A viral tweet from a Seattle-area ER nurse is just one example of police officers refusing to abide by state and county public health orders.

One maskless Seattle police officer wearing sunglasses and a bike helmet attempts to stare down a protester.
One maskless Seattle police officer wearing sunglasses and a bike helmet attempts to stare down a protester.
SEATTLE, WA — A protester and police officer argue in Downtown Seattle. (PHOTO: Mike Scaturo)

Over the past week, the latest controversy involving the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has gained widespread social media attention. If you’ve attended a protest, rally, or had an interaction with a Seattle police officer since the COVID-19 pandemic began, this story is unlikely to surprise you.

Hundreds of images, videos, and first-hand accounts of officers not wearing face coverings while on duty have circulated online, with those concerns largely falling on deaf ears among SPD leadership. …


The Office of Police Accountability previously recommended Seattle police revise and add clarification to their de-escalation policy. They declined.

SEATTLE, WA — Seattle police tape off the scene after Derek Hayden was shot and killed by Seattle police officers on February 18th, 2021 at The Seattle Waterfront. (PHOTO: Mike Scaturo)

On February 16th, officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) responded to reports of a suicidal man, walking along The Seattle Waterfront with a knife to his throat. Less than 20 seconds after SPD arrived at the scene, the man’s body laid motionless in the road, killed by officers.

In an initial statement, SPD stated that “police attempted to use a less-lethal tool, but the device was ineffective. The man moved toward officers, and two Seattle Police officers fired, fatally striking the man.” …


After a multi-day community defense effort, Seattle police made 24 arrests as protesters, activists, and community members attempted to prevent the removal of the encampment.

Two officers in riot gear, on with a pepper ball gun walk past an orange and grey tent in Cal Anderson Park.
Two officers in riot gear, on with a pepper ball gun walk past an orange and grey tent in Cal Anderson Park.
SEATTLE, WA — DECEMBER 18TH, 2020: Seattle police in riot gear clear Cal Anderson Park (Photo: Mike Scaturo)

As COVID-19 surges and temperatures drop, the City of Seattle removed the Cal Anderson encampment early Friday morning. Dozens of officers in riot gear, accompanied by SWAT officers and armored vehicles, entered the park around 7:30am, giving orders for all occupants of the park to disperse or face arrest.

Shortly thereafter, Seattle police began their raid of the park, cutting through the barricades with chainsaws, and shooting pepper balls at activists as they cleared the area. Seattle police arrested 21 people.


A federal judge had found four clear instances where Seattle Police violated court orders.

Seattle Police officer wearing a gas mask stands as a protester wearing a ball cap looks on.
Seattle Police officer wearing a gas mask stands as a protester wearing a ball cap looks on.
SEATTLE, WA — JULY 25TH, 2020: A protester looks on as Seattle Police officers establish a line at 11th & Pine in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. (Photo: Mike Scaturo)

UPDATE [12/21/20] — This story has been updated to include the City of Seattle’s response to requested sanctions by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and ACLU of Washington.

UPDATE [1/28/21] Judge Jones largely denies Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County’s requests for sanctions they believe would improve transparency and accountability in SPD. The ruling only forces the city to compensate BLMSKC for legal fees, at a reduced rate. SCC Insight has more details on the ruling:

On Friday, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and ACLU of Washington submitted a list of proposed sanctions to Judge Richard Jones after the…

Mike Scaturo

Freelance Photographer and Journalist based in Seattle, Washington — @mikescaturo

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