Similar Crimes, Different Times

Similar Crimes, Different Times

A Black law enforcement agency in Washington is arguing that white detectives involved in a similar crime as African-American officer should receive similar, not less punishment.

Published July 13, 2011

An African-American advocacy group is criticizing prosecutors for bringing an assault charge against a Black Seattle police officer in an off-duty brawl and not charging two white officers who stomped a Latino suspect in another, similar incident with the same charges.


The Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington is calling the charge against officer Garth Haynes, “demonstrative of the disparate treatment” Blacks incur in the criminal justice system.”


Haynes was charged last week for stomping on the head of a handcuffed man outside of a bar in December. According to the police report he was the victim of an attack earlier that morning outside of an area nightclub where a white male made “very racist comments” that resulted in Haynes being treated for a concussion and black eye.  


The King County’s prosecutor concluded that there was insufficient evidence to file a hate-crime charges against the men, but is charging Hayes with 4th degree assault.


Though the association does not condone Haynes’ inappropriate actions, they do believe that charges should be brought against two officers who stomped and threatened to beat the “Mexican piss” out of a man suspected of robbery. In April, Detective Shandy Cobane and his partners were captured on video stomping on a Latino man’s head and feet. Witnesses also heard Cobane utter racial slurs. It was later deemed that the man was not involved in a crime.


Cobane was suspended for only 30 days without pay and another officer was disciplined for failing to report what she observed.


“The only difference I can think of is race. There’s no other way to explain it,” Carlos Bratcher, president of the Black Law Enforcement Association told a local station. “We feel that both the black officer and the white officer did something out of pocket and should be held to the same level of accountability. But this was not the case.”


The city’s attorney’s office is calling the facts in each case “different.”


"We take this on a case-by-case basis," Kimberly Mills, City Attorney Pete Holmes’ spokesperson told the Seattle Times. "We're not sending a message here. We're evaluating them one by one."


Officer Haynes will face a maximum of one-year in jail and $5,000 in fines if he is convicted.



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(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Written by Danielle Wright


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