TACOMA, Wash. — The Washington state attorney general’s office fired a senior criminal investigator after a server at a Tacoma restaurant said the investigator allegedly made a scene and stiffed her on a tip for wearing a Black Lives Matter button.
The office concluded an investigation Wednesday that said Cloyd Steiger, a former Seattle police homicide detective, showed extremely poor judgment when he visited the Fish Peddler restaurant on Sept. 6 with his spouse.
Deputy Attorney General Todd Bowers said in the termination letter, Steiger displayed, "angry, disrespectful and disruptive" conduct at the restaurant and later on his public Facebook page when he posted a picture of the restaurant receipt with the note, "BLM button = no tip. That's how socialism works."
Steiger told AGO investigators that he had no issue with the acronym BLM, but with the BLM organization. According to the letter, Steiger "likened the BLM organization to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and said that both are hate groups."
Steiger has two sons that are Seattle police officers and one of them was working during the recent protests in Seattle, the letter said.
Bowers said in the letter that Steiger failed to meet the integrity standards of the office and had undermined the trust of the public and his fellow workers.
Steiger’s attorney Steve Fogg argued firing Steiger would violate his First Amendment rights.
In a statement Friday, Fogg said, "Terminating Cloyd is both a mistake and illegal. It is uncontested that Cloyd has served the public well for over forty years—his personnel record with the AG is spotless and he has been instrumental in solving dozens of homicides. The AG is firing Cloyd not because he didn’t do his job (he did it well) and not because he didn’t tip a waitress and raised his voice—if the AG fired people for that sort of private behavior, the ranks of the AG would be thin indeed. The AG fired Cloyd for expressing political opinions as a private citizen with which some members of the AG’s Office disagreed. That is not just illegal, but sets a frightening precedent that we will have no choice but to contest in court."