Society

Deputies Fired For Falsely Accusing Seattle Bus Driver Of Using Profanity

| by Reuters

Two sheriff's deputies patrolling Seattle's transit system have been fired for falsely accusing a bus driver of using profanity during an argument captured by a body camera the driver was wearing, police said on Tuesday.

The firings resulted from an investigation into a complaint filed by King County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Lou Caballero after an early morning argument on Nov. 14 between him and driver Kelvin Kirkpatrick in downtown Seattle, internal Sheriff's Office documents showed.

During the argument, Kirkpatrick, a 20-year transit veteran, criticized Caballero and his deputies for not removing non-paying "sleepers" from his bus.

Caballero said Kirkpatrick yelled at him: "You got three fucking deputies out here that don't do nothing." Another deputy, Amy Shoblom, attested to that in a witness statement.

Footage recorded by the body camera Kirkpatrick was wearing, which was given to investigators, showed the driver had not used any profanity.

"I'm not yelling at you, sergeant. ... I'm expressing how frustrated I am at the fact that I've got three deputies that don't do anything when I need help," Kirkpatrick can be heard saying.

Caballero was fired effective last Thursday, and Shoblom was fired earlier this month, Sheriff's Office spokesman Jason Stanley said on Tuesday.

Caballero, who was not aware he was being videotaped, was fired for dishonesty and retaliation, and Shoblom was fired for dishonesty, according to termination letters from Sheriff John Urquhart that were posted online.

According to Urquhart's letter, Caballero had suggested the driver manipulated the video.

Julie Kays, an attorney representing Caballero and Shoblom, said Caballero was wrongfully terminated and that the investigation supporting that decision was flawed and biased.

"We are currently conducting a thorough and wide reaching investigation into the Sheriff's Department's treatment of Lou," Kays said. "We look forward to presenting the results of this investigation to a jury."

Shoblom could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Peter Cooney) / Photo credit: Seattle Transit Blog