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King County Sheriff’s Detective Who Pulled Gun On Motorcycle Rider Gets 5-Day Suspension
Rider is not amused

April 17, 2018

CLICK TO ENLARGE: King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht at the news conference on Monday. Photo, YouTube

CLICK TO ENLARGE: Still image from GoPro camera operated by motorcycle rider showing KC Sheriff detective in plainclothes pointing gun at motorcycle rider. Photo: YouTube
Chronicle staff
By B. Tanner

(SEATTLE, WA.) – He did something wrong that day by pulling his boom-stick on a young motorcycle rider, but the sheriff’s office detective won’t be fired.

A plainclothes King County Sheriff's Office detective named Richard Rowe, who pulled his gun on a motorcyclist during a traffic confrontation last August will get a 5-day suspension without pay, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht announced Monday at a news conference.

In what appeared to some observers as a rather strange act on the part of Rowe, an act of unnecessary aggression and a fair amount of rudeness, Rowe pulled a gun out during the confrontation that was recorded that day by the rider, Alex Randall on his helmet-camera.

At the news conference the sheriff said she was, “Disappointed in Detective Rowe's behavior, and that it isn't acceptable and Detective Rowe in his later meeting with me admitted to that. He is apologetic for his behavior and believes that he was wrong in using that behavior."

So his punishment will be five days suspension with no pay – one half of the punishment the sheriff's department internal investigators recommended.

Johanknecht admitted that Rowe violated the department's policy on courtesy and engaged in conduct unbecoming a deputy. However she did not believe Rowe used excessive force when he pulled out his gun explaining that, "He thought by movements made by Mr. Randall that he might have a firearm across the front of his waistband area, by his hands and arms reaching down.”

The day before the announcement from Sheriff Johanknecht on what Rowe's punishment would be, Randall told a Seattle TV station, KING 5-TV he was concerned that the sheriff's office would try to point the finger of blame at him for the incident: “The only way to defend this is basically attack me,” Randall told the TV station adding that the sheriff’s office had to attack him, “Because his actions are indefensible."

Rowe, who at the time of the incident was assigned to the Woodinville Police Department as a detective, has been with the Sheriff’s Office for two decades. The city of Woodinville has a contract with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services.

When the sheriff’s office learned of the video, then sheriff John Urquhart ordered the incident to be investigated and “the detective to be relieved of duty," said Sergeant Cindi West of the Sheriff's Office at the time.

The Incident

The incident revolves around a video posted to YouTube by Randall who says he recorded it with a GoPro camera. He claims Rowe pulled a gun on him while he was out riding his motorcycle on August 16, 2017.

Randall believes the manner in which Rowe confronted him and pulled the gun was uncalled for and way over the top – needlessly threatening to a citizen.

In an introduction to the video that is on YouTube Ranndall wrote, “This video shows the boldness of the King County Sheriffs Deputies and lack of fear of repercussions in threatening and intimidating an unarmed citizen with excessive use of force."

The video clip shows Randall pulling his bike up to a stop light. A man in street clothes (Rowe) can be seen walking up to the left side of the motorcycle with a gun pulled close to his chest and pointed at Randall.

The man is not seen displaying a badge immediately or immediately identifying himself as a law officer.

Randall is heard on the audio portion of the video saying, “What are you doing to me?”

“What do you mean what am I doing?” the man with the gun responds. “You’re f**king driving reckless. Give me your driver’s license or I’m going to knock you off this bike.”

Randall said, "I will pull over. I am unarmed."

At one point the man with the gun reaches into Randall’s front pants pocket. He takes out Randall’s wallet to get his identification.

“I’m sorry. You have a gun drawn on me, so I’m a little panicked,” Randall says to which the man responds, “You’re right, because I’m the police. When you’re driving and you’re going to place people at risk at 100 miles an hour plus on the God dang roadway.”

In writing at the end of the video Randall claimed he was not traveling 100 miles per hour. He wrote that the man's comment was a fabrication and an exaggeration.'

KING-TV reported that Randall showed up at the sheriff's office on Monday hoping to get into that news conference but a KCSO spokesperson turned him away saying the event was only for media.



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