Motorcyclist Wins $65,000 Settlement After King County Deputy Pulls Gun On Him

BY Herschel Smith
1 year ago

News from the Northwest:

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has agreed to update her department’s use of force policies and pay a man $65,000 in damages after one of her department’s detectives drew his gun on an unsuspecting motorcyclist in a video that went viral last year.

The settlement, which was shared with me by the motorcyclist, states that the sheriff has agreed to implement an order classifying aiming a gun as a “use of force” and requiring that the department to track every single time an officer points their gun at a person. This is already standard practice for many law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Seattle Police Department.

Alex Randall was waiting on his motorcycle for a light to turn green in August of last year when King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Detective Richard Rowe approached him from behind with his gun drawn. Randall had his helmet camera running at the time and captured the tense exchange.

In the widely-viewed video, Rowe can be seen quickly approaching the man from behind with his firearm drawn and without clearly identifying himself as an officer. Randall, surprised by suddenly seeing a gun pointed at him, responds by saying “Oh shit, what are you doing to me?” to which the detective responds “You’re fucking driving reckless. Give me your driver’s license or I’m going to knock you off this bike.”

Rowe has received three road rage or driving complaints against him in the last five years and was placed on administrative leave after Randall posted the video to the Internet, according to reporting by former Stranger writer Sydney Brownstone. In April of this year, Johanknecht suspended Rowe for five days without pay for a lack of courtesy in his conduct.

An internal investigation unit determined last December that the detective had violated some internal policies during the incident but he had not used excessive force because “no actual force was used.”

We had covered this earlier but I hadn’t followed it to conclusion.  This is it, I guess.  The cop is left in the workforce.  He should have been fired and then flogged in the public square, and then put in prison.

The $65,000 is an award paid by the citizens, with the culpable Sheriff and officer bearing no responsibility for what happened.  This isn’t the way to bring accountability.  This kind of settlement will keep encouraging illegal behavior by cops.

Note what the Internal Investigation Unit found: “No actual force was used.”  If you or I had done this, we would have been found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.  He should also have been tried and found guilty of false arrest, violation of the fourth amendment, kidnapping and threats against a person.

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  1. On December 11, 2018 at 4:51 am, Michael said:

    I think the investigating unit might need to use a dictionary. The following is from Oxford English:

    Assault…1.1Law – An act that threatens physical harm to a person, whether or not actual harm is done

    I’m not a lawyer, but I am reasonably confident that a motivated DA would be eager to press charges against you or me for “brandishing” at the very least, and most likely for assault with a deadly weapon.

  2. On December 11, 2018 at 8:15 am, Mark Matis said:

    Where in this country do you expect to find a “motivated DA”, Michael? Every DA in this nation understands that, if he makes “Law Enforcement” unhappy, he will never win another case. Testilying works BOTH ways. And the Only Ones are exceedingly good at same.

  3. On December 11, 2018 at 8:27 am, Fred said:

    Love the handgun grip technique. What did you call it in your original post?

  4. On December 11, 2018 at 8:44 am, Frank Clarke said:

    I predict that in the foreseeable future, a similar incident: armed man approaching victim from behind; will result in the armed man being shot dead by two bystanders. Only later will it become evident that the armed man was actually a police officer.

    This is an easy prediction to make. There is such a thing as ‘the last straw’, and police departments coast to coast still refuse to take out their own trash. If they won’t, someone else will.

  5. On December 11, 2018 at 8:48 am, Michael said:

    @Mark Matis – The DA would be very motivated to press charges against any of us mere mundanes if we had the temerity to duplicate the actions of the thuggish police officer in question. He is obviously (for your stated reasons) not motivated to act against his “only ones”.

  6. On December 11, 2018 at 8:51 am, Michael said:

    @Franke Clarke – I was pondering that very thing this morning after I typed my first message.

  7. On December 11, 2018 at 8:57 am, WiscoDave said:

    “I’m going to have to work on something though. The last time I practiced with my handguns at the range, I did so presenting from the “low-ready” position to test time to get good sight picture and take the shot. I guess I need to work on presenting from the “snuggle-with-the-belly” position instead.”
    I believe that is what you were asking about.

  8. On December 11, 2018 at 9:43 am, Fred said:

    snuggle with the belly…that’s it…LOL. Priceless.

  9. On December 11, 2018 at 11:00 am, Badger said:

    Monetary judgement is light by 3 more zeroes. Otherwise, as the host here notes, there is no forcing a recalcitrant child into behavioral change.

  10. On December 11, 2018 at 1:26 pm, Longbow said:

    That “cop” should have been prosecuted. But you know how it is, they don’t prosecute fellow members of The Gang.

  11. On December 11, 2018 at 6:47 pm, Talktome said:

    A current grand jury in the juristiction can request that the DA bring this case to them, they can indict, even if the spineless “justice department” won’t.

  12. On December 11, 2018 at 7:05 pm, Gryphon said:

    Frank C.- How Long before someone just being pulled over for ‘Traffic’ (right or wrongly) is Pissed Off Enough to roll out of His Vehicle and do a Mag Dump into the pigmobile before it even opens the Door? If “Traffic Stops” become seen as an Ambush or Highway Robbery situation where the Victim’s Life is at Risk, at what Point does it become Logical to Initiate Force?

  13. On December 11, 2018 at 7:48 pm, conrad said:

    It’s a retention position, and who taught him to present his piece with a finger on the trigger(?).
    The first issue is to demand his ID. His cherries may have been lit, but out of uniform qualifies him for the Darwin award. The balloon can go up at anytime, and here one must deal with a man who looks like he’d feel better if he pulled the trigger.

  14. On December 12, 2018 at 4:31 pm, Mark Matis said:

    Ah, but Gryphon and conrad, you had better understand that if anyone should try to defend themselves or any other Mere Citizen against an Only One, regardless of whether or not it is in uniform, they will at best be jailed for a LONG time, or far more likely executed.

  15. On December 13, 2018 at 12:23 am, conrad said:

    Mark, don’t couple me with other posters for our views are not the same. In Washington State it is illegal to pull motorists over in unmarked cars. The Cops are trying to set precedent and do it anyway, but those are in uniform. People still freak out about it, but in an age where concealed carriers are being shot by Cops after stopping lunatics it is problematic to say the least when plain clothes cops are stopping cars with their guns drawn.
    If Police can’t tell the difference at the scene of a crime and walk after gunning innocent people down, what does the citizen do when a dude says “I’m a Cop, you broke the Law” while offering no badge or evidence?

  16. On December 13, 2018 at 8:40 pm, Gryphon said:

    Mark – Yes, it’s Obvious that a Citizen is “Not Allowed” to Defend themselves against Agents of the King – (((their))) “Laws” apply only in One Direction. I am just pointing out the also-obvious Fact that the Increasingly Blatant and Unjustifiable Depredations of the State against the People will EVENTUALLY lead to just this Result, a level of Incivility where the Badged (p)Orcs become ‘targets of opportunity’.

    Conrad – What an Amazing Thing! the (p)Orcs not Allowed to use Unmarked Cars in “revenue enhancement operations’!

  17. On December 15, 2018 at 4:11 pm, DAN III said:


    Seems to me, again:

    There are no good cops.

  18. On December 15, 2018 at 5:04 pm, Steady Steve said:

    Gryphon, conrad, I agree. It is getting to the point where it would be better to open fire first when a police officer tries to “initiate contact”. The only other peaceful way to fix things is if juries or courts require judgements be paid out of the police department budget and pensions instead of liability insurance. A fiscal year or two of no raises, layoffs, and reduced benefits and they will straighten out quickly, I think.

  19. On December 27, 2018 at 9:10 pm, Donk said:

    @SteadySteve I rode my bike 80K miles in 3 years using it as a company car as an hydraulics application engineer for a regional fluid power distributor. I rode it from DC to Miami. The most trouble I had was in ATL with the street rats and the hookers downtown and on the west side (somehow they never put the factories on the nice side of town). Never had anyone come at me pistol drawn but spidey sense caused me to draw and hold low ready on my thigh or high ready inside my reflective vest on a few occasions. I can tell you right now, if that turd had done that to me…well.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Police and was published December 10th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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