Simply writing a story based on your read of an SPD Internal Affairs Report, and linking the report from the SPD’s own website in your story does not cut it for any Investigative Reporter. You have to look at the facts surrounding any Criminal or IA Case against a law enforcement officer.
The case of John Warren Kamaile Yen provides a good example of what is sometimes found in cases of Domestic Violence by law enforcement officers. For many years all over the US and here in Washington concerns about the way departments and prosecutors handled Cop DV cases has been a problem. In Washington State it became such a problem that after the highly publicized Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, Murder Suicide case steps were supposed to be taken to correct the problems.
The Brame case lead to a lot of changes in the way cops are supposed to handle cops including this Model Policy developed by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which was adopted by most Departments in Washington State.
It is important for any reporter after reading the Yen IA case and noting that it contained criticism of the way on scene cops handled the Yen case to review the SPD Policy Manual paying special attention to Policy 1052 and how it relates to the Yen case.
My readers can read the entire content of SPD Policy 1052 in this link. Once you have read it make your own call on whether there may be problems with the YEN case.
This quote from Rachael Alexander’s story and the statements in the IA report should be troubling to every Citizen, and the story is missing the normal who, what, where, when, and why.
“During the investigation, panel members became aware of additional information about Officer Yen “regarding past domestic violence and anger management issues” not directly related to the incident. Their summary says, “There appears there might be a pattern of anger and insubordination issues in his SPD work history as well” and encourages additional review.”
The Common Problem with Cop DV Cases:
Let me preface this by stating that I’ve known Jeff Barkdull since he was a kid, and I have had cases opposite him in Lincoln County. I have the utmost respect for Jeff and I know this was a tough one for him. The decision Jeff had to make regarding Yen was whether or not to allow Yen to plead to a Trespassing Charge either First or Second Degree that did not contain a Domestic Violence Element. Had Jeff decided to include the DV Element Yen could no longer carry a firearm and it would have ended Yen’s law enforcement career.
Even though Jeff might not publically admit it he very likely received considerable positive input about what a great cop Yen is, not only through Yen’s attorney Cossey, but also in the form of nice guy letters and calls which is SOP in cases like this but also in cases not involving cops.
The first thing a good Investigative Reporter would do after reading the IA Case is to take a look at the information available on the Washington State Courts website because that can give you some idea as to whether or not you need to actually go down to the Court House and read the entire file. As I’ve reported before any reporter or private citizen can search the Court Website for free.
Here it what it shows:
What I learn from the online record among other things is that Yen and the “victim” have reconciled, which is quite common in DV cases but unfortunately sometimes those reconciliations end in tragedy, the firearms prohibition was removed, and Judge Sam Cozza accepted the plea bargain. We still don’t know if the Trespassing plea was to First or Second Degree.
I could go into considerably more detail regarding the firearm issue but I’ll leave that up to Rachel Alexander to follow-up on if she chooses and her editors let her, or if you folks are so inclined you can.
This story of course is another criticism by me of a SR Cop story. It isn’t however an indictment of Rachel Alexander who is new to a job that takes a long time to learn I think she will end up a really good reporter and move on quickly. This story took me about 80 minutes but I have the advantage of over four decades of experience in criminal justice so it was easy for me. My many years of experience has taught me among other things that some Journalist, just like Cops don’t take criticism well, so Rachel and the SR can take this criticism for what they think it is worth, but my intent with this Blog is to get the truth out, and if some folks get PO then so be it.