SEATTLE – Seattle police released video Thursday of an incident in December in which an off-duty officer is accused of crossing the line.
The Seattle police officer in question has been reassigned to a non-patrol job for now and is under criminal investigation for making "physical contact" with a handcuffed man after a brawl outside a nightclub.
According to Seattle police, the off-duty officer, identified as Garth Haynes in court documents, was at The BalMar, a nightclub in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.
Haynes saw a woman holding his and his friend's jackets. He said he was an officer and told her she took jackets that did not belong to her, and that he wanted them back. According to a Seattle Police Department statement, she refused, saying the jackets belonged to a friend, but the officer was able to get the jackets back.
Haynes and his friend called 911 and were following her when both men were attacked by three men they did not know from behind.
On-duty officers responding to the call saw the men and separated them.
As officers were trying to calm the situation, one of the three men came over and kicked the off-duty officer in the head, said the Seattle Police Department. One of the responding officers recognized Haynes as an SPD officer.
In the newly released video, Haynes somehow managed to reach the handcuffed suspects and kicked one in the head.
A woman claiming to have witnessed what happened at the bar, but wishing to remain anonymous, said the off-duty officer is lying.
"He was belligerent, drunk and smelled like alcohol," she said. "He's like, 'You stole my jacket! I'm a police officer and you stole my jacket.' He says, 'I'm arresting you. I'm arresting you.'…Those guys should not have been charged with third degree assault. They were helping a woman in distress."
Seattle police say the officer was a crime victim, but also say he "violated the law" and his actions were "not acceptable."
As for the three men Seattle police said attacked the off-duty officer and his friend, they were booked into King County Jail and have since been charged with assault in the third degree.
The King County Prosecutor's Office said it did not know about the dash-cam video, or anything about the stomping incident, when they decided to charge the three suspects with the crime of assault of an officer, said spokesman Ian Goodhew.
Prosecutors looked at the police incident report and statements from officers on the scene that night to make charging decisions. The police incident report did not mention the stomping. The on-duty officers that night, who provided statements to the prosecutor's office, did not mention the stomping.
Prosecutors did not learn of the video, or see the video, until January 12, one month after the incident and after they charged the three suspects.
"When we make charging decisions we want as much information from police as possible," said Goodhew. "We would have wanted this information at the time of our charging decision; however, it's unlikely this information would have changed our charging decision."
Goodhew said the video was turned over to lawyers for the suspects in mid January. They are in discussions about how the video might affect their defense in the case.