Seattle, WA — Alex Randall was on his way to work last year on his motorcycle when he was assaulted with a deadly weapon by King County Sheriff’s Department detective Richard Rowe. The detective was in the midst of a power trip mixed with road rage when he held an innocent man at gunpoint. And, no one would’ve have known about it had Randall not been filming.
Now, after the department “investigated” themselves, the officer responsible for assaulting an innocent motorist with a deadly weapon will not be fired. Instead, Rowe got a five day vacation and the taxpayers will be held liable.
This month, Randall sued the King County Sheriff’s deputy and King County, alleging excessive force.
Because the department refuses to hold their own deputy accountable, Randall is forced to pursue a civil case.
The suit alleges Rowe used excessive force, and King County’s training policies did not adequately train their officers to handle these daily occurrences, according to KING5.
“The Sheriff’s office clearly demonstrated that they feel no need to hold Deputy Rowe accountable for his actions, that violated Sheriff’s office policies as well as my 4th Amendment rights,” Randall said in a written statement.
According to the suit, Randall is asking for punitive damages and that the King County’s policies be changed.
“That’s why I’m following through on this lawsuit, it’s my only recourse to try to [elicit] any change to the King County Sheriffs Department, and in doing so protecting myself and other King County residents from dangerously unstable officers,” he said.
Rowe’s “punishment” of five days suspension is not for pulling the gun, according to Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. It is for the detective’s lack of courtesy and unbecoming conduct. Apparently, holding innocent motorists at gunpoint during a fit of rage is entirely acceptable but you just can’t swear while doing it.
As the Times reports:
However, Johanknecht defended Rowe’s decision to pull out his firearm during the Aug. 16 incident in North King County, agreeing with the conclusion of the department’s internal investigation.
She said she believed the detective’s account in which he said the motorcyclist reached toward his waistband, causing Rowe to believe he may have had a weapon. But she wrote in the letter that she and Rowe agreed he improperly raised his gun horizontally, instead of keeping it in what is called a low-ready position.
However, as the video below illustrates, Rowe snuck up from behind his victim with the gun already pointed at him, making the “reaching for the waistband” argument a fabrication.
As TFTP previously reported, the stop, which happened on August 16, 2017, received a different response from then-King County Sheriff John Urquhart. As soon as Urquhart saw the video, he immediately put the detective on administrative leave and called Randall personally to apologize.
The Free Thought Project has reported on many videos of many cops needlessly assaulting people with firearms. However, this incident exposes one of the most brazenly ridiculous and dangerous cops we’ve ever seen.
“This video shows the boldness of the King County Sheriffs Deputies and lack of fear of repercussions in threatening and intimidating an unarmed citizen with excessive use of force,” Randall wrote on YouTube.
Indeed, Rowe did not appear to care about potential repercussions as he likely knew that he wouldn’t face any—and he was right. After several months of paid vacation, otherwise known as paid administrative leave, Rowe returned to his job in his full capacity in April.
Citizens of King County, beware.
As the video begins, Randall is pulling up to a red light behind another vehicle and comes to a stop. All of the sudden Rowe, who is in plain clothes, sneaks up behind him with a gun.
“I turn and I am completely unprepared for what I see, which is a man with a gun in my face. And my first reaction is to simply put my hands up,” Randall told KOMO News at the time. “I’m not really able to hear because I’ve got my bike going, I’ve got my helmet on, I’m surprised at what’s happening.”
“What are you doing to me?” Randall said to the man holding him at gunpoint, who never showed him his badge.
“What do you mean what am I doing?” Rowe said. “You’re fucking driving reckless. Give me your driver’s license or I’m going to knock you off this bike.”
“I will pull over. I am unarmed,” Randall said.
“Take your ID out right now,” says the detective. “Move this bike and I’m gonna dump you,” he threatens again.
After their brief exchange, and while he is still assaulting the man with a deadly weapon, Rowe then violates Randall’s Fourth Amendment right and reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet.
“I’m sorry. You have a gun drawn on me, so I’m a little panicked,” Randall said.
Only after he’d held him at gunpoint and illegally searched him did the detective identify himself.
“You’re right, because I’m the police,” Rowe said. “That’s right. When you’re driving and you’re going to place people at risk at 100 miles an hour plus on the God dang roadway.”
According to Randall, however, he was not driving 100 mph and that was a “fabrication and exaggeration.” Also, the detective never issued him a citation for the alleged speeding.
After the assault, Randall decided to file a complaint and this is when he found out that the detective never filed a “Use of Force” report for the incident—in spite of holding him at gunpoint.
“The fact that he had his gun out on a traffic stop. For a reckless driving. Allegedly reckless driving. Which is a misdemeanor. You don’t pull your gun out on somebody for something like that. We just don’t do that,” Urquhart said at the time. However, his replacement seems to be just fine with it.
After the stop, Randall asked several questions which are undoubtedly warranted. One question is why did the detective escalate to deadly force immediately? Another question is why is he holding the gun in a way to seemingly hide it? How was Randall supposed to know that he wasn’t being held up by a criminal? And, if his driving was so terrible as the detective claimed, causing him to draw his pistol—why wasn’t Randall given a citation?
These and many more questions will likely be answered in Randall’s federal lawsuit against the department for unlawful search and seizure.
As you watch the video below, think about all the incidents—not captured on video—in which we hear about unarmed individuals who are shot and killed by police officers. It is not unsafe to assume that some of those incidents could’ve happened just like this one. All the while, as this case illustrates, the officers involved get off with little to no accountability and return to their jobs.