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February 24, 2014 at 8:28 AM

SPD officer’s misconduct finding to be reinstated

Corrected version

Seattle Police Department interim chief Harry Bailey, seen during a news conference, said a misconduct finding against an officer will be reinstated on Monday.  In the background is Bernard Melekian, strategic adviser on police matters to the Seattle mayor's office. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Police Department interim chief Harry Bailey, seen during a news conference, said a misconduct finding against an officer will be reinstated on Monday. In the background is Bernard Melekian, strategic adviser on police matters to the Seattle mayor’s office. (Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

A Seattle police officer — whose one-day suspension for threatening to harass a journalist was lifted last week by interim Police Chief Harry Bailey — has agreed to have a misconduct finding reinstated.

Bailey unleashed a torrent of questions and controversy when he reduced the suspension to a referral for additional training, which removed the misconduct finding from the record of Officer John Marion.

The misconduct finding is the result of a July confrontation with the news editor of The Stranger.

Marion’s decision to accept the misconduct finding was announced this morning by Bailey at a news briefing. What wasn’t immediately clear is whether it was Marion’s idea or because Bailey had a change of heart.

A law-enforcement source said the decision to accept the misconduct finding was Marion’s idea because he was tired of the media attention. The source said Marion acknowledges he could have handled the incident in a better way and wants to put it behind him.

In addition, the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) said in a statement that Marion agreed to accept the finding after consulting with union President Rich O’Neill and incoming President Ron Smith.

However, in a statement released this morning, Mayor Ed Murray said he directed Bailey to reinstate the misconduct finding.

“After hearing the public’s concerns about Chief Bailey’s decision to change the discipline in the Marion case, I have directed Chief Bailey to reinstate the original finding,” Murray said in the statement.

Murray said the decision to change the discipline was Bailey’s call.

“But I stood with the Chief and publicly supported that decision,” Murray said. “And I am Mayor: the buck stops with me. So, this mistake was mine.  And today I am fixing that mistake.”

Smith, incoming SPOG president, praised Marion for accepting the punishment.

“I commend Officer Marion for taking responsibility for his interaction with Mr. Holden, which he obviously wishes he would have handled differently. I now hope all parties can now move on,” said Smith.

The reinstatement comes three days after Murray defended Bailey’s reversal of a one-day suspension stemming from the misconduct finding, saying training was a better way of dealing with the conduct.

Bailey said this morning that over the weekend he had some personal reflections and then talked to the mayor about the earlier decisions. He said there was a decision to change what was said and he regrets any confusion over the matter. “I apologize for that,” he said.

Bailey also has reversed six other misconduct findings that were subject to appeals.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Marion had agreed to have a one-day suspension reinstated. He has agreed to the reinstatement of the misconduct finding.

Comments | More in General news, Government, The Blotter | Topics: Ed Murray, Harry Bailey, Seattle Police Department

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