King County deputy Patrick "KC" Saulet has been fired for ordering Dominic Holden, a reporter for the Seattle newspaper "The Stranger," to stop taking pictures of an arrest from a public street; for lying to Holden about which part of the public scene was and was not public property; and for lying to his boss later about the incident. Saulet's boss, King County sheriff John Urquhart, explained that he'd fired his officer because "You have a constitutional right to photograph the police," and "[threatening to arrest a citizen for legally taking photos of cops] is a constitutional violation."
The fired deputy had a long history of civil rights abuses, and the police force had spent a lot of money and time on retraining and counselling for him.
It's extremely refreshing to see senior police officials taking the law seriously when it comes to the officers they command, and to understand the corrosive effect on trust between the public and the police created by impunity for abuses such as these.
Suffice it to say, in my judgement, the evidence shows that (i) you abused your authority in your dealings with Mr. Holden on July 30, and (ii) thereafter, rather than be accountable, you attempted to recast events in a light more favorable to you. Stated broadly, for example, you claim you interacted with Mr. Holden in a civil, professional manner that was nothing more than 'social contact'; you did little more than tell him for his benefit that he couldn't ride on Metro property because doing so is a $66 infraction; [you claim that two other deputies] Shook and Mikulcik told him the same thing; and you once calmly pointed him in a direction you were suggesting he leave. But the evidence is that you approached Mr. Holden because you took exception with him lawfully exercising his right to take photographs of you and your colleagues while lawfully standing on public property; you were agitated and confrontational; you essentially 'squared off' with him; you expressly and/or implicitly threatened to arrest him if he did not leave immediately in the specific direction you pointed, not once but five times (misidentifying public property as private property in the process); and Shook and Mikulcik deny the statement you attribute to them.
Sheriff Fires Cop Who Threatened to Arrest Me for Taking Photos of Cops [Dominic Holden/The Stranger]
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