An elderly black man was arrested in Seattle while he was using his golf club as a cane. The Seattle Police Department is reviewing the conduct of the officer who had made the arrest. Her online history shows that she had previously characterized the Ferguson unrest as “chronic black racism.”
The Seattle PD were also nice enough to release the dashboard-camera footage of the encounter that had led to the arrest. Also caught on film was the delusional ranting of one female police officer.
“You swung that golf club at me when I turned the corner at 11th and Pike,” Officer Cynthia Whitlatch said to 70-year-old William Wingate as she arrested him.
This “club-swinging” does not make an appearance in the 20-minute video, which starts out with Whitlatch yelling several times at Wingate to drop the golf club. She had even called it a “weapon” at one point. Wingate points out that he had been “walking with this golf club for 20 years.”
The video below had been procured by The Stranger via public records request.
“You just swung that golf club at me!” Whitlatch said in the video, proving that the she was either lying or more senile than any elderly people in the video. The man had moved the club very slightly in anon-provocative manner prior to her accusations , but her interpretation of this non-event leads us to the obvious elephant in the room: how exactly are officers trained to identify provocation, and more importantly, what form of non-provocative stick-shaking would have resulted in the use of deadly force? The sheer number of police brutality/execution cases should be enough to make us sit up and take this question seriously, particularly for cases where footage is not available.
Wingate is an Air Force veteran and has no criminal history. He was arrested and jailed, according to KIRO.
“I was scared,” KIRO reported Wingate as saying “I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. I knew one thing—I was being framed.”
“I know one thing,” the retired bus driver and 20-year military veteran said. “I’m a black man walking down the street doing nothing and I got stopped and went to jail by a white police officer.”
He has filed a claim with the City of Seattle, asking for damages of more than $750,000.
“Mr. Wingate’s physicians and family members and friend will attest to the emotional distress caused by the racial profiling, arrest, and incarceration of this man, whose only crime was ‘walking in Seattle while black,’” part of the claim reads.
The Seattle police for their part have apologized and dropped the unlawful use of a weapon charge.
“The Mayor believes that these incidents are unfortunate and disappointing,” according to The Stranger, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s communications director Viet Shelton was quoted as saying.
“He supports [Police] Chief [Kathleen] O’Toole’s decision to call for a comprehensive review of the overall conduct and performance of the officer involved.”
O’Toole announced the review of Officer Whitlatch Wednesday.
Whitlatch is also one of the Seattle PD officers who had filed a federal lawsuit against the use of force polices of the city according to KIRO.
According to the Seattle Police, a complaint over the arrest had also been filed with the Office of Professional Accountability.
“The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution,” said the Seattle Police Department in a statement.
Whitlatch has not been disciplined for behavior in the past, Seattle police said, claiming that there was no racial profiling involved in the arrest of Wingate.
“He should feel confident walking with a golf club in hand anywhere near the East Precinct,”spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said. “He should absolutely not be concerned.”
Whitlatch had earlier commented on Facebook, calling the Ferguson civil unrest that had been prompted by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager “chronic black racism”.
“I am tired of black peoples [sic] paranoia that white people are out to get them,” she wrote. “I am tired of hearing a black racist tell me the only reason they are being contacted is because they are black solely because I am NOT black.”
To be fair, she makes a valid point in that many other minorities and homeless do suffer from prejudice, ironically often also meted out by her department.
Seattle PD is also under fire for not filing charges against an officer who had punched a handcuffed black woman as well as wanton pepper spray usage on a crowd that had been marching through the city on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to two RT reports.