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Idle officers took 23 minutes to respond to a shooting a mile away
Officers told dispatch they were en route but remained parked at the SPOG office. By the time they got there, the victim and suspect were long gone.
Three officers are under investigation for their delayed response to a shooting outside the Showbox SODO in mid-December. According to police records, 911 received a call from Showbox security at 1:26 a.m. on Dec. 18, 2022. Officers Clark Dickson and Jason Atofau were parked a mile up the road at the office of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild. Student Officer Torian Koonce was riding with Dickson, his field training officer.
The officers told dispatch that they were en route at 1:27 a.m. About 40 seconds later, Officer Atofau told the dispatcher that he and Dickson would take the call and that dispatch shouldn’t send more officers.
Dispatch continued sending the officers updates. Multiple witnesses on the scene either saw or heard the shot. Though they could not find an injured victim, one witness told dispatch they saw “blood on one male that took off running southbound on 1st Ave [in the direction of where the officers were parked].”
According to the GPS, Dickson and Koonce didn’t leave the SPOG office for nearly 21 minutes after that. Atofau left one minute after them. Both officers had arrived by 1:51 a.m. Dickson cleared the call as “Disturbance, Other. Assistance Rendered” at 1:54 a.m. and radioed dispatch to say, “Security guard’s got it on lockdown there. Everything looks fine so far.”
About an hour later, a man arrived at Harborview Medical Center with a bullet wound in his arm. He told staff he was injured in a shooting at the Showbox SODO. The SPD blotter briefly described the incident, though the details about the officers’ slow response are obscured. The final report, drafted by Student Officer Koonce, falsely states that the officers “responded” at 1:26 a.m., when the 911 call came in.
Though the investigation only focuses on their slow response and allegations that the officers attempted to cover it up, the investigator’s preliminary findings also imply that they drove at high speeds when they ultimately responded.
The Google Maps estimate of the time it should take to drive 1.1 miles from the SPOG office to the Showbox SODO is about four minutes. The GPS shows that both SPD vehicles made the trip in about a minute, indicating that they averaged speeds of 60 mph—or at least twice the posted speed limit on 1st Ave S.
According to the OPA Intake report, in-car video from the cruiser containing Dickson and Koonce exists, but the investigator did not observe whether they had their emergency lights and sirens activated.
Dickson has an extensive disciplinary history, with four sustained findings since 2013, including a one-day suspension for punching a homeless man in the face because he spat on the ground when Dickson asked him not to. The man sued and settled with the city for $70,000.
Atofau was suspended for three days for accidentally firing an AirSoft gun inside his cruiser and failing to report the damage. Both have additional active investigations for unrelated misconduct allegations.
Dickson and Atofau were among the nearly 50 patrol officers who cleared $200,000 in 2022. Hired in 2004, Dickson made $211,000, $79,000 of which was overtime. Atofau, hired in 2005, made $315,000, including $182,000 in overtime. He made more than Chief Adrian Diaz.
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