Seattle Police Chief John Diaz: How to Get Kicked and Punched Into and Out of a Job

In one sense, Seattle Acting Police Chief John Diaz earned a few points toward a permanent appointment when two Seattle police officers were caught on tape last month kicking a wrongly detained suspect, Martin Monetti, and threatening to "beat the fucking Mexican piss out" of him.

To charges that his department was racist, Diaz's Latino face loomed into view on TV and the Web. Without ever having to say it, he made the argument that SPD had not replaced Miranda rights with beating up Mexicans. He was the right chief at the right time and of the right hue.

Shandy Cobane, the face-kicking detective who later tearfully apologized, seemed to have booted Diaz into office, turning the chief's 50-50 chances of permanency into a winning field goal. Diaz emerged as one of three finalists for the job and appeared the heavy favorite to be Mike McGinn's appointment as top cop.

Then came the punch that may have knocked him out. White cop Ian Walsh made at least two mistakes while arresting Marilyn Levias after a jaywalking incident this week - punching the black teen in the face, and doing it on camera.

She interfered with an officer. Yet Walsh, arguably, elevated the confrontation with a quick fist to the cheek, in the midst of a crowd, rather than stepping off and calling for backup.

The ensuing viral-video uproar demanded a response from the man who would be permanent chief. The NAACP immediately called for his removal, and the Urban League said the department should be ashamed.

But John Diaz went missing in action. Acting Deputy Chief Nick Metz handled the press conference yesterday, expressing concerns about Walsh's lack of finesse and promising an investigation.

Was Diaz out of town? No, said a department spokesperson this morning. Metz was "the point man on this." Why not Diaz? "I don't know," he said.

The mayor is reportedly on the verge of announcing his final choice for chief - assuming he hasn't already made it and informed the winner and loser(s). But Diaz, while he may still be the right guy, might have discovered it has become the wrong time.

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