King County NAACP President James Bible is calling for the resignation of Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske and the dismissal of two Seattle police officers following an investigation exonerating the officers of abusing and planting evidence on a suspected drug dealer.
"We are concerned that the Office of Professional Accountability and it's exoneration of these officers at the hand of the chief is an empty, hollow and weak system which doesn't afford anyone justice in this city," Bible said.
NAACP leaders held a press conference last week at Seattle City Hall to highlight a report by Grant Fredericks, a former police officer and FBI lecturer on video surveillance, which says the officers' statements aren't backed up by a video surveillance tape of the Jan. 2 arrest of George "Troy" Patterson outside a Belltown drugstore.
Patterson, who is wheelchair-bound, has claimed that the two arresting officers, Greg Neubert and Mike Tietjens, planted drugs on him and used excessive force, choking him and twisting his arm.
The Seattle Police Department's Office of Police Accountability investigated the claim and later cleared the officers of any abuse or misconduct.
But Fredericks, who reviewed the videotape after being hired by The Defender Association, said the two officers weren't truthful in their report.
"The images are inconsistent with the statement that they (the officers) left their 'observation point' to pursue Patterson, locating him one minute after they arrived," Fredericks said.
The officers claimed in their report that they found crumbs of crack cocaine on the suspect's lap but the tape doesn't show the officers paying any attention to Patterson's lap or finding anything on it.
What the tape does show, according to Fredericks, is Neubert putting "a clamp hold" on Patterson's neck and Tietjen twisting the suspect's arm and holding him in a "wrist lock" for more than three minutes.
"As a result (of Fredericks' analysis) we will be demanding that City Council address how the Office of Professional Accountability can get this so wrong; and how OPA can ignore its basic tenet to ensure that the people of this city's civil and constitutional rights are protected," Bible said.
"We are under the impression that the new head of OPA is guided by the hand of the chief of police, as this is her initial findings in exonerating officers in the face of such great evidence that the people cannot expect justice from the Office of Professional Accountability," Bible said.
In addition to the NAACP, members from the American Friends Services Committee, People's Coalition for Justice and Village of Hope gathered at last week's press conference to make demands against the Seattle Police Department.
Bible said the NAACP wants the FBI's civil rights division to open an investigation into this case and that Mayor Greg Nickels should reorganize the internal investigations unit. Bible questions whether the police chief will hold his officers accountable and wants to ensure the human rights of everyone in the city.
"This is not a small issue, it affects everyone in the city," Bible said.
Bible said Friday that King County Judge Catherine Shaffer is questioning the accuracy of the arrest reports written by the two officers. The judge called the videotape expert's report "credible" and said she found a number of discrepancies and found it concerning.
An internal investigation detective also found that Neubert had appeared "intentionally" vague and said the officers' recollection of the arrest is questionable.