A former police officer whose history of using excessive force, twice got his police department sued, pleaded guilty this month to violating the rights of an injured suspect by pepper spraying him while he was handcuffed to a hospital gurney. Under the plea agreement, Nicholas Hogan will be prohibited from working as police officer or security guard for 15 years and he cannot have a job that requires him to carry a gun.
In 2011, while working for the Tukwila Police Department in Washington state, Hogan was dispatched to the scene of a fight. He arrested the injured suspect for a misdemeanor. Hogan drove the suspect to the hospital and while still in the parking lot, kneed him in the head. Once in the emergency room, Hogan repeatedly shoved the suspect until he fell. While the man was shackled to a gurney, Hogan pepper sprayed him.
Hogan pleaded guilty to a single count of deprivation of rights under color of law, a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $100,000 or both. He also must pay restitution to the victim. Had Hogan not accepted the plea, he would have been charged with a felony. If convicted, he would have faced up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $250,000 or both.
Hogan had a history of using excessive force while working for the Tukwila Police Department. In a separate incident in 2011, Hogan and other officers were accused of attacking a suspect who later was awarded $175,000 in a civil lawsuit against the city. In that incident, the man was having a gathering at his home. Officers were dispatched to the neighborhood in response to a call about gunfire. According to the civil rights lawsuit, Hogan and other officers launched an unprovoked attack against the man, Tasing him twice and pepper-spraying him. One of the officers stomped on the man, breaking his ankle. The officers made the man walk to the police car on his broken ankle, then drove him to the jail instead of the hospital. Because the man was so severely injured the jail refused to admit him and the officers were forced to drive him to the hospital.
In 2013, the city of Tukwila paid $100,000 to another man after Hogan broke his arm during an arrest and then tried to cover it up. All total, Hogan's actions cost the city more than $425,000 in out-of-court settlements and fees pertaining to the civil-rights lawsuits.
“A string of questionable use-of-force incidents, usually against people of color,” finally led the Tukwila Police Department to fire Hogan. Despite the civil lawsuits and a 2011 grand jury indictment against him, Hogan was hired by the Snoqualmie Police Department in 2012. Knowing his history, Snoqualmie city officials still considered Hogan an “exemplary officer” until earlier this year when he was suspended for a month for having an affair with the wife of a fellow officer. During the investigation, 19 of 21 other officers complained that Hogan was “heavy-handed and abrasive” when dealing with colleagues and members of the public. Eventually he was fired from Snoqualmie too.
Regardless of your occupation or the circumstances of your arrest, if you are facing criminal charges in Washington state, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.