A Snoqualmie police officer is serving a 20-day suspension for having an inappropriate relationship with the wife of a fellow officer. The suspended officer, Nick Hogan, was fired from the Tukwila Police Department in 2013 after several excessive-force lawsuits.
A Snoqualmie police officer with an extensive history of using excessive force has been given 20 days off without pay for having an affair with another officer’s wife, according to documents obtained by The Seattle Times.
The discipline comes after an internal investigation into the actions of Officer Nick Hogan, actions that also prompted a letter to the mayor and police chief, signed by 18 of the department’s 21 officers, calling for Hogan’s dismissal.
Hogan was hired by the Snoqualmie Police Department in 2013 after being fired from Tukwila following a pair of excessive-force lawsuits that cost that city more than $425,000 in settlements and attorneys’ fees.
According to documents obtained through the state Public Records Act, Hogan was disciplined in late January for having an “extramarital relationship” with the wife of another patrolman. After his unpaid time off, he will return to his job on March 10.
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The woman was a department volunteer at the time, and an investigation conducted by Seattle lawyer Rebecca Dean found that the relationship was consensual, according to the documents. The pair “sexted” each other, according to documents.
The couple acknowledged they hugged and kissed; however, the woman said the relationship went no further, and Dean concluded there was no evidence of other sexual contact. Hogan told Dean the woman performed a sex act on him once, according to the investigation.
The investigation showed the couple met at least 10 times while Hogan was on duty. The relationship cooled in late 2014 after Hogan had an affair with another woman who was not affiliated with the Police Department, the investigation concluded.
At the same time, according to Dean’s investigation, Hogan’s commanding officer said other officers in the department began to cool toward Hogan “based upon their personal morals and concluded that they could not trust him.”
At a meeting of patrol officers to “thrash out” differences, the only officer who came to Hogan’s defense was the officer whose wife Hogan had been seeing. That officer was unaware of the relationship at the time, according to the investigation.
Hogan was placed on leave in October when the investigation was launched.
Hogan, in a response to the disciplinary decision written by his attorney, said the city was punishing him for his private life and over media accounts of his troubles in Tukwila.
Besides being named in the two civil-rights lawsuits while working in Tukwila, Hogan was the subject of complaints from fellow officers there that he was overly aggressive, particularly toward people who were inebriated or of color.
Research by plaintiffs’ attorneys indicated that Hogan had used force more often than any other officer on the Tukwila force, including incidents where he used knee strikes against a handcuffed suspect in the rear of his patrol car, had broken the arm of a man while using an unauthorized takedown technique, and broke the leg of another in a scuffle at a party that turned into a melee, mostly due to Hogan’s aggressive actions, according to reports.
All of those individuals were black. The lawyers’ research showed that of 20 incidents where Hogan used force capable of causing serious injuries, 19 of the individuals he targeted were ethnic minorities.
Tukwila police also learned that Hogan had an apparent affiliation with the “Straight Edge” movement, whose members eschew alcohol and drugs and have used violence against those who imbibe. Hogan bore several Straight Edge tattoos and had posted a poem celebrating police violence on his Xbox page, according to more than 1,000 pages of disciplinary records obtained from the Tukwila Police Department.
Snoqualmie has defended its decision to hire Hogan, and Mayor Matt Larson and Chief Steven McCulley stated last July that there had been no serious complaints about his performance.
In December, after Dean’s investigation was completed, a letter signed by 18 of the city’s 21 sworn officers complained about the decision to hire Hogan and its impact on the department. The letter also disputed the city’s contention that he had been doing a good job.
“When Officer Hogan came to work with the department for his initial field training, some Officers found him difficult to train, abrasive with citizens, discourteous to fellow officers, routinely disregarded case law, and generally a liability to the city.
“We expressed these concerns to management and were ignored and told to allow him to continue,” the letter said.
Once on his own, the letter said, Hogan was “heavy handed, disrespectful and inappropriate to members of the public” and his fellow officers.
McCulley, the chief, acknowledged the existence of the letter. Bob Sterbank, the city’s attorney, pointed out that it was dated in December, after his fellow officers learned of Hogan’s relationship with a fellow officer’s wife. He said he was unaware of any officers complaining about Hogan’s actions before that.
In a Jan. 29 notice of discipline imposing the 20-day suspension, Larson concluded Hogan had demonstrated conduct unbecoming an officer and said he “demonstrated a lack of basic tact and common sense, as well as exceedingly poor judgment.
“I find your actions reprehensible and inexcusable,” he wrote.