Morning Fizz

O'Toole Faces Questions Over Pepper Spray Incident

O'Toole criticized by police accountability activists, Inslee stuck in traffic, and Seattle's soul featured in New York Times.

By Josh Feit October 8, 2015

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1. File this under perfect: Governor Jay Inslee missed this morning's Washington Conservation Voters breakfast at the Westin—due to traffic.

Inslee was a featured speaker at the environmental group's annual event.

2. Sorry, y’all. But developer lobbyist Roger Valdez gets the last word in today’s New York Times feature story about Seattle’s tech boom/housing crunch/fight for its soul.

(Valdez is also the only nonwhite person they quote from Seattle.)

3. Seattle police chief Kathleen O’Toole is facing questions about her decision (and her failure to inform city council about it) to reverse the disciplinary action recommended by the city’s police oversight arm, the Office of Professional Accountability.

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The OPA had recommended that SPD officer Sandra Delafuente be suspended for a day without pay; Delafuente infamously pepper sprayed Garfield High School teacher and anti–standardized testing activist Jesse Hagopian at a Black Lives Matter protest earlier this year.

Viral video of the MLK Day Black Lives Matter protest shows Hagopian talking on his cell phone when Delafuente goes on the attack for no reason. O’Toole opted to assign Delafuente to a retraining instead of the unpaid suspension.

Adding serious weight to this morning’s press conference where activist council member Kshama Sawant and activist teacher Hagopian  criticized O’Toole, police accountability expert and Community Police Commission leader, public defender Lisa Daugaard, signed off on the protest, adding her name to the list of critics. Daugaard has worked closely with mayor Ed Murray on legislation to strengthen the OPA.

The mayor’s office did not respond to our question about O’Toole’s decision.

Hagopian said in a statement: “I was lucky—not because I was arbitrarily assaulted by a Seattle police officer, but because of the video. We all know the truth of what was done to me. But if they can downgrade the punishment of the officer who assaulted me, even with the definitive video evidence of wrongdoing, then what kind of accountability exists in the Seattle Police Department?  I’m left with so many questions about the way my case was handled.”

4. Be sure to read Josh K.'s story yesterday about the District Five (North Seattle) race between Sandy Brown and Debora Juarez. Point of contention: Sidewalks, obviously.

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