War of words between Seattle's top cops and top attorney

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 7, 2011 at 11:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 7 at 11:58 PM

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Police Management Association calls City Attorney Peter Holmes' decision to charge an officer a "deplorable miscarriage of justice."

Lt. James Lee was caught on camera repeatedly kicking a teenage suspect inside a convenience store. Lee was undercover and nearby fellow undercover officers were robbed and assaulted. Overall, it was Lee's kick that became the center of attention.

That kick is what led Lee to a courtroom Monday where he pleaded not guilty to fourth degree assault.

The charge has outraged the Seattle Police Management Association. They call City Attorney Peter Holmes' decision to charge Lee a "deplorable miscarriage of justice." The association says it's concerned, "his decision making has become politically motivated." Holmes argues his decisions are based on facts from the Washington State Patrol.

The President of the Seattle Police Management Association, Lt. Eric Sano tells KING 5 News Holmes ignored processes and procedures in place and accuses Holmes of badmouthing the department. Holmes says Sano doesn't know what he's talking about and that Sano needs to focus on policing and leave the legal side of things to him.

It's rare for the Seattle Police Management Association to get involved but Sano says they felt like they had to after what happened inside the courtroom yesterday. Holmes' office asked the judge to not allow Lee to carry a weapon when he's not on duty. When Lee's attorney explained it's required Lee carry a gun even in his personal time, the judge denied the request.

"That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Where is the presumption of innocence?" Sano said. 

Holmes insists he would make that request in any assault case.

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