First off, Goddamn the City Attorney's Office for sending out a press release at 5:09pm on a Friday. They're all swell people (hearts and butterflies, Kimberly!) but seriously: Goddamn them to Hell.
Now then, the news: City Attorney Pete Holmes is asking the Seattle Municipal Court to expunge a March 2010 jury decision convicting Donald Fuller of obstruction. The charge stemmed from a 2009 jaywalking incident allegedly escalated by Fuller (according to police). But for the past week, the full force of public scrutiny has been on the police department's Office of Professional Accountability (OPA), which seemingly improperly cheerleaded Fuller's prosecution after he filed misconduct charges against his arresting officers.
To recap, Fuller was allegedly jaywalking in downtown Seattle, was stopped, questioned, Tased (for allegedly resisting arrest), and subsequently arrested by police in March 2009. In April of that year, Fuller filed an officer misconduct complaint with the police department's OPA, which investigates complaints against officers. Fuller contended that during the jaywalking stop, he felt racially profiled and harassed. However, instead of investigating the complaint, an OPA officer contacted the City Attorney's office and advocated to have charges brought against Fuller—charges that the City Attorney's office had already declined to pursue.
Nevertheless, after the OPA's urging, Fuller was charged with one count of a misdemeanor assault and one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer—a move that the Seattle Human Rights Commission and others have said appears retaliatory. In March 2010, Fuller was acquitted of the assault charge but found guilty of obstruction.
"There was no prosecutorial misconduct in this matter, and I strongly disagree with any suggestion to the contrary," writes City Attorney Pete Holmes in a statement explaining his decision to ask a court to expunge the charge. "However, when he filed his OPA complaint, Mr. Fuller was entitled to rely in good faith on OPA’s policy that “[f]iling a complaint does not affect other civil or criminal proceedings.” As a former member of the OPA Review Board, I understand that it is vitally important for the community to know that neither OPA nor any other arm of law enforcement will retaliate when individuals exercise their rights to complain about police misconduct.
"I am taking this action because it is crucial that the public have full faith and confidence in both OPA and the criminal justice system. The CAO will continue to work to build the public’s trust in this system.”
It'll be up to a Municipal Judge to decide whether or not to wipe the charge from Fuller's record. TGIF.