16 Seattle Cops Facing Decertification
Sixteen Seattle police officers are currently slated for decertification hearings in the coming years, according to the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Most are facing decertification for dishonesty, but a few were terminated due to substance abuse, bias, or criminal charges.
Though several officers separated from the department five years ago or more—the oldest case is 2015—the paperwork to begin revocation proceedings wasn’t filed until the fall of 2020, according to CJTC records. Some were terminated, but others retired or resigned before disciplinary investigations concluded.
Officers can be decertified for felonies, gross misdemeanor domestic violence, or crimes committed for the “purposes of sexual gratification.”
Knight pled guilty to gross misdemeanor assault in 2017 and received probation for a string of groping incidents that occurred while he worked in the training department. The earliest incident was reported in 2007, according to documents from the King County prosecutor’s office. One of his victims testified that he groped her or made suggestive comments about her appearance around 40 times. Knight’s decertification hearing is expected sometime this year, though the CJTC still lists it as “TBD.”
Based on testimony and text messages from Fitzgerald’s friend, the OPA determined that the former lieutenant was abusing methamphetamines. Fitzgerald’s buddy also complained that Fitzgerald stole his laptop. While his friend never saw Fitzgerald use in uniform, one SPD sergeant told OPA that he appeared to be high at least once on duty because his behavior was “strange and paranoid” while working the Martin Luther King Day demo one year.
A teenage girl told OPA that Conway was purchasing and using Oxycontin from her mother. OPA was able to corroborate the girl’s story using phone records. Through the investigation, OPA was also able to determine that Conway had previously been dishonest in an earlier investigation into his substance abuse.
An officer can have their certification revoked for statements and actions that signal discrimination based on “race, religion, creed, color, national origin, immigration status, disability, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status.”
In 2020, Tisdale was fired for referring to a Black man as “that Kunta Kinte motherfucker,” a reference to a character from the TV series Roots. Other officers confronted him about it but didn’t report it until they got together and decided they might get in trouble for failing to.
Novisedlak was terminated in 2020 after his ex produced multiple text messages with racist and homophobic insults about his coworkers. These included texts referring to one officer as a “lazy Mexican,” a Black sergeant as a “monkey,” and another Black officer as “that angry Black lesbian.” His former girlfriend also alleged that Novisedlak was physically abusive. The official reason listed for his decertification hearing is domestic violence. Several years before, Novisedlak wrongfully arrested an innocent Black man for a heinous crime based on misusing a photo array.
Constantin was fired in the fall of 2022 for tweets sent from his pseudonymous Twitter account. Constantin mocked a grieving mother and celebrated George Floyd’s death as “justice.” He also endorsed violence against protestors. He had multiple red flags in his disciplinary file, including an incident where he punched out a window of a vehicle and failed to report it.
False or Intentionally Misleading Statements
Dishonesty is by far the most common reason for decertification statewide. Washington state law allows for decertification if an officer has been “terminated by the employing agency or otherwise separated from the employing agency after knowingly making, or found by a court to have knowingly made, misleading, deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations.”
The following Seattle officers are facing decertification for dishonesty:
In 2017, Decker was investigated for working off-duty as a security officer without permission in violation of a direct order from his lieutenant. During the investigation, Decker told investigators that he hadn’t worked on days when he had. The Office of Police Accountability acquired his working schedule from his secondary employer, demonstrating that he made false statements, and SPD terminated Decker.
Kolding had a beef with one of his coworkers that involved dueling OPA complaints. During that dispute, Kolding sent an insulting letter describing the officer as a “receptionist” and suggested he take a job with the Telephone Reporting Unit. Kolding denied sending the letter, but latent fingerprint analysis pulled matching prints. Funnily enough, 30 minutes after the notice of the investigation was sent, the latent prints unit got a call from a male caller asking if the LPU did analysis for OPA cases. Kolding retired before discipline could be issued.
Elliott attempted to defraud the SPD retirement disability system with a false claim of catastrophic disability in 2015. After he filed a disability claim, the department put him under surveillance and observed him doing things he claimed he couldn’t do, such as walking without impairment and loading heavy bags of animal feed and buckets of water into his car. Elliott resigned before he could be terminated.
Jones was investigated for using SPD’s mobile data terminal to cyberstalk her ex and the woman he was seeing, also an SPD employee, in violation of a court anti-harassment order. According to the OPA investigation, Jones “represented facts either inaccurately or incompletely or omitted facts not favorable to her during her OPA interview and in her representations to the Court.” Jones appealed her termination in 2021 but withdrew her appeal.
Martin did a hit-and-run while in an SPD cruiser. He subsequently responded to the call for service by the driver of the vehicle he hit and attempted to persuade her not to file a police report. Based on Martin’s rambling, inconsistent explanation of his actions, OPA ruled that he had been dishonest. In another OPA case that was decided after Martin was terminated, he was again found dishonest in a minor dispute with his commanding officer about his uniform.
Alexander and Caitlin Everett
The Everetts, a couple of married officers, went on their honeymoon to Trump’s Stop the Steal rally on January 6 along with four other SPD officers. They were the only two of the six who were definitively proven to have trespassed on the Capitol grounds during the riots. The Everetts denied being aware of any illegal activity, a claim contradicted by video and cellphone evidence placing them at the heart of the riots. Though they were terminated due to law violations, they are facing decertification based on false statements to the OPA.
Potential Future Decertifications
Though proceedings haven’t been initiated, two more recently terminated officers will likely be decertified in the next few years.
Lopez-Ojeda was terminated in the fall for a 2020 incident in which she assaulted her domestic partner, also an SPD officer, at the home of another officer while intoxicated. Though the Snohomish County prosecutor dismissed charges against Lopez-Ojeda, the assault was witnessed by three Seattle police officers, not including the victim. DV assault is grounds for decertification.
OPA recommended termination for Gandy after his friends told investigators that he provided protection for their interstate narcotics operation. Though charges were never filed against Gandy, OPA determined that there was evidence that he was, at the very least aware of his friend’s criminal conduct and did nothing. According to the OPA report, Gandy transferred to another department before the investigation concluded and may be currently working as an officer.
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