The Seattle Police Department has revised its version of a Aug. 2 incident in which a 19-year department veteran allegedly used excessive force and acted unprofessionally during a pellet-gun shooting investigation in South Seattle.
The incident involved Officer Clayton Powell, 51, who was allegedly baited into a physical confrontation by a man who allegedly spit in the officer’s face and was later arrested. Powell and other officers had responded to the area on a report of a drive-by shooting involving a pellet gun.
The department initially reported that other officers who witnessed the incident “promptly reported” it to their supervisor, who in turn notified department commanders. That turned out not to be exactly true, according to a corrected Seattle Police Blotter item.
It turns out that no other officer reported the incident, and the sergeant who screened the arrest only learned of it when he asked Powell’s partner what had happened as part of a routine arrest screening. Assistant Chief Jim Pugel today said Powell’s partner told the sergeant to ask Powell, and when he did Powell explained what had happened.
Powell has been placed on administrative re-assignment pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Pugel said Powell is also facing a criminal investigation over the incident.
Pugel said other officers have since confirmed the incident during the criminal investigation.
The incident occurred just days after the police department and the Department of Justice signed a landmark settlement agreement in U.S. District Court intended to address a pattern of unconstitutional use-of-force within the department, which the DOJ found was due partly to a lack of adequate training and supervision of officers.