Cop who stepped on man’s head cleared of misconduct by SPD

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Video showing Haynes stepping on a man’s head following a bar brawl.

SEATTLE — An off-duty police officer who stepped on a man’s head following a 2010 bar brawl was cleared of wrongdoing, Seattle police said Tuesday.

Officer Garth Haynes was cleared of any police department misconduct in the 2010 case, in which the officer was involved in a fight outside a Belltown bar.

Interim Police Chief Harry Bailey recommended clearing wrongdoing after two medical experts stepped forward alleging a concussion from the bar brawl may have contributed Haynes’ actions.

On Dec. 12, 2010, Haynes was waiting outside a Belltown bar off-duty when he noticed a woman walking outside of the bar with his friend’s jacket. Though the woman gave the jacket back when they approached her, Haynes suspected the women was trying to steal the jacket, and showed his badge and stated he was responding to a theft.

Others standing outside the bar became involved, police said, and the situation quickly escalated into a fistfight. SPD officers responded, pulled Haynes out of the melee and detained three men. As one of the men lay face down on the ground, video showed Haynes press the suspect’s head down against the ground with his foot.

After the video was released, the City Attorney’s Office charged Haynes with assault for stepping on the man’s head. But expert witness testimony produced by Haynes’ lawyers claimed Haynes had suffered a concussion in the fight, and the injury combined with a heightened state of agitation contributed to Haynes being out of control with his actions. The jury acquitted Haynes of the misdemeanor assault charge.

Haynes was still slated to undergo a 10-day suspension without pay even after the acquittal. But the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild contested the suspension, leading to further investigation. The City Attorney’s Office did indeed find that Haynes suffered a low-level concussion during the brawl, which may have contributed to his lack of control and ability to understand the situation.

SPD released a statement Tuesday announcing the decision to drop misconduct charges, saying in part “Haynes likely experienced transient confusion which presented him from acting volitionally immediately after the attack.”

To read the SPD’s full statement on the decision, click here.

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  • rah rah rah

    Brilliant. Ranks right up there with “excited delirium” and “sickle cell trait”. Whatever it takes to protect an only-one.

  • Andrew Bush

    Its disgusting how Seattle continues to be held hostage by this proven corrupt police department and their union. The federal investigation ended a year and 8 months ago yet no one can say who has been held accountable. You ask the city council, the mayor the police chief. No one knows. Now look at how this mess and the millions and millions it has cost this city financially and is still costing. We can’t even pay for basic upkeep for our parks. Defrauding an entire city for YEARS is impossible unless every officer keeps their mouths shut. But the we also had a civilian OPA director, 2 Two separate committee’s who all reported to the city council, Safety chair Tim Burgess the former cop and the mayors office. How is it that the feds had to come in and tell us we had no accountability and that all officers pled the 5th in every single case?

    Seattle continues to be held hostage by its police department and their union. And they get a lot of help to do this.

  • Andrew Bush

    People have no idea how Seattle police and KCSO have cost us all and STILL have not been held accountable… They got away with it all WITH retroactive raises.

    service for the poor cut
    no money for pot holes
    no money for bike lanes until someone gets killed
    no more held with dental care for adults
    services for seniors cut
    little help for people with mental disorders
    no money for schools
    not even money to keep up our local parks
    The list goes on and on and on. Lawsuits, settlements, retraining, causing permanent disabilities and questionable arrest records for thousands of people in Seattle EVERY YEAR!
    Again. Who has been held accountable? Because you and especially your family and friends are paying dearly for the fraud and abuses committed by these police departments.

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