Another Lying Cop Gets Busted

And here we have example #5,927,834 of a police officer lying in a police report. A cop in Seattle arrested an elderly black man using a golf club as a crutch while walking down the street. She claimed that he was swinging the club at her, but the dashcam video showed nothing of the sort.

A white Seattle officer should be fired for biased and improper policing after she arrested an elderly black man using a golf club as a cane during a walk last summer, the director of a police watchdog group said on Tuesday.

The Office of Professional Accountability found Seattle patrol officer Cynthia Whitlatch engaged in biased policing, among other policy violations, when she arrested William Wingate, now 70, last July, the group’s civilian director Pierce Murphy said.

“After careful review and consideration of all the evidence, I recommended that the Chief of Police sustain the allegations and end the involved officer’s employment,” said Murphy…

Wingate, a military veteran who requires a cane to walk, was using the golf club as a crutch, according to court papers. His arrest sparked protests. Charges against Wingate were dropped after his arrest and the police department has apologized.

The lawsuit says Whitlatch lied when she alleged he swung the golf club at her. Nowhere in a roughly seven-minute police dashboard camera video can he be seen swinging the club.

A police officer familiar with the ongoing investigation declined to discuss the matter in detail but said Whitlatch was notified on Monday she faces possible termination.

What are the odds that the officer would even have taken a second glance at an old white man using a golf club to help him walk? Slim to none, and slim just left. The more cases we see of video footage proving that cops lied on police reports, the more obvious it becomes that the deference juries and the public give to testimony from police officers is entirely unwarranted.

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  • StevoR

    Thank fuck for the cameras now being used to show the facts. make ’em compulsory for all cops – dashcams & on-cop cams and hopefully maybe we’ll soon* have an end to the problem or at least the worst cases?

    * At least in some aspects, at the least the worst cases and for a certain value of soon I guess, yeah?

  • alanb

    From The Seattle Times:

    Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild confirmed the notification and pending meeting with the chief.

    He sharply criticized the findings and termination recommendation, saying he has lost confidence in the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), which conducted the internal investigation.

    He vowed to appeal if O’Toole upholds the recommendation, asserting the department was throwing “spaghetti noodles against the wall to see how many will stick.”

    […]

    Smith, in his comments Monday, said there is no evidence showing that Wingate did not swing the club.

    Another story that just came out about Officer Whitlatch:

    Now testimony is available from a nurse at Swedish Medical Center who says Whitlatch came in with a DUI suspect and demanded a blood draw on the spot.

    “(Whitlatch) says, ‘No, you draw it right now or I’m going to arrest you,'” according to Belinda Phillips, a charge nurse.

    And an ex-girlfriend has said that during their relationship, “Whitlatch made racist comments about black people she’d encountered while on patrol in Seattle and, in the spring of 2005, stole marijuana from SPD evidence that the couple then smoked together.”

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Nowhere in a roughly seven-minute police dashboard camera video can he be seen swinging the club.

    Wow. He’s fast. Like, Bruce Lee fast.

  • davroslives

    I had been thinking, “there’s no way the Police Union will embarrass themselves on this” buuuuut…

    “there is no evidence showing that Wingate did not swing the club”. I have watched the video about a 6 times, and there is absolutely nothing to it. She drove up on him without any provocation, and started harassing him. I just…. what? Better to keep your mouth shut than say something as idiotic (and terrifying, coming from law enforcement) as that.

  • Synfandel

    She claimed, when she called in the incident, that he was swinging the golf club at her as she turned the corner. The video clearly shows that the club was resting on the ground from the time she approached him until twenty seconds later when she had already stopped the car and asked him to put the club down several times. At no time, in the entire 20 minute video, is the club ever held any way other than loosely and downward. Open and shut case of harassment and false arrest.

  • alanb

    One story is that Wingate was swinging the golf club at a stop sign and that Whitlatch then circled to block to come back to him. That may be the swing that the SPOG is referring to when they say, “there is no evidence showing that Wingate did not swing the club.” I have been unable to find out what “swinging at a stop sign” means. Was he trying to destroy property? Was he showing signs of being on a mentally unhinged rampage? One would think that something like that would be a part of the record if it were so.

  • felicis

    Should I ever get to serve on a jury, it’s things like this (including personal experience) that will keep me from giving officer testimony any weight whatsoever. Officers lie. They lie directly and they lie in collusion with other officers to cover their own misconduct. They lie so pervasively, I am surprised anyone gives them any credence on the stand at all.

  • Steve Morrison

    Yesterday here in Cincinnati, a bodycam video got a cop arrested for murder for shooting a man during a traffic stop. (I’m sure you can all guess the victim’s race.)

  • Artor

    Like Felicis says, should I find myself on a jury considering police testimony, I’ll demand to see evidence from a body cam or dash cam before I believe one word of a cops testimony, and I’ll explain to my fellow jurors why they should start from a position of skepticism too. The cops in my town have sheltered rapists in their ranks, they have trumped up false drug charges against friends of mine in attempts to seize their property, and one even pulled my ex over on her way home, lights flashing, to ask her for a date! They cannot be trusted even the slightest bit.

  • Georgia Sam

    A couple of things: (1) “no evidence that Wingate did not swing the club”?!?! How does that make sense as a defense of the arrest? How does it make sense at all? Is the burden of proof supposed to be on the person arrested? (2) I suspect that some cops have watched too many movies & TV shows where police violation of suspects’ rights is presented as OK if it results in getting an offender off the streets (Dirty Harry, I’m looking at you), and have taken that as a model for their own behavior. I also suspect that some police departments put too much emphasis on controlling the situation & not enough on defusing the situation. That may be partly a training issue & partly a culture/philosophy issue.

  • Die Anyway

    At first I thought “why the hell is she even stopping him?”. But I checked around on the internet and apparently there are areas where it is illegal to carry things that could even remotely be used as a club when you are out for a walk. That made me realize that I don’t know the laws in my own neighborhood. It might be illegal here and I wouldn’t have thought twice about carrying a golf club, tennis racquet, or baseball bat. For that matter, I might have even carried a machete to chop away some of the branches that hang out over the sidewalk. Man, I am some kind of criminal!

  • alanb

    @felicis & @Artor,

    You don’t need to worry about the veracity of police testimony as you will be quickly blocked from jury duty during voir dire.

    Is the burden of proof supposed to be on the person arrested?

    That’s a pretty silly question. Of course the answer is yes.

  • eric

    (1) “no evidence that Wingate did not swing the club”?!?! How does that make sense as a defense of the arrest? How does it make sense at all? Is the burden of proof supposed to be on the person arrested?

    If the officer is charged or fired, then the burden of proof for that will switch to the people charging/firing her. But even so, this seems to be pretty cut and dried. If the recording covers the entire time between when the officer was in the car to when she arrested and ‘disarmed’ him, then there was no time during the incident when they could’ve been standing near each other with him swinging the club. Sure, he could’ve swung it in the direction of her car during an earlier drive-by, but that’s not grounds for her actions. Shaking your fist or cane at a police car driving by is not assault, its ‘get off my lawnism.’

  • Synfandel

    @6 alanb wrote:

    One story is that Wingate was swinging the golf club at a stop sign and that Whitlatch then circled to block to come back to him.

    Watch the video. It runs for a minute and three quarters before Whitlatch approaches Wingate, during which she is driving all around town. She goes a block, turns left, goes a block, turns right, goes a block, turns right, goes a block, and then pulls over and accosts Wingate. There is no block circling and Wingate first appears when she pulls over.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    For all that the police departments in other cities get the national attention, the Seattle PD is pretty bad. A federal investigation recently found a culture of racial bias and excessive use of force. A plan to change this culture was proposed by the Department of Justice, and last year the police union challenged the plan as a violation of their constitutional rights (which, apparently, includes the right to racial bias and excessive use of force.) The union has also been fighting tooth and nail against the use of body cameras, claiming that they will open police officers to litigation over “standard police procedures.”

    And keep in mind that the incident occurred a year ago. It has taken this long — mostly because of the union fighting to protect officers with proven track records of abuse — to build what should have been an open and shut case backed up with the department’s own video evidence.

  • John Hinkle

    Smith, in his comments Monday, said there is no evidence showing that Wingate did not swing the club.

    Well, then I guess we can dispense with these expensive body- and dashcams altogether. What a waste of money.

  • Knight in Sour Armor

    Disbanding all police unions would go a long way towards making officers accountable for their actions.

  • Scott Simmons

    I had to dig a bit to take this out of the ‘completely insane’ category. But it’s less cut-and-dried than it looks.

    I’m not clear on the geography here, so I’m going to call the direction the police car is driving at the start of the video north. Whitlatch’s claim is that, as she was turning west around 0:15 of that video, Wingate, crossing northbound on the west side of that street, swung his club/cane in her direction as she passed. She then turned back north at the next intersection, then east, and met up with Wingate again one block further north on the original street, which is the confrontation you see starting around 1:50.

    So her yelling that he swung the club at her ‘back there’ is not totally absurd. Her claim that his ‘attack’ was captured on video is incorrect, as that corner was out of frame of her dash cam (which she could well have been unaware of). There is, as the police union flack points out, no evidence for or against the story Whitlatch put in her report; it’s entirely a ‘he said-she said’ situation. (Well, not much; I do have to say that these look like full city blocks, circa 200 yards, which makes the timing a bit suspect. Wingate had to have been hobbling along with his makeshift cane at a medium jogging pace to get there that quickly. I guess he had an extra can of Metamucil that morning.)

    That said, Wingate sure isn’t acting like someone who made a threatening move towards a police officer, only to meet up with that officer a couple of minutes later coming around a corner. Were I in that situtation, “standing around nonchalantly” would not be my demeanor. My best guess is that some sudden movement in her peripheral vision caught her attention as she rounded the corner, when she glanced that way she saw ‘black man with golf club’, and the rest of the story got filled in by her imagination.

    She may be a Lord of the RIngs fan. “Sure, Háma let the old guy keep his walking stick, and the next thing you knew he was throwing magic around in the throne room. Not on my watch!”

  • skinnercitycyclist

    @17:

    damn straight. I am a dedicated union man myself, but police unions are one of the oppressive forces in this country. In Eugene, Oregon, the idiots who run the cop union would defend a cop who was caught fondling 2-year-olds on national television. Body cams, body cams, body cams.

  • jnorris

    I am not a lawyer and I do not want to do the online search to find out, but, if I remember correctly, it is a felony to lie to a law enforcement agent of any strip or jurisdiction. If that is so, then a police officer who out-right lies or doesn’t tell the whole truth on a police report or an arrest report should be charged with a felony.

    Officer Whitlatch will never be able to testify in court again. Every defense lawyer will question her testimony. No prosecutor will risk a mistrial on what will be suspected perjured testimony. So what good is she as a police officer?

    If I am wrong then I will gladly stand corrected. And I know y’all will let me know.

  • howardhershey

    So, while she was in a car, she claims that this elderly black man waved a golf club in her direction. Maybe even said a discouraging word or two. This “contempt of cop” activity was then the reason she circled back to confront his blatant “contempt of cop” criminal activity. At which point he refused to further demonstrate “contempt of cop” activity, which then led to his arrest for “contempt of cop”. Does that summarize it? Most arrests are for “contempt of cop”, whether deserved or not.

  • Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y

    Thank fuck for the cameras now being used to show the facts. make ’em compulsory for all cops – dashcams & on-cop cams and hopefully maybe we’ll soon* have an end to the problem or at least the worst cases?

    * At least in some aspects, at the least the worst cases and for a certain value of soon I guess, yeah?

    Possibly. Maybe progressives can get some reasonable protections passed while the right wingers are all busy masturbating to videos of police murdering black citizens who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    @jnorris #20 – “[I]f I remember correctly, it is a felony to lie to a law enforcement agent of any strip or jurisdiction.”

    You remember incorrectly. A police officer is required, as a matter of oath, procedure and law, to make her reports as accurate and as truthful as possible. Whitlatch violated that directive, and she (in theory) will be held accountable for her actions. But if you are a civilian, you are under no legal obligation to provide truthful information to a police officer unless you have council present and are under judicial oath to tell the truth. You could, in theory, be arrested and charged with obstructing justice, but that is pretty unlikely and a very different circumstance than facing a felony charge of lying to law enforcement.

  • Scott Simmons

    @howardhershey #21: That seems about right to me,