An off-duty detective who was caught on camera pointing a gun at a local motorcyclist before identifying himself as law enforcement during a traffic stop in August could face 10 days of suspension as a penalty, according to the findings and recommendation of the King County Sheriff’s Office internal investigations unit.
The motorcyclist, Alex Randall, had been wearing a GoPro on his helmet and uploaded video of the encounter to YouTube two weeks later. Rowe said he had stopped Randall for driving recklessly—a claim Randall disputes—but Randall was never issued a citation. Detective Richard Rowe’s behavior drew swift criticism from King County Sheriff John Urquhart, who said he was “deeply disturbed with the conduct and tactics” he observed and placed Rowe on administrative leave.
Detective Rowe is still employed by the Sheriff’s Office, but he now faces something called a “Loudermill” hearing with the new Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, which will determine whether he stays or goes.
Prior to Rowe’s confrontation with Randall, the detective had racked up three previous complaints of road rage-related behavior. Two of them were classified as minor performance or policy violations and received the attention of supervisors, while the other was classified as a non-investigatory matter. In August, King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight
director Deborah Jacobs told The Stranger that she had concerns about the department’s complaint classification system, and had hired an outside consultant to review department practices.
Investigators sustained the courtesy, conduct, and identification complaints against Rowe. Their report also concluded that the detective had not used unnecessary or excessive force.
Randall, the motorcyclist, called this finding “absolutely ludicrous” in another video he uploaded to YouTube.
“It’s force,” he said. “I can’t run. I can’t make a small movement, even, because we’ve all seen what happens what people do that.”
In the report, Major Noel Fryberger said he didn’t sustain the excessive force complaint “because no actual physical force was used.”
“Understandably,” Fryberger added, “Randall felt that having a weapon pointed at him constituted force.” Fryberger also added in another part of the report that, contrary to Rowe’s claim that he had his firearm at the “low-ready” position and not pointed at Randall, it appeared in the video that Rowe was “purposely pointing his weapon in Randall’s and passing motorists’ direction.”
Sydney Brownstone, The Stranger.com, Dec 18, 2017, “King County Detective Who Pulled Gun on Motorcyclist Didn’t Use Excessive Force, Internal Investigation Finds”, https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/12/18/25637311/king-county-sheriffs-office-investigator-finds-detective-who-pulled-gun-on-motorcyclist-didnt-use-excessive-force