Seattle, WA -- A 70-year-old retired Air Force veteran was abused and arrested for absolutely no reason at all.
William Wingate, a man with no criminal record, was walking down the street, as he does every day, using a golf club, which he has re-purposed into a cane. He's been using this cane/golf club for 20 years.
On July 9, 2014, however, his daily walk would cross paths with overzealous Seattle Police officer, Cynthia Whitlatch. Completely out of the blue, at 1:00 in the afternoon, Whitlatch pulls up to Wingate and demands he drop his cane.
Wingate, obviously surprised and confused as to what was going on, tries to figure out exactly what it is Whitlatch wants.
"Drop the golf club!" screams the officer, seemingly jacked up on her authority.
"What? this is my golf club," says Wingate having absolutely no idea why Whitlatch is demanding he drop it.
"You just swung that golf club at me," Whitlatch yells.
"No, I did not!" exclaims Wingate.
"Right back there," Whitlach says back. "It was on audio and video tape."
The fact that Wingate never swung the golf club at Whitlach and no video was ever produced showing this, did not stop this tyrant from kidnapping and caging this innocent man.
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On the video, Officer Whitlach can be heard insisting that the recording would show Wingate swinging his golf club at her and hitting a stop sign with it. According to the SPD, there exists no video to back up this claim. (SPD did not make Whitlach available for comment.)
"The allegation that he swung at the police car," said city council member Bruce Harrell, who subsequently got involved in the case, "wasn't corroborated by any other facts and was not caught on any video. What was caught on video was him minding his own business with the golf club at his side."
Eventually, Whitlatch tells Wingate that he's going to be arrested and Wingate complied. Had he not complied, an innocent 70-year-old black man could have died in Capitol Hill that day.
A few moments later, officer Chris Coles arrives, calls him "sir," and he hands over the cane. The heart-wrenching video continues as this poor man is loaded into the back of the paddy wagon.
"The system failed this man. He should never have been stopped. Once he got to the precinct, reason should have prevailed," said Washington State Rep, Dawn Mason.
But reason did not prevail.
Wingate was subsequently booked into King County Jail on harassment and obstruction charges. He was held there over night.
The video of this incident is saddening and deplorable. To watch an innocent man, minding his own business while out for a walk on a beautiful day, be deprived of his freedom by a cop on a power trip, is disheartening, to say the least.
After backlash from the community and lawmakers, SPD Chief Carmen Best issued an apology to Wingate...... 8 months later.
As for Whitlach, she still combs the streets looking for innocent old black men to abuse. She received not one day of suspension for depriving an innocent man of his rights, and only had to undergo counseling from her supervisor; a course of action that the "department believes to be an appropriate resolution."
Below is the Dashcam video from July 9, 2014. Officer Cynthia Whitlach's interaction with Wingate begins at the 1:45 mark.