Mayors Respond, Fire Back over Embattled Police Officer Placed on Administrative Leave

SnoqualmiePolicePatchThe story ran in mid July in the Seattle Times, one stating that the Snoqualmie Police Department had hired an officer who in 2013 was terminated from the Tukwila Police Department over claims of his use of excessive force that resulted in the City of Tukwila settling two lawsuits totaling $275,000.

City of Snoqualmie officials stated they were aware of some issues and allegations surrounding Officer Nicholas Hogan when they hired him in 2014 as the department expanded to begin police service in the nearby City of North Bend.

Mayor Larson told the Snoqualmie Valley Record in late July that he raised some concerns while reviewing Hogan’s application, including the 2013 lawsuit claiming Hogan had broken a man’s arm during an arrest, which led to Police Chief McCully having private conversations with some of Hogan’s former Tukwila co-workers where it was learned his firing “may have been political, more symbolic in nature than a reflection on his performance.”

As to a controversial 2014 lawsuit detailed in the Seattle Times in July claiming Hogan had stomped on and broken a man’s leg during a 2011 arrest, city officials said they did not have full details of that lawsuit as it was just recently settled by the City of Tukwila for $175,000.

According to Mayor Larson, the plaintiff didn’t name Officer Hogan as the person suspected of breaking his leg until the April 2014 lawsuit was filed and by then Hogan had been working in Snoqualmie for two months. In the earlier complaint, the man involved did not name which of the three officers involved was suspected – and the complaint was ruled against, saying the officers had used a reasonable amount of force.

In a July response to the Time’s story, Larson explained Officer Hogan had not been subject to any complaints or internal investigation during his 18 months on the job, and had “performed in accordance with police department policies and protocol.”  He said the city was very satisfied with his performance.

When asked if it is still the case, that Hogan does not have any complaints since joining the Snoqualmie Police Department, Larson stated,  “That is correct. I am unaware of any complaints involving his interactions with the public and no complaints or allegations of excessive use of force.”

According to a new Seattle Times story published on October 25th, Hogan was placed on administrative leave in early October.

When asked about this new development, Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson responded that Hogan being on leave had “nothing to do with violent, aggressive behavior, or excessive use of force,”  adding, “Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to discuss the details.”

Per Wikipedia explanation, “administrative leave does not in itself imply that an employee will be disciplined or that an allegation is credible, which is why pay and benefits are not discontinued.”

Responding to the new Times story, Mayor Larson was critical of the series of extensive articles on Officer Hogan by Mike Carter – and claims contained in them that city officials had been reluctant to discuss Hogan and its decision to hire him.

Larson stated last July he “attempted to have a couple of candid conversations with him [Carter] but quickly concluded that he had a very strong and biased agenda” which has led to his distrust of Mr. Carter.

Larson said he agreed to meet with the writer “on the condition that his editor was present in order to observe his conduct and reporting style.”  According to the mayor, the condition was met with refusal.

Larson also claims the stories omitted “critical information that would have cast Officer Hogan in a more favorable light, or, at the very least, undermined the credibility of the so-called victim, a known gang member.” Larson cited as an example the omission of medical evidence that showed the lawsuit plaintiff suffered a spiral fracture, which is inconsistent with his claim that his leg was broken by being stomped on.

Mr. Carter was asked to comment on Mayor Larson’s claims, but declined.  There is no word on when Officer Hogan’s administrative leave will conclude.

The City of Snoqualmie stated it also formally requested a correction to Mr. Carter’s latest article, saying the mayor was formally interviewed about Officer Hogan, invited Mike Carter with his editor for a second interview at city hall and for every written inquiry submitted by Mr. Carter, they “responded with comprehensive, multiple-page answers. The answers provided in-depth information not included in articles published by The Seattle Times.”

As the Snoqualmie Police Department provides police service to North Bend, Mayor Ken Hearing also issued a comment:

“The City of North Bend has been contracting with Snoqualmie for police service for a little over a year and a half. During this time period, our citizen satisfaction survey has indicated a large increase in citizen confidence in the department as well as their feelings of neighbor safety and the City has received no complaints regarding officer conduct.  Under our agreement with Snoqualmie,  all officers assigned to work in North Bend are employees of Snoqualmie and accordingly all recruitments must be in accordance with their hiring rules, procedures and policies.

Newspapers do not always get all their facts right and Officer Hogan was not hired solely to patrol in North Bend. In fact, Chief McCulley assigned Officer Hogan to patrol in Snoqualmie starting in July of this year.  Currently, Officer Hogan is on leave during an administrative investigation and is not patrolling in either city pending the outcome of this investigation.  The Chief has assured us that the investigation is not related in any manner to the allegation of his use of excessive force in Tukwila.  We will wait to hear from the Chief regarding the result of this investigation.  “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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