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Cop gets lengthy suspension for sending unwanted messages to woman
Seattle police officer Marcus Jones sent Instagram messages to a woman hours after meeting her on a DV call and followed her using an alt account once she blocked him.
Seattle police Officer Marcus Jones violated SPD policy by sending unwanted messages to a woman he met on the job, according to a report released by the Office of Police Accountability on Friday. The OPA’s recommended discipline ranged from a 25-day suspension to termination, but Chief Adrian Diaz ultimately suspended the officer for 270 hours.
In November 2021, Jones and another officer responded to a 911 call by a man who said his ex-girlfriend was stalking and harassing him. His current girlfriend was also present during the call. According to the complaint, the response was unremarkable, and Jones behaved professionally. The officers took a statement and left a DV pamphlet.
However, the caller’s girlfriend received messages on Instagram from Jones a few hours later:
Though she considered Jones’ messages “unprofessional and an abuse of [his] law enforcement authority,” the woman initially decided against filing a complaint. She thought blocking Jones would be enough, but she wondered if he had acted similarly toward other women.
Months later, in May 2022, she received a follow request from an unknown account and recognized Jones’ picture. The woman blocked Jones again and initiated the complaint.
In his OPA interview, Jones claimed he recognized the woman. He said he found her by searching through his ex-girlfriend’s Instagram profile, but she denied ever having met him before that day.
“I was just trying to be forthcoming. I am a police officer who just responded to their house, and I was just trying to be upfront about who I was,” Jones told OPA. “I was trying to make it the least creepy and the least weird I could possibly make it.”
He said he contacted her out of curiosity because he thought he knew her and wanted to “see if that was the person.” When asked why he followed her again, Jones said he was just following users Instagram suggested. He claims to have unfollowed her after realizing who she was.
OPA found Jones’ explanations unconvincing. “While [Jones] told OPA he was merely curious about whether the Complainant knew his ex-girlfriend, at no point during his roughly 40-minutes on-scene did he simply ask her,” OPA wrote. “Instead, in the shadows, outside the presence of the Complainant’s boyfriend and WE#1, [Jones] sheepishly crept into the Complainant's Instagram direct messages.”
According to the report, Jones’ use of particular emojis belied his claims: “If [Jones] had pure motives, it is unclear why he ‘(felt) bad following (the Complainant)’ and used a grinning face with sweat emoji, indicating nervousness.”
Other SPD officers have been suspended or terminated for similar behavior. In 2016, Officer Micah Smith sent unwanted text messages to an EMT he had often interacted with. Smith obtained her phone number from police records and even claimed that he had involuntarily committed people just to get an opportunity to see her again. Smith received an eight-day suspension. According to the most recent roster DivestSPD has obtained, he is still employed by SPD.
A year before, Officer Peter Leutz was terminated for sending hundreds of unwanted messages to women he met while on the job. Leutz was later investigated for unlawful imprisonment while working as an Uber driver, prompting another woman to come forward with claims that Leutz was abusive and had violent sexual fantasies.
Another officer, Daniel Aguirre, was investigated for “converting a police contact with a Domestic Violence (DV) victim into a romantic relationship” and helping her recover disputed property from her ex-boyfriend’s home. He received a training referral. In a similar case, Officer Charles Miller began dating a woman he arrested. He also received a training referral.
Officer Andrew Swartz has been on paid administrative leave for nearly two years while under investigation for allegedly using police systems to stalk and harass his ex-girlfriend.
Jones is a relatively recent hire. He started his academy training in 2020 and was featured in local news stories about an email he wrote to Carmen Best when she announced her resignation that Best claims “moved her to tears.”
Best used Jones as an example of the type of officers she hoped to hire and to illustrate how the “Defund the Police” movement would supposedly undermine the department’s efforts to reform and diversify. This was a core component of SPD’s media strategy in 2020, as newly revealed records show.
In a press conference, Best described Jones as a “great young man,” adding that “he is one of the people that will probably not keep a job here. And that, for me - I'm done, can't do it.”
The officer has two active OPA investigations under case numbers 2022OPA-0280 and 2022OPA-0208 for using force and vehicle operation. He made $125,000, $22,000 of which was overtime.
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