A Seattle police officer is accused of contributing to a man’s suicide via a scheme to get him to turn himself in. The man was wanted for misdemeanor hit-and-run. As part of the ruse, the officer allegedly lied about the severity of the man’s crime, The Seattle Times reports.
At some point before June 2018, the unidentified suspect was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run. The accident involved multiple vehicles, but fortunately no one was injured. The suspect allegedly drove away from the scene of the accident, but since no one was injured, his alleged hit-and-run would have been a misdemeanor.
At some point after the collision, two Seattle officers, who weren’t involved in the original accident, which took place in a completely different precinct, were sent to an address associated with the suspect in order to bring him in. On the way there, a police watchdog group found, one of the officers decided to play a game with the suspect.
“It’s a lie, but it’s fun,” the officer allegedly said.
Speaking to a woman who answered the door at the address, the officers were told that the suspect had used the address to register his vehicle, but didn’t live there. While the woman was looking through her phone to find the suspect’s phone number, one of the officers allegedly told her that one of the “victims” in the crash was in critical condition, and that she “might not survive.”
Congrats to the SPD Photo Unit for winning the DOJ, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services “Community Policing in Action” photo contest. Over 100 agencies took part this year and our picture of Detective Cookie's Chess Club won. H/T to @SeattlePF for funding this project. pic.twitter.com/BQKRAM9zZY
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) January 8, 2020
The woman was clearly upset at this revelation. She was eventually able to track down the suspect and advised him to get a lawyer.
At first, the suspect wasn’t particularly concerned, as he reportedly didn’t believe that anyone had been injured in the accident. However, the man had reportedly struggled with substance abuse issues and had his own run-ins with the law. He supposedly began to fixate on what he had purportedly done.
He reportedly became “despondent” over the belief that he had actually hurt someone, and he eventually took his own life.
The Police Department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) eventually got wind of the series of events and investigated.
In its final report, the watchdog group concluded that the officer’s actions “shocked the conscience.”
The Seattle P.D. apparently agreed: The unnamed officer was suspended for six days without pay.
“The officer’s actions did not meet SPD’s standards of acceptable use of discretion and were not consistent with the standards of professionalism or training,” the department said in a statement.
The department has also trained all of its officers on the appropriate use of using falsehoods to collect information or track suspects.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.