IT WAS THE confirmation many Seattle police officers were waiting to hear: Chief Norman Stamper saying, in effect, the probe into an alleged police theft was politically inspired.
At a press conference last week, Stamper admitted to reporters that the department had earlier investigated the case of Detective Sonny Davis, accused of briefly taking $10,000 from a South Seattle crime scene, then returning it. As Seattle Weekly reported a week earlier ("Cops vs. Cops," 4/1), officers said the incident was reviewed by the department in 1996 and Davis was cleared.
Stamper, in a statement that also supports officers' claims of a department at war with itself, said he was not aware of the internal probe more than two years ago, and was angry the information had been withheld from him.
"We have an interest in who knew what when," the chief said, promising to discipline anyone who hid details of the earlier review. Stamper left unanswered the question of why, then, did the alleged theft resurface just as Davis, 55, was about to retire. (The allegations arrived as fellow veteran detective Don Cameron, 63—who supposedly helped Davis return the money— is also mulling retirement.)
As insiders have told the Weekly, personality conflicts are driving the case, which has been under review by the county prosecutor's office. By resurrecting the allegations, a politically correct new guard could purge or at the least embarrass old-liners such as Davis and Cameron, they theorize.
That attempt now seems to have backfired, however. Besides the likelihood that a case against the two detectives can't be proven, insiders say, rivals who reasserted the allegations have accidentally blown the top off bigger problems within the SPD. These include widespread claims of departmental infighting and comparably more serious allegations of felony police misconduct, including burglary, stalking, and tolerance of drug crimes by officers ("Cop Wars," SW, 4/8).
In addition, the city attorney's office last week said it had settled a woman's claim of rape by a Seattle police detective. According to a complaint for damages filed with the city clerk's office in 1997, a Seattle rape victim complained she was "date-raped" by the detective who was investigating her sexual assault case.
The woman, 31, a medical insurance specialist, says the detective "took advantage of his position as a police officer to abuse me further. Under the pretext of police business, he took me to his apartment and 'date' raped me. In addition to the date rape, he threatened to harass me significantly, adding to the mental anguish I was already experiencing. . . . This, in addition to actions taken by the Seattle Police Dept. during its internal investigation . . . made me feel Seattle was not safe so I moved out of the area."
A spokesperson for the city attorney says the woman was ultimately paid a $7,500 settlement. The outcome of the police internal investigation could not be determined last week. The woman now lives in Nevada.