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

Mark LeMaster and Stu Harris look at past class photos during the East Seattle Elementary School alumni event on June 8. Photo courtesy of Owen Blauman
East Seattle Elementary School reunites alumni

Over 150 East Seattle alumni gathered to honor their alma mater on June 9.

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Courtesy photo 
                                Daniel Hankes, a junior at Mercer Island High School, is leading a drive to collect eyeglasses to be processed and distributed by the Northwest Lions Club Eyeglasses Recycling Center for his Eagle Scout Service Project.
MIHS Eagle Scout leads drive to collect eyeglasses for people in need

Daniel Hankes is leading a drive to collect eyeglasses to be processed and distributed by the Northwest Lions Club Eyeglasses Recycling Center.

Mercer Island included a detailed map of where Verizon intends to install small cells throughout the city. Mercer Island / courtesy graphic
Mercer Island to see another wave of small cells

Verizon will take its turn in filling in the communication gaps on Mercer Island with small cells.

In a 2015 report from the Washington State Department of Ecology, King County’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill received 53,739 tons of of plastic bags and wrap from housing and commercial sources alone. File photo/Sound Publishing
No good solution to the plastics problem

Plastic is piling up everywhere from King County to ocean floors, and humans keep making more.

Jesse Bon appointed interim city manager

Bon will serve in the role as the city looks for a replacement following Julie Underwood’s departure.

Sexual misconduct reports triple following ‘Report it to Stop it’ campaign

Joint effort to curb unwanted harassment proves successful.

Contributed photo
                                Bud Palmberg was the lead pastor of the Evergreen Covenant Church for nearly three decades and saw the church grow from 55 to more than 1,000. He died on May 21 on a mission trip to Bali.
Remembering Bud Palmberg

The longtime resident and pastor was beloved by many who knew him.

King County’s $5 million derelict boat problem

When a boat sinks, it costs a lot to bring it up, with millions being spent since 2003 on removals.

Self-driving cars: Heaven or hell?

Depending on factors, traffic and environmental impacts could become better or worse.

Measles confirmed at two Eastside Schools

Parents urged to monitor children for signs.