A Seattle cop was put on leave after using sexist and racist slurs in an altercation with his Chinese-American neighbor, marking the second such incident this month for the police department.
Explicit Sexist Racist Insults
An anonymous person published the audio, which seems to capture Seattle Police Officer Burton Hill hurling explicit sexist and racist insults at his neighbor in an August 2022 dispute over alleged food scraps left outside that could have harmed Hill’s dog.
In the recorded exchange, which took place at their Kenmore condominium complex, and was seemingly captured by the neighbor after Hill knocked on her door.
Then it appears the officer starts hurling derogatory language targeting women and Asian individuals, repeatedly labeling the woman as “dumb” and “stupid.”
An Enquiry Launched
The neighbor subsequently lodged a complaint with Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability, which is now investigating Hill’s alleged misconduct, according to Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz.
“Although I will ultimately defer, as I am required, to the outcome of OPA’s investigation, racist language is completely unacceptable and is inconsistent with the high standards the department sets for its employees,” Diaz stated on Friday.
Diaz expressed concerns about not being aware of the incident for an entire year, leading him to initiate a review of Hill’s arrest and investigation history in response.
Accountability Needed Now!
Elected officials in Seattle voiced their concerns about the SPD’s culture once the audio became public, echoing previous calls for heightened accountability.
“While city law prevents me from commenting on the details of the event undergoing OPA investigation, racism has no place in our Police Department and in our city. Full stop,” stated Mayor Bruce Harrell, commending Diaz for taking prompt action when the audio surfaced.
Seattle City Council member Tammy Morales also demanded “a plan of action” from the Police Department.
Morales remarked, “The reality is that no other city employee would be excused from this behavior, where they can laugh and joke about killing somebody, spit racist slurs, and continue taking home a six-figure paycheck.”
Morales was among the first officials to raise concerns about SPD when another incident involving an officer’s conduct towards an Asian woman came to light last week.
In that incident, body-camera footage captured Daniel Auderer, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, making jokes with the union’s president, Mike Solan, after Officer Kevin Dave fatally struck 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula with his car while speeding to respond to an overdose report in South Lake Union on January 23.
In the video, Auderer, a drug-recognition officer assigned to determine if Dave was under the influence, referred to Kandula as a “regular person” with “limited value” and suggested that the department should “write a check” in response to her death.
Although the union contended that Auderer’s remarks were satirical comments about the legal process following Kandula’s death, the audio provoked international outrage and calls from local officials for increased oversight of SPD and SPOG.
Council member Morales noted on Friday, just before Chief Diaz announced Hill’s administrative leave, that “Burton Hill, Daniel Auderer, and Kevin Dave are all still on duty. So far, none of these officers have faced consequences or even been placed on leave.”
An SPD spokesperson declined to comment on Auderer’s or Dave’s status with the department.
Earlier this week, the Community Police Commission asked Chief Diaz to place Auderer on leave and to engage with the commission, the OPA, and the Office of Inspector General to discuss concerns about SPD’s culture.
Co-Chairperson Joel Merkel stated on Friday that the CPC had not received a response from the chief and that they intend to initiate discussions with the SPD regarding The Stranger’s revelations.
Merkel remarked, “It speaks to the cultural issues we keep raising. It feels never-ending at this point.”
Council member Teresa Mosqueda posted on social media that Hill’s alleged treatment of his neighbor is a result “of a culture that fosters abuse of power without consequences.”
Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Increasing
Mosqueda also said the conduct’s alarming nature, particularly in light of the increase in hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Just this week, a man was charged with a hate crime for allegedly vandalizing Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, smashing nine windows in an apparently racially motivated attack a week earlier. Criticism arose as Seattle police reportedly took more than 45 minutes to respond.
Harrell expressed his concern about the rise in attacks against people of Asian descent and his determination to rebuild trust between Seattle police and city residents.
“This comes at a time when AAPI communities in Seattle and around the country have seen an unacceptable increase in hate-filled attacks,” Harrell said. “I understand and acknowledge the community’s outrage and disappointment stemming from recent incidents.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / 1000 Words
Source: The Columbian