SEATTLE - New details have emerged about a number of recent arrests connected to arsons and violence against Seattle police officers spanning the past two months. Dozens have already been charged, sometimes connected to demonstrations and suspects have been accused of serious crimes.
Leadership at SPD say the number of shootings and homicides are breaking records across the city, and budget cuts could mean layoffs are in store at the department.
Two people most recently charged allegedly tried to set fire to SPD’s East Precinct while people were inside working. One of those two also allegedly attacked a cop with a baseball bat. That officer is okay, say department officials, and is back on the beat but SPD’s top brass say officers facing violence and threats of defunding the department pushed some employees to leave the agency.
“This can’t be our new normal,” said Seattle Police Department’s Interim Chief Adrian Diaz.
Standing next to images showing the moments before one of SPD’s officers was struck in the head with a bat during protests in September Diaz commended his detectives for cracking the case.
“Arming yourself with a baseball and landing a hit to anyone is a brutal crime,” Diaz said. “This is not a peaceful protest, this is violence.”
Court documents revealed images gathered from social media showing the moments leading up to the bat attack. The officer’s helmet took the brunt of the strike and its protective foam cracked from the impact.
“He was lucky,” said Diaz. “It could have resulted in a deadly force situation regardless if an officer was wearing a helmet or not.”
On September 1, SPD says that same suspect and several others broke from demonstrators and then tossed Molotov cocktails at the East Precinct. An outdoor wall caught fire while cops worked inside.
Later that month, SPD arrested two suspects, Danielle McMillan and Jacob Greenburg. Investigators identified them by comparing images of them found on social media and police body cameras.
After a search of their electronics, court documents revealed McMillan and Greenburg not only planned their crimes but also bragged about the officer attack. Greenburg allegedly corresponded with McMillan via messaging and discussed the attack, and at one point told her that he, ‘wish he didn’t have a helmet on.’
Then in October, Brian Leil allegedly tossed a flaming stick into an SPD cruiser occupied by an officer. Leil is charged with assault.
Diaz says many officers have since been reassigned out of specialized units and are working patrol in an effort to reduce 911 response times across the city.
He said the department is on track to seize a record 1000 guns off the streets by the end of 2020 while shootings and murders reached levels not seen in the city in more than a decade.
While Diaz battles the rising number of violent crimes he insists peaceful demonstrators also deserve a safe Seattle.
“Many want us to arrest all of them,” he said. “Our focus is to have some level of safety in this city and we’re able to respond to violent crime and address the shootings and homicides.”
Diaz added if the department loses 100 or so more officers, complying with the federal consent decree could become an issue, but so far the numbers of cops retiring or taking jobs at other departments might mean layoffs will not be required.