Photo by SounderBruce/Wikipedia Commons

Photo by SounderBruce/Wikipedia Commons

King County suspends detective for attacking Uber driver

The sheriff’s discipline comes as the result of violent off-duty behavior.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht has decided to discipline King County Detective Janette Luitgaarden for allegedly assaulting an Uber driver during a ride to her home while off-duty on Nov. 4, 2017.

According to a Aug. 9 press release from the Sheriff’s Office, an internal investigation concluded that Detective Luitgaarden “punched, kicked, scratched, and slapped her Uber driver. (A Washington State Trooper who responded to the incident noted that Luitgaarden seemed ‘significantly intoxicated.’)” After both the investigation and hearing—where the detective was able to present her side of the incident—Sheriff Johanknecht has decided that Luitgaarden will serve a four-day, 40-hour suspension without pay for “conduct unbecoming.”

“Our employees should never behave in a way that diminishes public trust and respect for law enforcement,” said Sheriff Johanknecht in the press release. “While I recognize that law enforcement is a stressful profession and our employees will, from time to time, struggle with personal difficulties, I expect our law enforcement and professional staff members to act lawfully and be good role models.”

The Uber driver did not wish to press charges against the detective, and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office also declined to file charges in the case. According to a January 2018 memo from King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Benjamin Santos, the office declined to charge Detective Luitgaarden because it did not have sufficient evidence. “In order to prove assault in the 4th degree, the State must show beyond a reasonable doubt an intentional striking of another person that is harmful or offensive. Here, it is essentially undisputed that the victim was in fact struck by the suspect,” the memo read. “However, given the circumstances, it would be difficult to prove that the striking was intentional and ultimately unlawful given the suspect’s level of intoxication and potential claims of mistaken belief and/or self defense.”

More in News

President’s emergency declaration sparks immediate legal backlash

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his team will sue the White House if federal funds originally intended for Washington state are interrupted.

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.

According to King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) annual report, Seattle had the highest rate of people using services at 36 percent of the total, followed by 31 percent from South King County, 18 percent from the greater Eastside, and 7 percent from north county including Shoreline.
Study shows King County’s treatment funding is making progress

A document on the county’s .1 percent health sales tax was accepted Wednesday by the county council.

MIYFS Breakfast postponed to March 6

The date was changed due to the forecast of another winter storm in the area.

Mercer Island Jewish leader joins 3,000 women for conference

Education, mental health, fundraising, counseling and inclusion among topics addressed.

Mercer Island Half is March 24

The event also features a 10K, 5K and Kids’ Dash.

Children’s play area at Seadrunar. Photo by Lauren Davis via Facebook
Seedy side of Seadrunar: Drug rehab center accused of neglect, exploitation

Public records reveal that Seattle facility was accused of neglecting children and clients in its care.

Russell Wilson and Ciara spoke Friday at the Tukwila Library to Foster students and other attendees as their Why Not You Foundation joined forces with the King County Library System and JPMorgan Chase to launch the DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible campaign. Photo by Kayse Angel
Russell Wilson and Ciara launch DREAM BIG campaign

Partnership with King County libraries dovetails with scholarship program for local students.

Most Read