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 will get a five day vacation.
What’s more, the “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.
“I’m disappointed in Detective (Richard) Rowe’s behavior,” Johanknecht said in a press conference on Monday, according to the Seattle Times.
“Your demeanor appeared angry and ‘amped up,’ ” Johanknecht wrote in a disciplinary letter to Rowe. “I believe your excessive use of profanity, your verbal and non-verbal communications, were ineffective, discourteous and not aligned with my expectations nor our department Core Values.”
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.
Johanknecht said she strayed from the normal slap on the wrist of 10 days—that an officer would receive for such behavior—because Rowe was apologetic. So, she decided to only give him five days of unpaid vacation. She also noted the “extra stress” Rowe had to undergo after the incident because of the media’s response.
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 on Monday.
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 subsequent 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.