SPD officer suspended for excessive force, escalating confrontation in Etherly arrest

Seattle Police Department Patrol Officer Eric Faust has been suspended for excessive force and unnecessarily escalating a confrontation in the October 2012 arrest of Leo Etherly.

Etherly had been suspected of hit-and-run driving with a cyclist at 29th and Jefferson and was reportedly being uncooperative as police attempted to detain him. A dashboard camera taped the incident and the video was released to the public, leading to a vocal outcry. Etherly later died of a suspected drug overdose.

The Seattle Times reports that Officer Faust has been suspended without pay; he is appealing his suspension.

Interim Seattle police Chief Jim Pugel has handed an eight-day suspension to a patrol officer, finding the officer used excessive force and unnecessarily escalated a confrontation with a man suspected of hit-and-run driving, according to newly released records.

The discipline, imposed on Officer Eric Faust, addressed the type of broad issues raised by the Department of Justice when it found in 2011 that the Police Department had engaged in a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding use of force. The finding led to a landmark settlement last year in which the department agreed to make broad reforms.

Pugel’s findings, outlined in a June 7 disciplinary-action report, were disclosed Tuesday in documents released to The Seattle Times under a public-records request. One day of Faust’s suspension was held in abeyance for two years if he doesn’t have the same or similar misconduct.

Faust, 37, who joined the department in 2006, is appealing the suspension without pay.

The rest of the report is available on the Seattle Times website.


28 thoughts on “SPD officer suspended for excessive force, escalating confrontation in Etherly arrest

  1. That’s too bad. The officer was doing a good job in my opinion. The suspect was acting like a total ass and needed to pull his shit together, when he did not, the officer did it for him. Everyone knows you cannot resist arrest, yell obscenities, and spit on our police.

  2. It’s borderline, but, not too far over the line.

    Too many police, for various reasons, escalate incidents more than needed. Once afflicted with poor attitudes and self control, police may also exaggerate evidence and reporting. The resuld can be improper convictions and an aggressive police force that unfairly attacks citizens. My self and many other people have been targets of overzealous police, exageration, and unfounded charges. My case was dropped, but, it was very frightenning how much power a dishonest cop has. The officer was later terminated for similar false premises, but, no appology was ever made to me for 3 months worry, and an arrest record – though dismissed with prejudice by the court.

    So on the face of it I would stand by the officer. However, I would say he could most likely have done a more professional job. The officer was a bit dumb and lacking in self control, regardless of the fact that Etherly deserves to be punched in the face. That is not the job of police.

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  5. This officer was way out of line; for a clear example of what he should have done instead, look to the calm professionalism of officers Chin and Campbell on either side of him. They’re handling the situation with cool heads while Faust goes completely bananas.

    @noname, even without the use of force, the arrest itself was illegal. If Faust had probable cause to arrest, he could, should, and definitely would have arrested Etherly the moment he rolled up on the scene. As rude & uncooperative as he was, Etherly was still completely within his legal rights, even when he refused to tell Faust his name. And that’s when Faust decided to cuff him, so, again, unlawful arrest.

    What the officers *should* have done was remained calm, politely told Etherly to just relax and sit tight for a couple of minutes, and brought the cyclist to identify him as the driver. By escalating the situation and beating him, Faust wasted the opportunity to build evidence by having the victim ID Etherly at the scene.

    • Again, not to excuse the this officer’s behavior, but note that Chin nor Campbell did NOT get spit in the face. Faust was the one that got spit in the face and the punch (not to excuse it) was an instant, split-second reaction to that (followed by a

      Inappropriate reaction true, but cops are flawed human beings just like the rest of us.. and we expect them to be like Robocop and catch all the bad guys, but behaving like Gandhi while having their jobs recorded like a reality tv show. I don’t know how they do it.

      Again, we all know he shouldn’t have clocked that guy.

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  7. Bulls–t!!!! This type of ruling keeps the CD a containment zone. Move along, nothing to see here, just status quo. Thank you to the officer and please believe those who live here support you and think you got a bad call!

    • Please don’t be so arrogant as to think you can speak for “those that live here”. I live here. I probably have lived here as long as you, and perhaps even longer. And I do not support the actions of the officer. I am pleased that the SPD disciplined this officer.

      Speak for yourself please. You have strong opinions and I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with you attaching them to neighbors who don’t share them, don’t know you, and don’t like what you have to say.

    • Thanks Dana, on this matter, Eyes does not speak for me. She is, however, nothing if not consistent.

    • So you agree that habitual criminals like the perp can spit in a officers face, resist arrest and be allowed to continue this behavior for years? If this was another part of town would he be allowed to even rent there! He also did a hit and run on bicyclist showing no respect for human life! This person you are defending against a a correct behavior by the police? There are a lot of people in the neighborhood who do not like the disipline call and now this guy is on the street ready to offend again knowing the police will not follow up when he offends again! And your disagreement with me is fine, actually I am glad I do not suffer from white liberal guilt

      • eyes, you’re very confused.

        the suspect is not “back on the street” as a result of this officer being disciplined. the suspect was charged and convicted, just as you, eyes, would have hoped. or are you only satisfied when suspects get illegally beaten as part of the arrest process?

        second, this arrest was based on the officer’s hunch, not probable cause. as such, it was illegal, which means the suspect was actually within his rights to pull away when they tried to cuff him.

      • I don’t agree that anyone should spit in another person’s face. Interestingly enough, it does happen sometimes. I definitely don’t endorse a violent response, especially by police officers. Many emergency room staff, first responders, and social workers deal with this regularly but they do not choke, punch, headbutt, or take any other violent action. They call the police if necessary. Not so that the police take violent action, but so the police can contain the situation (see what i did there?).

        Some people are going to resist arrest. Police are trained for that. And police are also trained on when to make a legal arrest. Faust’s actions aren’t a part of that training. The police are not supposed to act like that and should be disciplined when they do. That’s what this whole DOJ thing is about. Our tax money is paying for them and their mistakes. They need to get it together and be more professional about their actual job: To serve and protect.

        Aside from all of that and what Eric_arrr pointed out, Etherly is no longer alive. So, that’s that. “This guy” is not on the street.

        I’m not really sure what you mean about Etherly being allowed to rent in another part of town. You confuse me. Do you even go to other parts of town? I’m not defending Etherly for anything other than his basic rights that he had when he was alive. That doesn’t mean I condone any BS he was a part of. Get it right.

        Sometimes from what you write I think you are a person of color so I would doubt that you would have any “white guilt”. Other times I think you are a cranky old white guy with an interesting history. I’m not quite sure what you suffer from but I do know it’s not white liberal guilt! Like you, I don’t hold any “white guilt” about anything. Wouldn’t be possible.

      • I am a cranky old white guy and proud of it. Your racist slur against my people is meaningless blather. Cranky old white guys as a generality have nothing to be ashamed of. We do our part and expect others will do the same.

  8. Eyes can speak for me any day. Som time I may have a different point but rarely actually disagree with eyes points. He speaks to the concerns of all good citizens

  9. I’ve always assumed Johnathan was a man and carol was a woman. It doesn’t really matter though. And speaking for all…We welcome the opinions and statements regardless of caste.

    • Yes, Leo Etherly is gone. He was found dead in early August.

      It’s been reported that the cause of death was a “suspected drug overdose” although that could mean anything from suicide to accidental overdose of prescription or recreational drugs. Regardless, it’s a sad thing.

      • I don’t see what is so sad about it. This man has been menacing our community for decades. We finally get a small amount of relief and we are expected to be sad about it. Not me.

      • Well, Seth, you’re obviously quite the humanist.

        I didn’t know Etherly, but I did happen to meet some friends of his, and found them to be upstanding, compassionate, neighborly people. Whatever Etherly’s problems were, some decent folks saw something redeeming in him. So, yeah, I’ll go ahead and call it sad when a person lets their life descend into chronic legal troubles and an early end.