When a Seattle police officer kicked the legs out from under a woman, fracturing her cheekbone as she fell face-first onto the pavement, the captain in charge of internal investigations recommended discipline. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the department rejected the recommendation, calling for “supervisory intervention,” a kind of retraining not considered disciplinary action. Six months later, witnesses said the same cop kicked a suspect in the face as the man was trying to surrender. Once again, he was given retraining.
The Seattle Police Department hasn’t disciplined any officers for unnecessary force in the past 18 months, during a time when it ruled on at least 161 force cases. During that same period, 12 other excessive-force complaints resulted in supervisory intervention with officers. “They are more likely to sustain (charges against an officer for) lower-level kinds of issues, rather than force issues,” said Barbara Attard, the independent police auditor for San Jose, Ca., and past president of the National Association of Civilian Oversight. “I think that force cases have bigger implications for the department.  Every effort’s made to show there was some reason for the force.”