Law & Justice

Report: Seattle Police failed to de-escalate before killing man

Two Seattle Police officers shot 44-year-old Derek Hayden during a February 2021 encounter
February 2, 2022 at 6:10 a.m.

CDN wire services

SEATTLE — Seattle's police watchdog group announced Tuesday that two officers who fatally shot a man carrying a knife as he walked along Seattle's waterfront last year failed to first try to defuse the situation or use other defensive strategies. 

The Seattle Times reports the Office of Police Accountability recommended suspensions for each officer — identified as Cassidy Butler and Willard Jared — for violating the department's "de-escalation" policy. Butler and Jared shot 44-year-old Derek Hayden during the February 2021 encounter. 

Records showed interim Chief Adrian Diaz upheld the OPA findings and recommendations, imposing a one-day suspension without pay against Butler and a three-day suspension without pay against Jared, the more senior officer.

In the records, Diaz directly assessed each officer's actions, finding both had "undercut the core component of de-escalation" by interceding in a large police response at the scene and emerging with their weapons drawn.

"The Subject had not threatened anyone but himself," Diaz wrote. "Time would have allowed the situation to evolve, it would have given the officers more opportunity to build a rapport with the Subject and to call in more resources."

Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officers' Guild which represents the officers, declined to comment Tuesday about the investigation.

Friends and relatives of Hayden, who has been described as a well-liked, Seattle University graduate student who was studying computer science, have said they hadn't recognized his mental health issues.

"It just really highlights the fact of how the system doesn't always work right," Jason Trammell, Hayden's cousin, said after his death.

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