- Detective Shandy Cobane, right, before making a bawling apology. On the left is Seattle Police Officers' Guild president Rich O'Neill.
The police officer who told a Latino suspect in April that he would “beat the fucking Mexican piss out of you, homey,” broke into tears and bawled through an apology for his statements at a press conference tonight in the basement of the Seattle Police Department headquarters. SPD officials also said they have been investigating the misconduct for weeks but didn't reassign the officer until today, a day after television news aired footage of the incident.
"At no time did I ever dream that I would ever do something that would be bring such negative notoriety to my department," said Detective Shandy Cobane, 44. "Sadly I did."
On April 17, Cobane and members of the SPD gang unit and officers of the West Precinct reported to an alleged robbery on Westlake Avenue. Video footage of the incident shows Cobane yelling at the suspect—who was released on the scene because he wasn't the offender police were searching for—and apparently stomping the man's head against the concrete, and another officer stomping the man’s kneecap against the pavement.
"We made contact with male individual that was Latino. It was then that I chose words during contact with that young man that were unprofessional, words that violated not only policy of my department but the basic values that the department prides itself on," Cobane said.
"As the result of my comments, I have not only let down myself but also let down my colleagues," he continued. "I hope you will not allow my insensitive comments to taint what the department and community has worked hard to build."
When asked, assistant interim chief Nicholas Metz said brass at SPD knew about the transgression shortly after the incident, and they began an investigation with the Office of Professional Accountability within one or two days. However, police administrators did not place Cobane on "administrative reassignment" until today—one day after footage of the incident aired on KIRO television. Asked why the department waited, Metz said, "We handle these thing on case by case basis," and he said that "tension" had affected the "integrity of the investigation." Another officer involved in the incident was also placed on administrative reassignment today, said Metz.
Interim Police Chief John Diaz insisted repeatedly that, despite the apology, an internal police investigation would continue. "The use of race or racial slurs or ethnic slurs is never acceptable from any member of our department," said Diaz.
"This investigation will continue we will go fully through it. I think as a department, and personally to me, my job is to rebuild the trust in the Latino community. As a Latino," Diaz added, "the words were hurtful but I appreciate the fact that the detective Cobane was willing to come forward, without any prompting, and make that apology."
"I accept full responsibility or my comments," Cobane said. "My comment that night does not reflect who I am or what I am as a person, nor as a member of the Seattle Police Department."