A man is dead and a Seattle police officer has been suspended from his job after lying about the severity of a car accident involving the deceased. A police watchdog found that the officer used a common ruse to try to get more information about a hit-and-run so the suspect would come forward. Instead, the suspect in the case committed suicide, and both the Seattle Police Department and the police watchdog agree the officer was partly to blame.
A Minor Crash
In late May 2018, a man was in a fender bender in which no one was injured. He left the scene, and two Seattle police officers were put in charge of investigating the accident. They visited the address on file for the driver to get a statement, fully knowing this was a minor accident with no injuries.
When they got to the house, a woman answered the door, and the officers decided to stretch the truth about the accident in hopes that she would relay the information to the driver. Instead of simply telling her there had been a fender bender, they claimed the man they were looking for had caused a hit-and-run that led to someone being in critical condition—information that visibly upset the woman. She then called the driver, told him what the police had said, and recommended he hire a lawyer.
Extreme Worry Leads to Suicide
Once the man heard the police were looking for him due to an accident involving a critical injury, he became extremely anxious. His roommate told police the man had been talking about suicide after hearing about the person in critical condition. His friends corroborated that, saying he was, “despondent about the fact that he may have killed someone.”
On June 3, 2018, his roommate found the man dead. That was less than a week after the accident. His friends and family realized the visit from the police had something to do with their loved one's unexpected death. Once they began to look into the crash—and realized no one had been hurt at all—they contacted the Office of Police Accountability to start an investigation.
Police Officer Suspended
After looking into the case—including watching body cam footage—the Office of Police Accountability found that the officer who lied contributed to the man's suicide. The Chief of Police at the Seattle Police Department, Carmen Best, also looked into the case and agreed with the watchdog.
She mentioned that while using such a ruse is technically allowed, this officer did not use it appropriately or in line with the department's policy. As a result, the officer was suspended without pay for six days.
Traffic Defense Attorney Steve Karimi
Police are constitutionally permitted to distort the truth in many different ways during the course of a criminal investigation. These tactics often leave room for a skilled defense attorney to fight charges. If you or a loved one have been treated as poorly as this man by police, you deserve legal guidance from the Law Offices of Steve Karimi. Call 206-621-8777 today or fill out an online form for a free consultation.