Lakewood

Lawyer: Lakewood PD covered up alleged racial-profiling case

Lawyer: Lakewood PD covered up alleged racial-profiling case »Play Video
LAKEWOOD, Wash. -- A case once closed is back open again as the Lakewood Police Department is accused of destroying documents to cover-up an alleged case of racial profiling.

Darren Burgess' original complaint of racial profiling against the Lakewood Police Department was first settled out of court. The incident involved a domestic disturbance call allegedly made by Burgess. He says officers wouldn't allow him back in his car to leave the scene and they arrested him when he refused to walk home.

But the case didn't end with the settlement.

"An anonymous letter from what I perceive to be a whistleblower in the city of Lakewood indicating that documents had been deliberately destroyed in Darren's case," said Tyler Firkins, Burgess' attorney.

They're documents that Firkins says include the training records of one of the officers during his probationary period. It included worries of profiling "gang banger" cars.

"So we didn't have that link between the conduct of falsely arresting Darren and putting him in jail and the fact that this officer had been under suspicion of racially profiling individuals," Firkins said.

He says the records were not handed over in the original case but the whistleblower made a copy before they were destroyed.

"Someone needs to have criminal charges brought against them for that because that's against the law," Burgess said.

A judge has ordered the case re-opened, and in its formal response, the city does not deny the original existence of the training record.

"Their lack of defense was rather startling because it necessarily admits that the Lakewood Police Department intentionally destroyed records, that they deliberately hid them from the plaintiff in this particular case that they violated a federal court order," Firkins said.

Firkins says that's a crime.

"Who is going to be prosecuted as a result of this -- because records don't go missing by themselves," Firkins said.

Burgess added: "For them to not deny it -- once again, it's showing something is corrupt in that department that need to be handled."

The Lakewood Police Department says it can not comment on pending litigation.