We all-too-frequently find ourselves sharing stories of police officers abusing the power they have been given by harassing and often threatening to arrest photographers even if they have done nothing wrong.
What we don’t hardly ever share — in fact, a cursory search dug up exactly zero such stories — is the news that those officers, who are usually ‘under investigation’ at the time of the original story, have been fired or significantly disciplined in any way. Today, that changes.
Officer ‘K.C.’ Saulet, one of the cops who, along with one of his partners, threatened to arrest Seattle newspaper editor Dominic Holden last July, has been fired by the King County Sheriff’s Department. According to Holden, who obviously believes this was the right decision, Saulet ‘dug his own grave’ so to speak by having too many such altercations on his record, and then lying to police about this one.
The incident is described as one in a pattern that included 120 allegations made and 21 sustained, even though Saulet had been “repeatedly… coached and counseled” in improving his interactions with people. The only option left, explained King County Sheriff John Urquhart in a disciplinary letter, was to part ways with former Officer Saulet once and for all.
Here’s a snippet from letter, issued on January 30th:
Your ill-advised actions also play to some of the most basic fears among some citizens, which is that a police officer may indiscriminately exercise his or her power in violation of their rights, because in the event of a complaint, the officer will just deny the allegations and ‘circle the wagons’ with his or her fellow officers on the expectation they will take care of their own.
In a matter of minutes, your actions violated the trust that we, as a department, spent years trying to build and maintain.
Of course, Saulet didn’t take the investigation lightly. He and his union, the King County Police Officers’ Guild, called the whole process a ‘witch hunt.’ And even after his commander and the deputy sheriff recommended termination, he went so far as to appeal that recommendation in a hearing in front of the sheriff. It’s possible they will appeal this decision as well, but Urquhart says nothing has crossed his desk yet.
For his part, Holden says he is “not gleeful that Saulet got fired,” but that the decision is “welcome evidence that Urquhart takes complaints seriously.”