In the end, the accounts provided by two unnamed Seattle police officers who attended the Capitol riot on Jan. 6 were “simply not credible,” the Seattle Police Department’s oversight office reported Thursday, recommending that the pair be fired for their actions that day.
The conclusion from the Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA), an internal oversight body, came after months of investigation into six officers identified as being present at Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally in D.C. Four of the officers either did not attend the riot that followed, or in one case, may have attended it but did not leave an evidence trail sufficient to place them at the scene, the office’s closed case summary stated.
“Named Employee” 1 and 2, on the other hand, were caught in the act: Video stills from that day provided to the oversight investigators by the FBI “showed NE#1 and NE#2 directly next to the side of U.S. Capitol Building,” the report stated.
In those stills, demonstrators were visible on the steps of the building, as well as on the scaffolding surrounding it, the report said. The video even captured the pair of officers — a married couple, The Seattle Times reported — hearing first-hand about another individual contemplating getting involved.
“The individual turned to NE#1 and NE#2 and asked: ‘Well fuck, doing it?’” the report stated, seemingly referring to joining the siege of the Capitol. “The individual then turned to again face the building and a male off camera said: ‘Thinking about it.’”
The full video, the report noted, was not available because its source was an individual “pending criminal prosecution.”
But NE#1 and NE#2 denied everything: According to the report, they said they saw nothing to indicate they were trespassing on Capitol grounds at the time, though they were in a restricted area. And they both said they did not witness criminal acts.
The evidence collected by the OPA said… otherwise.
“OPA’s investigation, and particularly the review of video and interviews of Washington, D.C. law enforcement personnel, indicates that the accounts provided by NE#1 and NE#2 are simply not credible,” the report stated.
“The video showed that there was an active insurrection ongoing at the same time that NE#1 and NE#2 were in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol Building,” it continued. “This included rioters assaulting law enforcement officers and making forced entries into the building. Moreover, the testimony of the law enforcement officers interviewed by OPA and who were present on that day, belied the officers’ recitation of events. The officers said that anyone in that vicinity would have been aware of the violence and chaos that was ongoing.”
Later, the report said that investigators found it “unbelievable” that the two officers could think the behavior of rioters all around them was not illegal — contrary to the claims they made in interviews. The report described their conduct as “egregious.”
“While they smiled and looked at the Capitol Building, as captured by the video stills, rioters defiled the seat of American democracy and assaulted numerous fellow officers,” the report stated. “That they, as SPD officers, were direct witnesses to the acts that were going on around them, including the scaling of the Capitol Building walls, but did and said nothing, compounds this.”
The officers’ fate now lies with Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who’s said he will make a decision on potential disciplinary action, including potential termination, within 30 days.
Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) hadn’t commented on the report or its recommendations as of Friday, but the report noted some earlier pushback from the guild. SPOG, it said, had tried to convince the police chief to decline to allow OPA to issue the order to collect evidence from the officers, such as receipts, flight and hotel records, text messages, photographs, and bank records.
A report from the local publication Crosscut sheds light on the dispute: In late May, SPOG filed a grievance against the city, alleging that the order for the officers to provide these materials was unlawful and was issued “due to the named SPOG members’ political ideology and political activities.”
After SPOG made their objection, the report said, five of six employees produced the documents investigators requested. The lone hold-out was subsequently named in a new case — “for insubordination and failure to cooperate with an OPA investigation.”
“OPA disagrees with SPOG’s position and believes the requests to have been lawful,” Thursday’s report said.