Seattle police officer Cynthia Whitlatch was fired yesterday over her arrest of an African-American man carrying a golf club as a cane, in what Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole labeled a case of biased and overly aggressive policing, reports the Seattle Times. The closely watched decision stemmed from Whitlatch's arrest last year of William Wingate, then 69, whom she accused of swinging the club as a weapon. O'Toole affirmed findings by the police Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) that Whitlatch violated department policies on bias, discretion and de-escalating confrontations.
Whitlatch, 48, insisted she acted properly and portrayed herself as the victim of discrimination because she is white. O'Toole cited Whitlatch's defiance, noting that even in hindsight, Whitlatch had failed to recognize her misconduct and the damage it had done to community trust. “Without this ability to learn from your mistakes, understand how you can improve and do better, and recognize your own errors, you are unable to effectively function as an officer,” O'Toole wrote. O'Toole said Whitlatch's response dissuaded her from considering Whitlatch for a lengthy suspension, disciplinary transfer to a unit that doesn't interact with the public and removal from the sergeant's promotional registry.