Police identify Seattle officer dead amid drug case as Issaquah resident
January 5, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 6 p.m. Jan. 5, 2012
Officials said a Seattle police officer arrested in a drug investigation early Thursday morning died at a Seattle hospital hours later after sustaining a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Seattle police said the officer, a 50-year-old Issaquah man, had been suspected of using crack cocaine — possibly drugs stolen from case evidence. The man died at Harborview Medical Center late Thursday afternoon.
Police booked the officer into the King County Jail just after 4 a.m. and released on him on personal recognizance about 30 minutes later — a normal procedure for first-time drug offenders in King County.
Then, at about 11 a.m., as Seattle Police Chief John Diaz prepared to address journalists about the drug case, Eastside Fire & Rescue crews responded to a report of a man suffering from a gunshot wound near a North Bend-area trailhead.
Crews responded to the John Wayne Pioneer Trail and rushed the man to Seattle for treatment.
Seattle police officials said the dead officer left behind a wife and two teenage children. He joined the force in September 1990 and spent his entire career serving as a patrol officer in South Seattle.
In July 2011, South Precinct patrol officers alerted supervisors to concerns about the officer’s handling of drug evidence. The report, in turn, triggered a department-led internal criminal investigation. In addition, a community member expressed nonspecific concerns regarding the officer and implied he had been involved in misconduct.
Then, on Wednesday, Seattle police enlisted an undercover officer from another law enforcement agency to determine if the officer under investigation handled evidence properly.
The officer took custody of drugs during the course of his shift. Typically, taking custody should result in a found narcotics report and placing the drugs into evidence. Investigators waited for the officer to complete his shift and then checked to see if the drugs had been properly submitted. Police realized the drugs had not been properly submitted.
Police conducted a traffic stop on the officer as he drove home and arrested him. During a search, officers discovered that he had concealed drugs on his body. Police arrested him, relieved him of duty, and seized his gun and badge.
Commanders spoke to the officer in person and offered a number of referral options for counseling. The agency also said he did not receive more lenient or severe treatment due to his status as a police officer.