*This post has been updated to reflect that a second witness, also a pedestrian, followed the driver of the patrol car—not the patrol car itself—around to alert an officer about the unattended rifle.
As Dan already posted this morning, Slog tipper Nick sent in this photograph, which he took "In front of the Roosevelt Hotel just after 9pm on June 27th. Left unattended, flagged down bike officers who were shocked as hell."
Holy shit! Free gun!
"The department is very embarrassed that this happened," says Seattle Police Department Sergeant Sean Whitcomb. "We’re incredibly grateful to the person that flagged down the bike officers and the woman who followed the patrol car driver around to let them know there was a rifle on the back of the car."
But were SPD officers driving around with an AR-15 rifle on the back of their squad car???? "I'm not going to comment," says Whitcomb, adding that the West Precinct has launched "an investigation into the circumstances that allowed this to happen."
Whitcomb says the department isn't releasing the names of the patrol officers. It's unclear at this point if the semi-automatic rifle was loaded or not. Regardless, Whitcomb says the officers didn't break any laws. "Really, it's just embarrassing," he says. "It most certainly shouldn’t happen at a police department level. People should expect more."
UPDATE: The department's Office of Professional Accountability is investigating the incident as well. "It is unacceptable that a rifle was left unattended on a patrol car and people should expect more from their police department," writes OPA director Kathryn Olson in an email. "I will monitor the investigation to ensure that all relevant facts are uncovered and that any lapse in procedure is appropriately addressed."