Police Officer Who Threatened to Arrest Seattle Newspaper Editor Fired


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.

Another two photos snapped by Holden, showing officers Saulet (left) and Marion (right) getting becoming agitated with him.

Photos taken by Holden showing officers Saulet (left) and Marion (right) getting becoming agitated with him.

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.”

(via Reddit)

Image credit: Seattle Police Office by City of Seattle. Photos of officers Saulet and Marion by Dominic Holden.

  • Bart van der Horst

    I keep hoping that Petapixel is not becoming a newsagent.

  • Woody ONeal

    is this NOT newsworthy in the photographic arena?

  • David Liang

    It’s unbelievable that it took 120 allegations, 21 of which sustained plus all the media attention on Holden’s particular case, for this office to be fired from the job. I understand giving benefit of the doubt and other factors come into play, but if this is the line then I think it’s a bit far. But I am relieved to see there is a conclusion to this case that seems befitting the circumstances, and I really hope this will send a message to other officers who’ve made it a habit to mistreat citizens.

  • Sean Walsh

    Attention police officers of N. America: a precedent has been set. Let photographers take pictures in public spaces.

  • Trevor

    Because, unions.

  • David Liang

    Hmm, that’s really good point.

  • Sarpent

    A story about a photographer being harassed by police for taking pictures isn’t newsworthy in the photographic arena? I don’t think that works well as a general statement. This isn’t just a gear site.

  • SeoulFood

    It took more than 700 burn victims of McDonalds’ hot coffee before they had to pay out. The justice system is and always has been broken.

  • K S B

    Blaming the justice system and McDonald’s for spilled coffee due to your lack of common sense and intelligence is idiotic.

  • Jetsetter23

    Not all unions are bad. And they aren’t what makes the justice system broken. You cheapen the conversation by stating something so simplistic and untrue. If there were a union for photographers, perhaps we wouldn’t constantly have our rights stomped on.

  • Chris Cheek

    Good..Tired of police acting like that..

  • Bart van der Horst

    It is newsworthy in the gutter press area. Not in Petapixel.

  • Victor Biro

    I suspect you’re not a photojournalist covering breaking news, or if you are…well…I don’t know what to say that isn’t going to seem snarky. Woops.

  • Bart van der Horst

    Well for your sake I hope Petapixel will be overposted with this kind of news. So you can be happy. You really want petapixel to be this kind of website? With this kind of news?

    Really? Well good for you and good luck with your snarkyness. Make a good picture of it, perhaps it will be the next gutter news flash on this otherwise very inspirational site.

  • Victor Biro

    Bart, why so hostile, and why the use of the pejorative “gutter news flash”?

    Do you not read newspapers, or magazines?

    How do you suppose those pictures of news events get in these publications? They get there through the work of Dominic Holden, and in spite of people like ‘K.C.’ Saulet.

    There are frequent problems with police engaging in the behaviour outlined here, and this story is relevant to photojournalists.

    PetaPixel, like any publication, has diverse content that appeals to a diverse group of photographers. If you’re not interested, then don’t read it. I am sure that I have done that with some of the articles that you’ve been delighted to read.

  • pgb0517

    It is newsworthy for anybody who cares about freedom. Take your head out of the sand.

  • SeoulFood

    Guess McDonalds conned you just like the rest of the American people. Actually look up the case, see what really happened before McDonalds’ gag order, then judge for yourself.

  • Middle Class Observer

    He doesn’t have his head in the sand, pgb0517… He’s just a thinly disguised fascist. The loaded pejorative was not a slip — he said precisely what he meant, and succeeded in getting his message across to kind of people with whom he identifies… and also to those whose persistant victimization he enjoys. Better intentioned folks ought not to make excuses for his type, even implied ones.

  • Tman1966

    Please: One thing that journalists, and photojournalists, need to do is ensure accuracy. The photo accompanying this article shows the Seattle PD. The officer in question works for the King County Sheriff. Two entirely separate departments. Pretty sloppy.

  • Middle Class Observer

    No, it’s entirely believable.

  • Middle Class Observer

    This goes way beyond just the harassment of journalists or hobbyists — it’s broader in scope and much more profound in its harm than that, Chris. And even more to the point, as a matter of public policy concern, this deep social problem is pervasively institutionalized, particularly so in such mean spirited times as those in which we find ourselves.

    This guy is not simply a “bad apple” — note the approval and enabling support of his partner. He just finally became too much of an embarrassment and liability to others whose main interests are proactively insulating themselves and keeping on with business as usual… by which I mean an agenda not so very consistent with the broader public interest and the promotion of the general welfare. Anyone claiming to be “conservative” of the founding principles ought to be deeply concerned about civil rights and the perfecting of equal protection under the law… on a daily basis.

  • JReagan

    Seattle PD is a big part of the whole story, the one who got fired was with the Sheriffs department. I wouldn’t consider it out of place to use an image that says Seattle Police in a story that involves multiple police agencies.

    Maybe it’s just sloppy reading…

  • bob cooley

    Its a site dedicated to information and news about photography, whether it is gear, rumors, news, political issues, etc. Its a general site. Would you have them post yet more advertorials about the latest and (not) greatest Lomo products?

    Most of us here are interested in the issues that affect us as professionals and enthusiasts who actively make images.

  • bob cooley

    Right, because real issues in photography don’t matter – we need MANY more articles on creating ‘amazing’ ‘awesome’ images with sparklers tied to strings… (/sarcasm)

  • Matt

    Isn’t McDondalds case a civil case? This one is criminal. So, different?

  • Matt

    I hate to see someone lose their job, but it does appear to be the correct action. And, it is sad that someone cannot take advantage of their training. I can see giving a police officers chances to reform as their job is hard and they are human, and I respect that. But, he did not.

    The police need to be held accountable for all of their actions, because we give them the power to arrest, detain and use deadly force. We have to ensure that none of those powers are abused in any way. No one is above the law, and you can’t break
    laws while enforcing the law.

  • Alex

    How dare this mere mundane Holden try to question and record our tax eating betters in blue, our best of the best, our couragous public servants in government jumpsuits – while at least 7 of them risk their precious all important lives totally outmatched by 1 hippie looking kid reading book?

  • SeoulFood

    I believe this ^^^ isn’t even a case yet.

  • Tman98103

    I knew about this story before it arrived on PetaPixel. I’ve lived in Seattle for 30+ years, and I have a relative on a regional police agency that Interacts with the KC Sheriff’s Department. The Seattle PD is not “a big part” of this story. This story does not involve
    “multiple agencies.” (And it’s not “sloppy reading.”)
    The Seattle Police Department has had a host of problems with officer
    behavior; you can Google it for more info. But this officer is with the King County Sheriff’s Department.
    It is an entirely different agency, covering a different and much larger geographical
    area, and has a totally separate administration and command structure.
    King County has its main jail in downtown Seattle — in fact, it’s very
    close to where the incident with the Seattle Stranger reporter took
    place — and you will often see KC sheriff’s deputies in that area of
    Seattle. But they are not the same law enforcement agencies.

    use of a photo showing Seattle PD Headquarters is misleading, and should be

  • Simon Phoenix

    im sure he will have a job again soon… there are plenty of areas around the country who dont believe in the US constitution! pardon the crappy grammer. lol

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  • Richard Ford

    Do US cops not have monthly fitness tests that they must pass?

  • pgb0517

    Not mental fitness, apparently.

  • SeoulFood

    Liebeck v. McDonalds was a product liability case. Not sure if that falls under civil or criminal.

  • K S B

    I know about the Stella Leibeck case. I still think it is still your fault if you hurt yourself for spilling hot coffee on your own lap. Blaming it on others just does not make sense to me.

  • SeoulFood

    The jury agreed. Leibeck was found to be 50% at fault for being clumsy and McDonalds was found 50% at fault for making their coffee too hot – 180*-190*.

  • Gerald Thomas

    Jetsetter 23 – Do you want to pay someone else for the “privilige” of making photos? If you have a union you’ll be paying dues and they will be calling the shots. Been a photog (lots of pr, but not paparazzi) for over 40 years and have never felt the need for that. Stand up for yourself!! Never surrender your camera, especially to the cops – except at gunpoint. Run like hell if you can – only time I’d suggest running from the cops. Record on video and audio if possible.

  • Gerald Thomas

    They don’t “Let” us – the courts have held that it’s our right. The message should be Let us alone while we’re making our photos – unless we are truly in the way, or it’s truly dangerous for us to be there. We’d really like to get along with the police. If we do, they may help us get a good shot. They aren’t the enemy; an unfortunate few are consumed with perceived power over others, giving the majority a black eye.

  • Al Borrelli

    Broken in general, or broken in comparison to something better?
    Would love to see how you feel about the vast majority of the rest of the world’s justice system.
    Step out of the bubble friend.

  • SeoulFood

    Why? I don’t live in another country, so I don’t worry about fixing their laws. Why should I sit around and worry about other country’s laws when we have our own problems here? If everyone here focused on our own laws instead of spreading ourselves too thin, maybe progress could happen faster. This is how women gained the right to vote and the civil rights movement happened – late in both cases, but still too slow.