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Mechanic says Seattle officer tried to stiff him on repairs, 'slammed' badge on counter
SPD Officer Oriane McKenzie attempted to take back his truck without paying for more than $500 in repair work.
A Seattle police officer is under investigation for allegedly attempting to steal services from an auto repair shop in Kent and using his position as a police officer to intimidate the owner, according to OPA records obtained by DivestSPD.
Last December, officer Oriane McKenzie needed repairs on his truck’s brakes. Though the mechanic usually does an in-person inspection before starting repairs, McKenzie insisted that he provide an estimate over the phone, the shop owner told Kent police. Working purely off McKenzie’s description of the issue, the owner estimated it would cost $540 to repair.
McKenzie’s friend dropped the truck off and picked it up the same day. The shop owner said he could only repair the cylinder on one side because the other side was so rusted that the mechanic was concerned about damaging the brake line.
When McKenzie’s friend returned to get the truck, he was surprised to learn that the mechanic had only replaced the cylinder on one side but was charging the full estimated cost.
The owner provided an itemized list of parts and labor charges, explaining that there were additional costs associated with cleaning the rust, repairing leaks, and replacing a missing brake pad on the right rear side. The shop replaced the brake shoes on both sides and the right cylinder. The only requested work not done was the left cylinder replacement, he said.
McKenzie spoke with the owner over the phone and demanded that he turn over the keys to his friend without payment. The owner refused and said he wouldn’t release the truck until the total amount was paid. McKenzie went to the shop the next day.
The owner tried to explain the bill to him but said McKenzie wouldn’t look at the work summary. He said only “half of the job” was done, so he wasn’t paying. When the shop wouldn’t return his keys, McKenzie purportedly “slammed” his badge on the counter, the owner told Kent police, adding that McKenzie never identified himself as a police officer.
Kent police asked the owner why he believed McKenzie presented his badge, and he replied: “No idea. Maybe to scare me? He put it away right afterward. I thought he was joking or trying to scare me to give him the keys or something.”
McKenzie used his spare keys to take back his truck without paying. The owner and McKenzie called the Kent police at roughly the same time to report the incident. McKenzie also drove to the police station to ask the police to mediate the dispute.
The sergeant on duty told McKenzie that it was a civil matter, explaining that the shop had the right to withhold his keys for non-payment (McKenzie did not tell him that he had already recovered his truck using the spare keys).
According to the police report, the sergeant said he would not send officers because it would “come across as intimidating the business owner to acquiesce to the demands of the customer.” He suggested paying the total amount and settling the dispute in small claims court.
It’s also noteworthy that McKenzie name-dropped two Kent police officers he knew from the police academy.
After McKenzie left the station, two other Kent police officers contacted him, unaware of his conversation with the sergeant. The officers accompanied McKenzie to the auto shop, where the owner offered to reduce the charges to $500, deducting the extra labor. McKenzie countered that he would pay half “to be fair.” The owner reluctantly accepted $260 for the work.
McKenzie was involved in another incident a month earlier in which he showed up at the Tukwila police headquarters just before midnight to ask the TPD if they would allow him to park his truck in the secure lot. He said his parents’ neighbors slashed his tires but didn’t want to file a police report. The police considered this strange because he identified as a police officer and had a known suspect.
At roughly the same time, another man appeared at the station, saying that McKenzie and his friends chased him from South Seattle because they thought he slashed their tires. He said McKenzie pointed a gun at him and threatened to “slaughter” him.
McKenzie had a holstered weapon when police interviewed him. An OPA detective reviewed the station’s surveillance camera and noted that it showed McKenzie “reaching towards his waistband, then pointing a dark object in the direction of [the man’s] parked vehicle.” The surveillance footage is taken from a distance, and the OPA detective does not state definitively that the “dark object” is a gun.
These two cases are currently being investigated under case numbers 2022OPA-0385 and 2022OPA-0427. Both cases have passed the 180-day investigation deadline set in the SPOG contract. OPA commonly extends deadlines in agreement with the police guild. McKenzie was hired in 2021. Last year, he made nearly $117,000 in gross pay, including $21,000 in overtime.