Seattle City Councilmember Richard McIver was released from jail without bail today, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic...

Share story

Seattle City Councilmember Richard McIver was released from jail without bail today, a day after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence following an early-morning incident at his South Seattle home Wednesday.

McIver, 66, cannot have any contact with his wife for two weeks. He is also not allowed to have alcohol, any drugs except for prescription medicine, and he had to surrender all weapons and his firearm permit.

McIver, who was released on his personal recognizance, was in King County Superior Court for a bail hearing after spending two nights in the King County Jail. He has not been charged.

His wife, Marlaina Kiner-McIver, who spoke in court this morning, told Judge Linda Thompson that the two have been married 34 years.

This week, save 90% on digital access.

“We never had an incident like that occur … I’m not afraid of him,” she said.

“I have no reason to believe it will ever happen again.”

His wife objected to the no-contact order, but McIver’s attorney Joann Francis said that they supported the no-contact order.

A no-contact order is routine in domestic violence instances.

“We believe it probably is appropriate,” Francis said.

His next court appearance is Monday, Oct. 15.

In the early hours Wednesday, Kiner-McIver told police her husband repeatedly grabbed her by the throat and arm during a “profane tirade.”

“He came home angry and intoxicated,” according to Seattle police Sgt. Deanna Nolette.

“Domestic violence is a very serious issue,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “At this time I will not comment on the charges being brought against me except to say I will be pleading not guilty at my arraignment. I am cooperating fully with the investigation.”

When reached at the couple’s home Wednesday, his wife said, “I never planned for it to end up this way.” She declined to say anything else. They have a grown daughter.

Dawn Mason, a former state lawmaker speaking on Kiner-McIver’s behalf, said Kiner-McIver is doing as well as can be expected.

“The best response is to have a strong circle of women around her right now,” she said.

Friends and colleagues said they were stunned and shaken by McIver’s arrest, but they are withholding judgment until the matter is resolved.

“I’m heartbroken. It’s a total surprise,” said John Okamoto, the Port of Seattle’s chief administrative officer and a longtime friend of McIver’s. The two were part of a trade mission to Asia earlier this month and Okamoto said McIver was shopping for gifts for his wife in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Richard struck me on the trip as a perfect gentleman, which made it all the more shocking to hear the news,” Okamoto said.

McIver was appointed to the City Council in 1997 to complete the term of John Manning, a former police officer who resigned after pleading guilty to domestic violence. McIver was then elected to a four-year term in 1997, and in 2001 and 2005.

Since 2004 he has chaired the council’s powerful budget committee, where he is known to keep a hawkish eye on taxpayers’ money, pepper bureaucrats with questions, and “not suffer frivolous ideas gladly,” committee vice chairwoman Jean Godden said.

During the 2005 election, opponents criticized McIver’s congenial manner as lacking energy. “Don’t mistake cool for fool,” McIver replied, meaning his laid-back style shouldn’t be mistaken for lack of vigor.

McIver, who is African American, has also built a reputation as an advocate for Southeast Seattle, light rail and minority affairs. Bob Drewell, executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council, credits McIver as the key figure in creating the $50 million Rainier Valley Community Development Fund.

“You couldn’t ask for a stronger advocate for people of color,” said James Kelly, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, who describes himself as a friend of McIver and his wife.

Kiner-McIver is an attorney who headed the federal Office for Civil Rights in Seattle in the 1970s, and later was director of human rights for the city.

McIver is well known around City Hall for holding after-work sessions at the Four Seas bar in the International District.

On Tuesday night he met Aimee Curl, a Seattle Weekly reporter, for drinks at the College Club, a private downtown social club. According to Curl, who wrote about the meeting Wednesday, the two talked about stories she was working on. Curl also reported that McIver spoke glowingly of his wife, and then later at 7:45 p.m. drove Curl home to Capitol Hill. He “seemed in good spirits when he dropped me off,” she noted.

A little more than four hours later, someone at the house called 911 and hung up. A dispatch operator called the home back and got Kiner-McIver on the phone. She said she and her husband had been drinking and arguing but the fighting had “not been physical,” according to a police report.

Two officers were sent to the house where Kiner-McIver then told them she had been assaulted, and that she had to push McIver off her at least three times, the report said.

Officers reported that she did not have visible injuries.

Police say McIver told officers he was probably drunk and confirmed he had been arguing with his wife. He denied making any physical contact, according to the police report.

Anytime police respond to domestic-violence calls, officers are required by state law to arrest the person they determine is the primary aggressor — no exceptions, police said.

Reverberations from McIver’s arrest rattled City Hall, where McIver has a long history. His mother and a young Greg Nickels, now mayor, were both aides to then-Councilmember Norm Rice.

Council President Nick Licata said he was not going to “prejudge” McIver. “He’s very honest, which I appreciate.”

Typically, domestic-violence cases such as McIver’s, would be handled by the Seattle city attorney in Municipal Court. But the city requested that the case be handled by King County to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

McIver’s attorney, Joann Francis, filed a motion to move up his bail hearing, but King County District Court Judge Mark Chow said he couldn’t hear the case because he knows McIver. Chow was unable to get another judge to replace him Wednesday.

Domestic-violence offenses in Municipal Court are either misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, or gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Staff reporters Nancy Bartley, Jennifer Sullivan and Christina Siderius, and news researcher David Turim contributed to this report.

Bob Young: 206-464-2174 or

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.