SEATTLE — The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office responded Thursday to reports that it doesn't charge suspects who assault police officers while resisting arrest.
The headline circulating online reads: “King County won’t charge criminals assaulting cops while resisting arrest.” The office for Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg called the headline “inaccurate and misleading.”
The article from the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH cites a case where a King County Sheriff’s deputy was kicked in the groin, but the female suspect was not charged with assault on an officer. However, she was charged with resisting arrest.
Satterberg’s office declined to charge the woman with assault but pointed to several factors. They noted deputies responded for a potential suicide call, that the suspect was intoxicated, and it appeared the deputy was struck while the woman was flailing and being strapped to a gurney for medical transport.
"Our office takes very seriously our obligation to hold offenders accountable who assault law enforcement officers,” a spokesperson for Satterberg said. “Despite the suggestion otherwise, our office has had no change in our filing and disposition standards related to these crimes."
The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office filed 367 cases involving a named police officer as a victim between January 1, 2016 and August 1, 2018. The cases include felony assault, felony harassment, and some misdemeanor charges. The office filed 489 cases related to referrals involving assaults committed against police officers since 2015, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor’s office also forwarded the charging guidelines listed below:
Law Enforcement and Firefighter
Assault in the third degree against a law enforcement officer under RCW 9A.36.031(1) subsection (a) or (g) or a firefighter or other employee of a fire department under 9A.36.030(1)(e) shall normally be filed if the assault can be best described as an intentional attack on the officer and one of the following exist:
(a) The officer has an injury or experiences significant pain as a result of the assault;
(b) The officer is taken or forced to the ground;
(c) The defendant bites the officer, spits in the officer's face or throws urine or bodily fluid on the officer;
(d) A substantial effort is required to stop the assault;
(e) The suspect attempts to get the officer’s firearm; or
(f) The suspect uses any object, not amounting to a deadly weapon, to assault the officer.
Assaults against officers involving deadly weapons or where substantial bodily harm results should normally be filed as assault in the second degree.
Assaults against officers that are best described as either resisting or mere unwanted touching should be filed as resisting or assault in the fourth degree.
Editor’s note: The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said it released incorrect information on May 2 related to criminal charges filed for assaults committed against police officers. The information has been corrected in the story above.