King County Sheriff John Urquhart this month demoted a sergeant against whom 120 allegations of misconduct have been lodged during his career on the force. It is the first time Urquhart has demoted an officer since his election in November.
Despite a long record of warnings and counseling, Sgt. Patrick Saulet had racked up more complaints in his time on the force than any other King County officer, according to a demotion letter from Urquhart obtained by The Stranger.
The latest complaint, from an incident in December, alleged that Saulet harassed a family that had made a wrong turn into an area reserved for Metro transit vehicles, which, Urquhart noted, is “apparently frequent occurrence.”
The driver, Louis Landry, said he had been led into the restricted area accidentally by his GPS. Urquhart’s letter said Landry complained that when Saulet arrived on the scene he “made a spectacle of everything,” threatened to arrest the family and told Landry that he needed to “man up.”
Landry said Saulet also told him and his wife that he could “take away your daughter,” who was sitting in the back seat, and he even referenced the couple’s unborn child — Landry’s wife was pregnant, the letter said.
Saulet denied acting out-of-line, Urquhart said in the letter, but the Landry family’s account was more convincing than the sergeant’s denial, he added. Urquhart called Saulet’s actions “discourteous and demeaning” and said they “escalated or threatened to escalate a situation for no apparent reason.”
Urquhart cited instances in 2001, 2003 and 2011 when Saulet’s many complaints came under review, each resulting in counseling recommendations. He had been demoted previously, in 2008, but a police-union appeal restored him to his rank on the grounds that the investigation lacked evidence against him.
An appeal is likely in this instance as well, Urquhart told The Stranger.
“My assumption is that they will, [but] I don’t speak for the guild,” he said.
Until that time, Saulet has been demoted to deputy and removed from Metro transit duty. He now patrols in northeast King County, where he responds to 911 calls, The Stranger reported.
Urquhart’s letter warned that further misconduct would not be tolerated and “depending on the circumstances, could result in termination.”