Seattle mayor backs interim police chief's decisions

Murray says overturning seven officer misconduct findings right thing to do

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SEATTLE (AP) -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is backing his interim police chief's decision to overturn misconduct findings against seven officers, including an incident in which an officer threatened to harass an editor at the weekly newspaper The Stranger.

In a late Friday news conference, Murray said Interim Chief Harry Bailey made the right decision in one case and simply approved six other actions endorsed by his predecessor.

Murray said Bailey acted appropriately when he reversed the one-day suspension of Officer John Marion, who along with a King County Sheriff's deputy, threatened Dominic Holden, an editor at the Stranger, when he stopped to photograph police activity at a public transit plaza last summer.

The sheriff's deputy, who had a long history of complaints, was later fired.

Bailey's actions and Murray's approval of them are raising serious concerns from a police watchdog and have prompted pointed questions from City Council.

In overturning the suspension, the action removed a misconduct finding from the officer's record.

"While this could be perceived as a lesser punishment under the current legal framework, Chief Bailey believes, and I support him, that the framework for this process is reflective of what is most constructive -- training, changing behavior," Murray said.

The training Marion went through includes making the officer create a presentation about best practices in working with the public and speaking at precinct roll calls about what he had learned.

Before the news conference, The Seattle Times reported that City Councilmember Tim Burgess sent a pointed letter to Bailey asking for further explanation of the reversal.

"As my questions indicated, I'm concerned that your review of prior cases, all fully investigated with final dispositions reached, will send a message that I don't believe you intend and that is that you are reversing previous Police Chief findings merely because you don't personally agree with the outcomes," Burgess wrote in the letter obtained by the Times.