Seattle police chief yanks ‘golf club’ patrol officer off the street after troubling Facebook comments
SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, saying she was “shocked and disappointed,” on Thursday pulled a female police patrol officer off the street and ordered investigations after discovering she had allegedly written allegedly racist comments on Facebook.
The same officer, Cynthia Whitlatch, came under scrutiny when she arrested a 70-year-old black man last summer when he refused to put down a golf club he was holding on a street corner.
The department apologized to William Wingate Tuesday and gave his golf club back. But Wingate is threatening to sue the city after he was thrown in jail for a night after the arrest.
It was most recently reported that Whitlatch allegedly had written comments about black people on her Facebook post.
The weekly newspaper The Stranger reported that Whitlatch wrote dismissively on Facebook of the notion black men are disproportionately targeted by police, referring to it as “black peoples paranoia that white people are out to get them.”
The post begins: “If you believe that blacks are NOT accusing white America for their problems then you are missing the point of the riots in Ferguson and the chronic black racism that far exceeds any white racism in this country.”
It goes on later to say, “I am tired of black people saying poor poor me when other races and genders and homeless and gays suffer far more prejudice than any black man does in the US,” the post said.
Chief O’Toole wrote on the SPD Blotter Thursday: “Until yesterday I was unaware of Officer Whitlatch’s Facebook posts. I was shocked and disappointed to read her comments. We are working to reform the Seattle Police Department, and behavior of this nature seriously undermines our efforts.
“Today, I have taken these immediate steps:
- I have ordered a comprehensive review of the cases involving this officer
- I have transferred the officer to an administrative assignment, pending the outcome of the investigations, where she will have no interaction with the public.
- I have communicated with Office of Professional Accountability Director Pierce Murphy, who is launching an independent investigation.”
Late Thursday afternoon, Mayor Ed Murray said, “While I support the Chief’s decision yesterday (Wednesday) to call for a more comprehensive review of the overall conduct and performance of the officer involved – considering there were two incidents with this officer in the same summer – there appear to be lapses in our protocols.
“I’ve directed the Chief to look not just at the officer’s conduct, but all the circumstances and decisions related to these incidences. We must do more to reform our system to restore the public’s trust in our police department so that everyone feels safe in our communities.
“After meeting with the Chief this morning, we agreed she will conduct a comprehensive management investigation and transfer the officer to non-patrol duties for the time being.”
Meanwhile, video of her arrest of the black man holding a golf club last summer was published this week on the SPD Blotter and is below.
In the police report for this July 9, 2014, incident, Whitlatch stated she had witnessed the man swing a golf club toward her, striking a stop sign as she drove past him near 11th Avenue and E. Pike Street. There was no video evidence to support that.
Whitlatch then contacted the man and ordered him to surrender his golf club. The man refused and was arrested and booked into the King County Jail for obstruction and harassment.
Here is the video: