Washington State Sheriff Placed On Leave After Video Shows Him Holding Gun On Motorcyclist

08292017_screen-grab_085259-1200x630A troubling videotape of a King County sheriff’s detective holding a gun on a motorcyclist has resulted in his being placed on administrative leave.  Alex Randall, the motorcyclist, posted the videotape that shows him pulling up to a stop line at a red light.  The detective then walks up and points the gun at him.  The King County Sheriff has apologized to Randall but the department is still refusing to release the name of the detective.

After the detective walks up, Randall put his hands up and said “don’t shoot.” The deputy does not identify himself in approaching Randall but indicates that Randall was allegedly speeding and and driving recklessly.  That still does not explain the gun.

The detective’s side of the story is not known at this time, but that is no clear reason why the weapon was drawn and pointed at Randall.

 

41 thoughts on “Washington State Sheriff Placed On Leave After Video Shows Him Holding Gun On Motorcyclist

  1. My question is: What if another driver was armed and saw the off duty officer pull his weapon on the biker but didn’t know he was a cop and then confronted the ODO?
    Sounds like the cop put himself in a compromising situation.

  2. A few comments, FWTW: In some jurisdictions motorcycle driver at 100mph is engaged in felony speeding, a per se, arrestable offense upon contact by LE, confiscation of vehicle, and off you go in the back of an LE vehicle. “Deputy” is not “hiding” his weapon. He is instead in a very well done high retention position w/ trigger finger indexed, and given the circumstances of the contact, not surprised at all he did it. I’d give him a Pass on those two issues. Failure to identify himself as LE? FAIL!!!! Taking driver’s wallet w/o authorization and in presence of failure to ID himself, FAIL, although some may argue that in a felony vehicle stop, had he announced himself as LE and had he said “You are under arrest for felony speeding” (or whatever it might be called in WA state)”, then he was under no obligation to request permission. I hope he has a good FOP rep and a good lawyer ’cause I’m thinking he’s gonna get his arse sued, probably the PD as well, and the idiot jamoke, who nonetheless handled the contact very, very well, is likely gonna be able to buy a VERY expensive bike if he so chooses.

  3. True we don’t know the whole story and probably never will. But having been in that same situation from both sides of the handle bars a Policeman should never draqw a weapon unless he intends to use it which means there is some element of probable cause. OR too many back to back shifts which departments are famous for asssigning. On the other side since it looks like the typical Teddy Boy Bike than a Rocker but more like a Cafe Racer. Which ever it’s always better to polite and assume there is a reason for the traffic stop. Maybe the department was looking for antifa in disguise

  4. I have a lot of time riding motorcycles and a fair amount of interaction with cops. The bike was sitting still in neutral which even a half-idiot cop [the kind this one appears to be] could recognize because both hands were off the bars. The rider was wearing gloves and in a half sitting position which made it impossible to retrieve a weapon from anywhere below the waist and very slow to unzip riding gear and reach a weapon under his jacket. He would almost certainly needed to remove the gloves to put a finger on the trigger. If he reached for the handlebars to escape he could have real easily been kicked over. The rider may have been driving aggressively but riders driving crazy, like a hundred in traffic, are normally vigilant in watching for the law.

  5. Don’t be a cop in that state if you expect to live long. Not after this BS incident. They should suspend those who suspended the cop.

  6. Don’t know the reason for the stop, don’t know why the officer has his weapon out. I do see his lights flashing and maybe he sounded his siren before the stop, if so this kid had to know the guy was a cop. I do know for fact that officers are shot during routine stops and their weapons are holstered. I want all the facts.

        • You want “all the facts?” You have all the facts based on what each party said on the video. The cop didn’t refer to anything other than the driver’s speeding. He didn’t order the driver off the bike or cuff him before holsteringbhis weapon. He was just using his gun to threaten the driver and control the situation, which is unacceptable and almost certainly a violation of policy. When it’s clear that all the relevant facts are known and someone declares they need more facts before making a judgment, it generally means the person is biased. That’s appears to explain your comment. Bias.

  7. Except for having a gun out as ‘backup’ the cop had his flashing lights on, probably isn’t required to wear a uniform, and comported himself calmly and cooly. In America, today, the rights of self defense and carrying weapons has been threaded into the society. We live in a society armed to the teeth. Cops routinely approach vehicles with one officer, hand on holster, to the driver’s side window and the other in the rear with a gun trained at the people in the car. The profile of the gun is so blatant in the US it would seem to render this officer’s approach as normal. As much as it could be the gun seemed to be non threatening. He wasn’t waving it in the guy’s face with an adrenaline rush coming on. There are far worse exhibitions of cops out of control. Unfortunately, this is a mild situation at worst. All that said, the cop should add the presentation of his badge to further explain the flashing lights, in a civilized society. Enter the lawyers.

  8. Before they pass judgment on this cop, the motorist should be compelled to provide the entire unaltered video – including the several minutes before he stopped! He should not be allowed to profit from antics meant to provoke anxiety in law enforcement officers. He clearly heard the cop ask for his ID, but claimed he couldn’t hear clearly. This was an intentional provocation by the motorcyclist, who conveniently had his camera rolling and was not at all genuinely frightened by this cop. His “oh shit” upon seeing the gun is play acting. If he had genuinely been fearful, he wouldn’t have given him that BS about not being able to hear. In my view, this is a transparent manipulation of law enforcement to conjure “police brutality” propaganda.

    • Debbie, a lot of motorcyclists – myself included – wear earplugs when we ride because the wind noise will damage our hearing. And I don’t know about the laws in Washington, but in California, motorcyclists are allowed to wear earplugs so long as we can hear certain levels of ambient noise (like emergency vehicle sirens).

      I do agree with you that there may be more context earlier in the recording, but nothing that would explain/justify the officer’s unprofessional behavior.

  9. Cop put the motorcyclist’s life in danger for no visible cause when he drew the gun.

    Sheriff’s department won’t release his name; the coverup starts right there.

    Any wonder that public trust for cops is eroding in certain areas?

  10. I have to be brief on my response to this incident since I’ve limited time. I don’t see this as going well for the deputy.

    1) I have to assume for the purpose of argument the motorcyclist was breaking the traffic law. I do believe he was driving recklessly or at least negligently given the fact that a detective would stop him while in an unmarked car and out of uniform. But that isn’t as relevant.

    2) First, we have to look to see if the reason for drawing down on the motorcyclist is reasonable. Driving recklessly isn’t in of itself justification for pulling a pistol on someone. Attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle is a Class C Felony in WA and because of danger involved many of those traffic stops will result in pistols drawn because of the danger involved. Unless that is mentioned in the detective’s report I don’t see evidence of it here. Plus, he would have taken him into custody immediately if it was.

    3) It is possible the detective could argue that he drew his pistol because he felt the motorcyclist might flee. There is evidence to support this belief in that he said to the driver if he tried to drive off he would “dump” him. But even if that is the case, the detective would not be justified in drawing a pistol to prevent him from fleeing.

    4) From the perspective of the detective articulating that he believed the motorcyclist would elude him, even if he was the fact going to elude, under the felony eluding statute contains an element requiring the law enforcement officer to be in uniform. No felony eluding is possible and hence no common law justification for fleeing felon is available.

    5) In drawing the pistol without identifying himself as a law enforcement officer upon walking up to the motorcyclist the detective committed a serious officer safety violation. If the motorcyclist thought that some crazy civilian was pulling a gun to harm him the detective could be shot by the citizen. From a legal perspective he might have a defense to that. Know however that if a person does try to harm another with malice, WA’s courts determined that there is no knowledge element required in ranking an assault up another degree higher for an ADW on a police officer.

    6) The detective made an illegal search by pulling the wallet out of the driver’s pocket.

    For this detective’s sake in the IA investigation he better have some strong justification in having a firearm drawn or I can see some form of discipline enforced against him. What I found a bit disturbing was that the detective seemed express that he needed to draw the pistol, but after demanding the driver give ID, he told him that all he needed to happen was for the driver to identify himself and then put the gun away. That doesn’t lend much credibility to being under threat.

    • #5-6 were what bothered me the most, as a civilian.

      I watched the first couple of minutes of the video (sacrificing my limited broadband) because I just had to know what happened.

      The officer did not identify himself, but just startled him. The rider casually pulled up to the stoplight and waited, which was not the behavior of someone fleeing police. I did not hear a siren on the video. I did not see the lights until the rider turned all the way around, and then it wasn’t the bubble gum machine on top (light strip) but just a few lights on one side of the windshield.

      If all of a sudden a civilian walks up to you and sticks a gun on you, some people would startle badly and strike or kick out before their forebrain catches up with their hind brain. This could have been an officer involved shooting that was entirely unnecessary and preventable.

      This cop was lucky that the driver immediately cooperated and showed no aggression. The rider did the right thing by complying and making himself as non threatening as possible.

      I did not hear the cop identify himself as an officer, or tell him to keep his hands where he could see them or anything else. It sounded like he was giving a scolding with a gun pulled on the rider. And then he demanded the wallet without identifying himself. I’d be scared to give my ID to an armed stranger because I’d be afraid to let him know where I lived.

      What a frightening encounter that could have easily escalated.

      What is the usual protocol for an officer out of uniform? That wasn’t an undercover vehicle, was it? More like just an unmarked. What kind of work are unmarked cars and officers out of uniform used for? I wouldn’t think undercover, since the car still has that municipal look to it. Are they required to show their badge out of uniform?

      • Karen,

        Regarding your last paragraph

        In order to establish his authority, and for many other obvious reasons such as safety, an officer should identify himself immediately in a situation such as the video we seen. There are a myriad of statutory and common laws relating to this topic in WA state, which in itself could compromise an entire article. But I’ll enumerate a few applicable here.

        RCW 46.61.022

        Failure to obey officer—Penalty.

        Any person who willfully fails to stop when requested or signaled to do so by a person reasonably identifiable as a law enforcement officer or to comply with RCW 46.61.021(3), is guilty of a misdemeanor.

        This statute has as an element that an officer be “reasonably identifiable” Here the detective is not uniformed and does not show identification documents. However there is a conflict in the statute.

        RCW 46.61.021

        Duty to obey law enforcement officer—Authority of officer.

        (1) Any person requested or signaled to stop by a law enforcement officer for a traffic infraction has a duty to stop.

        (2) Whenever any person is stopped for a traffic infraction, the officer may detain that person for a reasonable period of time necessary to identify the person, check for outstanding warrants, check the status of the person’s license, insurance identification card, and the vehicle’s registration, and complete and issue a notice of traffic infraction.

        (3) Any person requested to identify himself or herself to a law enforcement officer pursuant to an investigation of a traffic infraction has a duty to identify himself or herself and give his or her current address.

        In this statute, there is no uniform or officer identification element in the law. So, there is a conflict. Washington’s Supreme Court a few years ago mandated that the state must prove every requisite element of a crime for a conviction. In the light most favorable to the defendant I could see the courts taking a case such as this if for example the driver left the scene after being stopped because the state might have issues proving the detective identified himself.

        About every six months or so someone in the state gets caught impersonating a police officer by pulling over random vehicles on the highway using emergency lights they bought off the internet. In fact the problem was becoming so visible the legislature mandated that when a surplus emergency vehicle is sold to the public, all emergency equipment must be removed prior to delivery. In my opinion if the defendant was startled by having a gun drawn on him by some unannounced, unidentified person, despite the fact that it was a government owned vehicle equipped with emergency lighting, the defendant would have a credible defense that a repeat of a “fake cop” incident was occurring and he fled for his safety. Had the detective identified himself, that defense would be weak at best.

        One of the reasons for having “unmarked” cars is because for detectives it is better for surveillance and also the fact that you are not expected to become involved in traffic incidents as would be the case with the public seeing a standard patrol car.

        On another note, in Washington law enforcement officers are required to show their commission cards any time a citizen requests one.

  11. The cop wasn’t in uniform so perhaps he used the gun to establish his authority and control the situation. I don’t know what their regulations provide, but I doubt his actions were justified. He should have showed his badge and kept the other hand on his holstered weapon.

    • Ummm, when an plainclothes policeman wants to “establish authority,” he/she shows a badge. This cop should be fired.

      • Uniform isn’t required, Identification can be verbal and the emergency lights on the vehicle showed that.

        As for right or wrong CATO institute did a study back when it was required to turn in the information but no one did to the feds …… They determined that the amount of police officers breaking a law or commiting a crime to be more blunt as a percentage of the total number of Law Enforcement officers is not only 1.5% but the percentage of criminals in the general population is almost exactly the same. Further the same percentage stretches across all categories of crime.

        The point is the amount of wrong doers one is likely to encounter is the same.

        The obvious queston is what further steps were taken to determine any common factors and use them to keep that one percent out of law enforcement. Second question what sort of training is given and does it need improving (National Police Chiefs did a study on high speed pursuits causing death of injury and found lack of training not only in driving but in determining when to drive at speed, and permission to drive at such speeds were the culprits.

        Information thus gathered is useless when it isn’t used. The federal law that required police activity reports was passed and signed by President Clinton and then …. then nothing. mostly due to department funding which wasn’t available to support such a paperwork heavy requirement. Lack his 100,000 cops it served no real purpose except for pubolicity and replacing border patrol officers he had already laid off.

        the source is….http://www.policemisconduct.net/arguing-the-case-for-police-accountability-part-1/

        The department I worked in and the laws of travel above speed limits and other limiting conditions were NEVER for fire and ambulance vehicles and if done by a police officer the officer was solely responsible. Funny enough the first speeding ticket I issued was to an ambulance driver who was using the equipment for a joy ride…..and got fired.

        Producing a weapon was also the subject of a very long report. but on the other hand the ratio year after year was five felons dead and in the history of the department one police officer due to an on duty motorcycle accident.

        The funniest was a policemans wife shooting the toilet seat out from under her play around husband in a fit wifely anger.

        The application of training and improved equipment led to ditching the .38 lead bullet and switching to 38+P SJHP, no warning shots or shoot to wound allowed and always two shots fired. Point was if it wasn’t worth that much effort use the other equipment.

        IMHO nine millimeter (like the others in the actual .334 diameter family) but a very weak round with FJ round nose is also not worth the effort.

        Last never assume anything. and most of the comments are assumptions based on heavily prejudiced personal opinion. Pre Judice Judging before any facts in evidence are obtained. the opposite is post judice. I suspect there are a lot of deficiencies in understanding our basic legal document and substituting WAGs Wild Ass Guesses. Not even Scientific WAGs. just guesses.

  12. I think this cop’s got some ‘splainin to do. He seemed to be pretty casual about drawing his weapon.

    What really piques my curiosity is that helmet-mounted video cameras are pretty obvious – they’re not hidden recording devices. The mount is literally glued to the outside of the motorcycle helmet, usually on top, but sometimes in front of the chin bar. But they’re right out there. This cop didn’t seem to have any fear of having a recording of his actions (I’m assuming he could clearly see the camera).

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