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Fire two Seattle police officers, accountability group says after D.C. riot investigation

Protesters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Two Seattle police officers who were there were illegally trespassing on Capitol grounds, but lied about their actions, a police watchdog said in a report released Thursday.
John Minchillo
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The Associated Press file
Protesters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Two Seattle police officers who were there were illegally trespassing on Capitol grounds, but lied about their actions, a police watchdog said in a report released Thursday.

The Office of Police Accountability is recommending the firing of two Seattle police officers for their involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.  

In total, six Seattle police officers attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C., the largest known contingency of officers to attend the rally in the country. 

The Office of Police Accountability, or OPA, concluded that three officers did not violate department policy or engage in illegal activity while attending the rally but exercised their First Amendment rights. OPA said it could not determine whether one officer had violated any policies or laws. 

The police accountability group said it reviewed video footage, photographs, cellphones, emails, documents, such as bank records and receipts from hotels and flights, and interviews to arrive at its conclusions. 

The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild sought to stymie the investigation, arguing that OPA was asking officers to provide private information due to their political ideology. One officer’s refusal to provide any information led to the opening of a separate case for insubordination.  

OPA did not name the officers it investigated and said any disciplinary action would have to come from Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz. The Seattle Times identified the two officers who participated in the insurrection as a married couple: Alexander Everett and Caitlin Rochelle. The news outlet Crosscut previously named one other officer at the rally: Jason Marchione.

 

A King County Superior Court judge has denied a request by the six D.C. attendees to block the disclosure of their names to the public.

In a statement on Thursday, Police Chief Diaz said he "will hold accountable any SPD officer involved in the insurrection, including disciplinary action up to and including termination." Diaz said he intended to take any disciplinary action within the next 30 days.   

According to the OPA, the FBI provided still photographs taken from a video that showed two Seattle police officers directly next to the Capitol building. 

“From the vantage point of the photographs, demonstrators were on the steps of the building, as well as climbing the scaffolding, and numerous demonstrators were surrounding the building,” the report reads. 

At one point, one person in the video turns to the Seattle police officers and asks: “Well, fuck, doing it?” One male voice off camera can then be heard saying, “Thinking about it.”

Although the police officers claimed they did not know they were not allowed to be in the area or witness anyone breaking any laws, OPA called the officers’ claims “simply not credible.”  

“They were both standing in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol building in direct view of rioters lining the steps and climbing the walls. OPA finds it unbelievable that they could think that this behavior was not illegal,” the report reads.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that this case has done more damage to the perception of SPD by the community than any other case in my time at OPA,” writes the author of the report, OPA director Andrew Myerberg.

The OPA report makes clear the damage done by the insurrection: Several demonstrators died.

In addition, one police officer died, and at least “140 other officers were physically harmed in the attack, suffering injuries including bruises, lacerations, concussions, loss of a fingertip, rib fractures, and a mild heart attack.”

Two police officers later died by suicide, and dozens later tested positive for the coronavrius.   

Dozens of police officers in other states have been under investigation for their involvement in the insurrection. 

Updated with statement from SPD and names of two officers.

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