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Murray Reinstates Misconduct Finding For Embattled Seattle Police Officer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says it was wrong to change penalties against a police officer who threatened to harass a journalist. The comments mark an about-face for the mayor. 

In July, Dominic Holden of The Stranger was taking pictures as officers questioned a man in the International District. He says Officer John Marion got angry with him and threatened to come to The Stranger’s offices and “bother” Holden while he was at work.

The department’s Office of Professional Accountability said Marion was unprofessional, and recommended a one-day suspension and a finding of misconduct on his record.

But on Thursday, interim Chief Harry Bailey threw out the penalties and ordered more training instead. Murray initially stood by that decision. But he now says that was a mistake and that the misconduct finding should stand. Marion still avoids suspension.

“This should be concerning to people," Holden said, "because it suggests that public opinion and politics are playing the largest role in disciplining officer misconduct, instead of the rules and values that we expect them to.”

Murray emphasized in a statement that he has faith in Bailey, and that he agrees with using education and training to address problems. But he said the city’s method to deal with the Marion case failed, and looked like “the opposite of reform.”

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.