SEATTLE — Two of the six Seattle police officers who attended former President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal" rally in Washington D.C. in January should be fired for their participation, the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) found.
The oversight committee examined whether six officers who attended the rally, which led to an insurrection within the U.S. Capitol, violated law or policy. Two of those officers violated Seattle Police Department (SPD) policy and D.C. law when they stood next to the Capitol in a “clearly-prohibited area.”
Video shows the officers smiling while near the Capitol as rioters stormed the building, according to the oversight committee.
“That they were direct witnesses to people defiling the seat of American democracy and assaulting fellow law enforcement officers – and did nothing – makes this all the more egregious,” said OPA Director Andrew Myerberg.
Three of the officers who were in the area on Jan. 6 did not violate department policy or engage in illegal activity, according to the oversight committee. The officers’ attendance is protected by the First Amendment, and the “officers’ presence at this rally was absolutely protected by the Constitution.”
The oversight committee could not establish whether a sixth Seattle officer violated SPD policy.
Any discipline for the two officers must be determined by the chief of police.
In January, Seattle Police Interim Chief Adrian Diaz said in a blog post he would immediately fire any officers directly involved in the Capitol riots.
Diaz is expected to issue his disciplinary decision within 30 days of OPA's recommendation.
The Seattle Community Police Commission, which provides input on police reform, applauded the recommendation. It also said the incident highlighted concerns about extremism in the department and urged Diaz to take action.
"The extent of SPD officers’ involvement in the insurrection is a wake-up call," the commission said in a statement. "The CPC demands SPD transparently and aggressively address extremism within the ranks."
Washington state lawmakers also chimed in Thursday after hearing news of the OPA's report. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who represents most of Seattle, said in a statement, "Every person involved in the deadliest attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 must be held fully accountable. This investigation is an important step towards justice."
Rep. Kim Schrier, who represents parts of King and Pierce counties, said in a statement, "What I can tell you as somebody who was there on January 6th is that it was really scary and that nobody should be pushing our Capitol police around."
Several people from Washington state have faced federal charges for their participation in the deadly riot at the Capitol. Mark Leffingwell was indicted for allegedly striking an officer. Others from Washington state who have faced federal charges in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach are Ethan Nordean, also known as Rufio Panman, of Renton; Taylor Johnatakis of Kingston; and Jeffrey Grace of Battle Ground. Nordean is also the Seattle-chapter "Sergeant of Arms" of the Proud Boys group.
On June 30, the House approved a select committee will investigate the insurrection. The panel will be led by Democrats, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointing a chairperson and at least eight of the committee's 13 members. The resolution gives Pelosi a possible say in the appointment of the other five members as well, directing that they will be named “after consultation” with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.