SPD investigating alleged suppression of stomping video

SPD investigating alleged suppression of stomping video
SEATTLE -- The Seattle Police Department has launched an investigation into the department’s handling of the police stomping video captured by a freelance photographer on April 17.

Sgt. Sean Whitcom said the department’s Office of Professional Accountability is looking into whether any employees knew about the video and attempted to suppress it by pressuring media sources.

"On May 19th the Office of Professional Accountability was made aware of information published by a local media outlet earlier in the day alleging that unidentified Seattle Police Department members tried to exert influence over another media outlet, specifically discouraging that media outlet from disseminating the April 17th video," the statement said.

On Wednesday, the Stranger published allegations made by a current Q13 employee, who claimed the station had chosen not to air the stomping video at the request of police sources.

"The police officers who work closely with the Q13 staff specifically asked their contacts in Q13 management not to air or share the footage in any way. Management complied and refused to do anything with the footage," the employee reportedly told the weekly publication.

The freelance photographer who captured the stomping video has told media outlets he took his video to KIRO 7 after Q13 allegedly refused to air it.

Last week, Q13 issued a statement denying allegations that the station intentionally suppressed the stomping video in an attempt to protect the officers involved.

"The video is very disturbing. The actions of the officers and the language used by one of them, understandably, elicits an emotional reaction from everyone who sees it. As a result, we felt it was important to learn as much as possible about the circumstances surrounding the incident captured on the video before we aired it. Not doing so would have been reckless and done a disservice to the community and to the police department," the station said.

Q13 added its relationship with the Seattle Police Department through its airing of the "Washington's Most Wanted" segment had no effect on its decision to delay the airing of the video.

"We understand those concerns, but think they are misguided," the statement said. "This was simply a case of taking too long to do the job you expect of us, nothing more."

The Seattle Police Department's investigation is the first to delve into the alleged suppression of the footage. Two separate investigations have been launched into the actual stomping itself, by the FBI and the Seattle police.