Police Ruse 'Shocked the Conscience': Report

Seattle officer made up a story to track down a hit-and-run suspect
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2020 1:00 PM CST
Police Ruse 'Shocked the Conscience': Report
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

A Seattle police officer who apparently used a ruse for "fun" may have contributed to a man's suicide, CNN reports. An internal police probe says it all began when two officers approached a West Seattle woman's house in 2018 to ask about her connection with a man who had driven away from a fender bender. As they walked up, one officer said he had a ruse to sniff out the hit-and-run suspect: "It's a lie, but it's fun," he said, per the Office of Police Accountability report. At the home, the officer said the suspect—who had used the woman's address in registering his car—had critically injured someone in the accident who "might not survive." The woman was "clearly emotionally affected" by the officer's words and contacted the suspect, who didn't seem concerned at first.

After all, it was just a fender bender. But the suspect eventually became disconsolate and feared he "had hit and killed someone but that he did not remember it. ... [he] was freaking out," a friend told the OPA, per the Seattle Times. The man, apparently a former heroin addict, then killed himself in June 2018. Now the OPA's civilian director blames the suicide on the officer's actions and said the ruse "shocked the conscience." But the cop, who was suspended for six days, said the ruse "was needed" for "a criminal investigation," and while the suicide is "regrettable," the officer "was not ultimately responsible." If you're contemplating suicide or know anyone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. (Read more suicide stories.)

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