Lawsuit Says SPD "Conceals" Videos Showing Misconduct

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee October 5, 2011

The Seattle Police Department is facing yet another lawsuit over its policies on releasing videos taken by patrol officers.

A lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court Wednesday by two men arrested after an "urban golf" event on Capitol Hill in 2008, says the department suppresses in-car videos to protect officers.

In October 2008, Seattle police arrested Eric Rachner and David Hulton during an "urban golf" bar crawl on Capitol Hill, after someone hit a bystander with a foam golf ball. Rachner was arrested for obstruction after he refused to give an an officer his name. Police arrested Hulton for the alleged golf ball assault. Charges against both men were later dropped.

Following the incident, Rachner attempted to acquire video of the incident from the Seattle Police Department, and later won a settlement when police failed to turn the videos over.

Rachner became a bit of a crusader, researching holes in the department's video retention system—including the loss of "some 14,221 videos," the lawsuit says—and now, as part of the lawsuit, is accusing SPD of instituting "a policy and custom of ensuring its existing in-car video system is not used to show officer misconduct.

The lawsuit also claims the department's internal investigation unit, the Office of Professional Accountability, "allows misconduct through wrongful exonerations" of officers.

Rachner and Hulton are asking for unspecified damages, and to have the department expunge their arrest records.

SPD is already facing another lawsuit from KOMO television over their policies on releasing patrol car camera videos.


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