Man claims he was charged after complaining about Seattle police

Man claims he was charged after complaining about Seattle police »Play Video
Donald Fuller
SEATTLE -- A local man claims he wound up facing criminal charges simply because he complained about Seattle police.

Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability promises "no retaliation." But the allegations made in a motion filed on Friday makes that promise appear worthless.

Donald Fuller ran into trouble while walking in downtown Seattle on a Friday afternoon three years ago.

"I was heading up to Steward Street," he said. "I was on my way to do some work for the homeless."

That's when he says two Seattle police officers called him over and said he could get a ticket.

"And I said, 'Ticket? Ticket for what?' And he (the officer) said, 'Jaywalking,'" said Fuller.

That was the beginning of a nightmare for Fuller and of a series of questionable actions by the Office of Professional Accountability -- the very office charged with protecting citizens from police misconduct.

"I think the OPA is a sham," said James Egan, an attorney representing Fuller. "I think the OPA is a shill that actually protects officers."

Three years after Fuller was arrested, charged and convicted of obstruction, Egan has uncovered a web of documents that show Fuller never would have been charged if he had simply never complained.

"Mr. Fuller's mistake was to trust the OPA not to retaliate against him. That's exactly what they did," Egan said.

On March 6, 2009, Fuller was arrested and booked into jail for obstruction, resisting and assaulting an officer. But King County prosecutors refused to file charges.

Then OPA got involved.

The OPA investigator's own report shows she actually hand-walked the criminal case to the city attorney's office for filing.
The city attorney also declined to file charges, citing insufficient evidence.

But the OPA investigator didn't give up. She met with a different city attorney to explain why she disagreed, and the city attorney said he would reconsider. Just two days later, the attorney agreed to file charges against Fuller.

OPA's own website promises it will not retaliate against complainants.

"The OPA are a bunch of bald-faced liars when they say they won't retaliate against complainants," Egan said.

Fuller had no idea that the very people he had turned to to investigate police were working against him.

"I try to have faith in SPD as it is, and then to find out about OPA? Whew, I'm thinking this is not a good day," he said.

Egan has filed a motion to get rid of Fuller's conviction for obstruction, calling it a case of "vindictive prosecution."

The OPA has not returned any of KOMO's calls.

Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, who is the head of the Public Safety Committee, said he takes these allegations very seriously, and plans to meet with both the OPA and the city attorney's office.