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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Appreciating the 5 King County Deputies who tried to the "right thing"


..."Is the jury telling us they didn't believe the five deputies who came forward voluntarily and testified against Bonnar under oath?" Or maybe they're just telling us that this sort of conduct is OK in King County"...
Sheriff's Spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart

I really try to stay with only domestic-related posts but the issue of accountability can't be separated from what this blog is about.

IT IS NO SMALL THING for law enforcement officers to find themselves testifying against "one of their own." But when FIVE of them take that step and are not believed - it helps us to understand why sometimes they might decide to not bother. The Sheriff of King County stands behind these deputies testifying, and I hope the public does too.

To the five: Thank you.

JURY FINDS DEPUTY NOT GUILTY OF VIOLATING SUSPECT'S CIVIL RIGHTS
A federal jury has acquitted a King County sheriff's deputy of violating the civil rights of a woman who was roughed up during a 2005 arrest, but he didn't escape being chastised by the judge who presided over the case.
Seattle Times
By Mike Carter
December 23, 2008
[EXCERPTS] A federal jury has acquitted a King County sheriff's deputy of violating the civil rights of a woman [Irene Damon] who was roughed up during a 2005 arrest, but he didn't escape being chastised by the judge who presided over the case... [U.S. District Judge Thomas] Zilly however, stood in his robes and countered that there had been "SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE BY A NUMBER OF DEPUTY SHERIFFS that this conduct was not appropriate." [Brian]Bonnar was acquitted of a single count of depriving 41-year-old Irene Damon of her civil rights during a violent arrest following a car chase in October 2005. He was also acquitted of four counts of lying to the grand jury that had indicted him... Meantime, the Sheriff's Office lashed out at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office for bringing the case in the first place... [sheriff's spokesman Sgt. John] Urquhart wasn't complaining that Bonnar was wrongly accused, but rather that the case was weak and that the acquittals have sent conflicting and confusing messages. "Is the jury telling us they didn't believe the five deputies who came forward voluntarily and testified [against Bonnar] under oath?" Urquhart asked. "Or maybe they're just telling us that this sort of conduct is OK in King County." Urquhart complained that the deputies who testified against Bonnar were treated "atrociously" by federal prosecutors, particularly by the trial lawyer from the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. "They were treated as suspects. Some of them had to get lawyers," he said. "I can't tell you how difficult it is to come forward in a case like this. What sort of message do you think their treatment sends to law-enforcement officers who want to do the right thing?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Harris disputed Urquhart's assertion and said the deputies who testified "are heroes in my mind... They came forward because it was the right thing to do," he said... [Full article here]

DEPUTY CLEARED ON ALL COUNTS IN CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATION CASE

Seattle Post Intelligencer
By Hector Castro and Levi Pulkkinen
December 23, 2008 10:45 p.m. PT
[EXCERPTS] A King County sheriff's deputy accused of assaulting a handcuffed woman [Irene Damon] was acquitted on all counts against him Tuesday by a federal jury in Seattle... [Deputy Brian J.] Bonnar's co-workers, including other deputies, testified that after Damon calmed down, Bonnar looked around and twice dropped his knee on Damon's face, near her eye. One deputy testified that Bonnar lifted Damon from the ground by grabbing her hair, and later slammed her face against the patrol car. In a statement issued Tuesday, Sheriff Sue Rahr stood by the officers who came forward to testify against him, and her office's initial decision to issue Bonnar a 20-day suspension... "What happened here was not what we expect of our law enforcement officers," [U.S. District Judge Thomas] Zilly said. "There was a substantial amount of evidence that (Bonnar) did not meet the standard for law enforcement in our communit"... [Full article here]

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