoing after the investigation by the Bellevue Police Department.
"I am convinced that these officers have learned a very hard lesson, and their actions in the future will always meet the high standards of behavior that the Bellevue community rightfully demands of their police," Bellevue police Chief Linda Pillo said Tuesday in a prepared statement.
Dion Robertson, a 22-year veteran, was demoted from corporal to officer and lost his supervisory responsibilities on the department's Bomb Squad, resulting in a "significant" annual loss of pay, according to Pillo.
Officer Andy Hanke, a seven-year veteran, was suspended for 30 days without pay and removed from the Bomb Squad, also resulting in a significant loss in annual wages, the chief said.
Department spokeswoman Officer Carla Iafrate would not say the amount of lost salary for each officer. Hanke earned $92,655 and Robertson made $108,985 for the fiscal year ending in June 2011, according to state records.
Both officers were found to have violated department policies on personal conduct and behavior, courtesy and the department's Code of Ethics. Hanke also was found to have violated the department's obedience-to-laws policy for driving home from the game while under the influence of alcohol.
In clearing the detective of wrongdoing, the department said earlier reports that she had warned an angry fan at the game to be "careful" driving in Bellevue were wrong. That statement was reportedly made by another group member, a Bellevue public-utilities employee, according to the investigation. It was unknown if any action was taken against that employee.
The detective's name was not released.
"Some citizens demanded I terminate these officers," Pillo said of Hanke and Robertson. "Once the facts were uncovered ... it was clear their actions, although embarrassing and disheartening, did not rise to the level of termination."
Hanke, Robertson, the detective and the female utilities employee attended the Seahawks' Sept. 16 game against the Dallas Cowboys at CenturyLink Field. The internal investigation determined Hanke, Robertson and the utilities worker — who was not identified by name — were involved in two incidents before and during the game.
The first occurred outside the stadium, when a uniformed Seattle police officer stopped the group after one of its members — the utilities employee, according to the investigation — littered. When some in the group responded by taunting and surrounding the Seattle officer, she called for her supervisor and asked other officers to respond.
"Robertson and Hanke ... used profane language while confronting the SPD officer," the investigation found.
No charges or citations were issued by Seattle police and the group was allowed to leave, police said.
The four proceeded into the stadium, where Hanke and Robertson got into another run-in with a fan and his family.
The fan, 49, a season-ticket holder from Burien, told The Seattle Times the group's behavior and "F-bomb"-laced language in front of his children was so disturbing that he summoned ushers, who in turn called stadium "Fan Experience" officials and alcohol-enforcement officers who ejected Robertson, Hanke and the utilities worker from the stadium.
The group's behavior was "deplorable" from the moment they got to their seats, the fan said.
"I counted five F-bombs before I leaned over and asked politely if they could hold it down, that my son was here," he told The Times.
Iafrate, the Bellevue police spokeswoman, said the female detective was not involved in the fracas inside the stadium, nor was she thrown out of the game.
The fan said at least one of the men identified himself as a Bellevue police officer to stadium security officials.
Iafrate said a badge was displayed only when the officers were asked for identification. She said none of the officers was armed at the time.
After learning of the incident, Seattle police Assistant Chief Jim Pugel called Pillo, the Bellevue chief, to alert her. Pillo responded by calling the female Seattle officer who was confronted outside the stadium to apologize.
Hanke and Robertson also issued written apologies, released Tuesday.
"My behavior was inappropriate, disrespectful and lacked the professionalism you expect from me in my position," Hanke wrote. "I deeply regret the negative impact this has had on my fellow law enforcement officers and the citizens we serve."
Robertson wrote: "I want to express my humble apologies to all involved for my inexcusable behavior ... I was completely out of line and not behaving in a manner anyone should."
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times staff reporter Justin Mayo and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from Times archives.