Police Arrest African American Vet For Using Golf Club As Cane
Note: The Seattle police are have already agreed to reform their police force as the Department of Justice found them to be engaging in a pattern of racially prejudiced policing. William Wingate, a retired bus driver who served in the military for 20 years, was arrested in July when Officer Cynthia Whitlatch claimed he swung a golf club like a weapon. Dash-cam video of the arrest showed no such maneuver. The 70-year-old said he uses the club as a walking stick. A police review into the cop revealed racially insensitive posts on her Facebook page, and Wingate is suing the city for damages. Whitlatch has been placed on desk duty as the police investigate the incident. Whitlatch was one of 100 officers who filed a lawsuit to stop the reforms required by the DOJ investigation — that lawsuit failed.
WATCH THE DASHCAM VIDEO
Seattle police arrested 70-year-old William Wingate in July after an officer claimed he swung the golf club he uses as a cane. STRANGERVIDEO VIA YOUTUBE
A Seattle cop arrested a 70-year-old military veteran, claiming the golf club he used as a cane was a weapon — a move that prompted the arrestee to sue the city and force a review of its officer.
Newly released dashcam video showed Officer Cynthia Whitlatch arrest retired bus driver William Wingate in downtown Seattle in July. Whitlatch, who is white, claimed Wingate, who is black, swung his club at her.
The footage of the incident showed no such maneuver.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole ordered a conduct review into Whitlatch after the July 9 arrest, where Wingate was charged with obstruction and unlawful use of a weapon.
Officers found racially insensitive posts on the cop’s Facebook page. She called riots in Ferguson over the shooting death of a black unarmed teen “chronic black racism,” police said.
“I am tired of black peoples (sic) paranoia that white people are out to get them,” she wrote. When one of her friends criticized her comments, she called him “another black racist,” police said.
Whitlatch, a veteran police officer, does not have a history of disciplinary action. After the July arrest, she received counseling from her supervisor, a punishment the “department believes to be an appropriate resolution,” the force said in astatement to KIRO TV.
Seattle Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb admitted the force could have handled the situation differently, but said the arrest was not racially biased.
“I know one thing,” he continued. “I’m a black man walking down the street doing nothing and I got stopped and went to jail by a white police officer.”
Police released video of the arrest on Wednesday. In the footage, Whitlatch pulled her police cruiser over near Whitlatch and demanded he drop his golf club.
“You just swung that golf club at me!” Whitlatch yelled. “Right back there. It was on audio and video tape.”
The dashcam footage did not show the 70-year-old lift his club.
He was booked into a Seattle jail on harassment and obstruction charges. A day later, prosecutors added a charge of unlawful use of a weapon, Seattle’s the Stranger reported.
A judge dismissed the case in September following public outcry. Democratic Washington State representative Dawn Mason was a vocal supporter of Wingate.
“Seventy years of beating the odds of never having been arrested — a black man,” Mason told the Stranger. “Served in the military for 20 years. Worked with the police, because you do that as a bus driver.”
Seattle Councilman Bruce Harrell also backed the 70-year-old.
“He’s an outstanding gentleman, so it seems a little bizarre that such a reasonable person with no criminal history would swing wildly a club at an officer,” Harrell said. “That doesn’t make common sense.”
Wingate said he has grown fearful of police. He now refuses to walk in the neighborhood where he was arrested.
“They could do something else to me,” he said.