A Snohomish County deputy who was fired last year and then rehired after a new sheriff was elected is now being scrutinized for a May 28 video showing him repeatedly striking a suspect who was lying face-down on the ground as officers handcuffed him.
The video was shot from a nearby home and shared around social media as protests against police brutality spread worldwide. It shows a man being pulled out of the back of a minivan in a residential neighborhood near Mill Creek and forced to the ground with three deputies around him.
In the video, one of the deputies, now identified as Deputy Evan Twedt, delivers a rapid series of blows to the man on the ground, who was wanted as a suspect in a domestic violence case and vehicle theft, and on a felony warrant. Both Twedt and the suspect are white, according the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
The angle of the video does not show the arrestee’s movements or hands, but he can be heard saying, “Hey I’m not resisting, guys.”
In a report on the May 28 arrest, Twedt wrote that the suspect was stiffening his arm, “moving as if he were trying to get out of my grasp” and digging his “long fingernails” into Twedt’s hands.
“I delivered a few close hand strikes to the top of his fist as I ordered him to stop grabbing me and open his fist,” Twedt wrote in the police report. He said he delivered another “set of close hand strikes” when the suspect tried the move again seconds later.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the man arrested in the video was wanted on a felony state Department of Corrections escape warrant as well as in connection with a domestic violence assault in which he reportedly threw an alcoholic beverage on his girlfriend.
Twedt had been looking for the man early that morning at the Mill Pointe Apartments in Everett, where he was known to hang out, according to the police report.
While there, Twedt and other deputies learned of a report of a stolen Audi and spotted the Audi nearby, apparently being driven by the suspect they sought, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Deputies pursued the Audi and tried to stop it, but the driver fled and hit a vehicle before disappearing, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe.
About half an hour later, at 5 a.m., deputies found the suspect under a blanket in the back seat of a minivan driven by his girlfriend, according to the police report.
“The suspect is also well known to law enforcement and is cautioned as being armed and dangerous. When deputies located the suspect hiding under a blanket in the back of the van, they did not know if he was armed or had a weapon under the blanket,” O’Keefe wrote in an email.
She said the victim of the car theft, the pursuing deputy, the suspect himself and the suspect’s girlfriend all identified the suspect as the driver of the stolen Audi.
The man was taken into custody and booked into the Snohomish County Jail on investigation of possession of a stolen vehicle, eluding, and hit and run, as well as the warrant.
Twedt’s use of force incident is currently under a supervisor’s review, O’Keefe said.
Twedt and Deputy Matt Boice were fired at the end of 2019 by former Sheriff Ty Trenary, who accused the pair of dishonesty and other policy violations after an internal investigation showed they improperly searched the trunk of a car belonging to a man who was stopped for speeding and arrested on suspicion of drug possession in June 2017.
The investigation found both deputies were present when a trainee deputy opened and searched the trunk of the car as part of an “inventory” before having it towed. When they found a shotgun — the driver was a felon and not supposed to possess a firearm — they shut the trunk and helped the trainee deputy apply for a search warrant that didn’t mention they already knew the gun was there. When they “found” the weapon after obtaining the warrant, the driver was charged with illegally possessing a firearm. That charge was later dropped as part of a plea bargain, according to court records.
The incident came to light last year when a lieutenant overheard deputies recalling the incident and took it to his supervisors, who opened an investigation. The internal investigation concluded the deputies and the trainee had colluded to cover up the discovery of the weapon and said the search violated a 2016 policy expressly prohibiting searching closed trunks without a warrant or the owner’s permission.
The two were rehired by the current Snohomish County Sheriff, Adam Fortney, once Fortney took office this year. He had previously been their supervisor and an outspoken critic of their firing.
Both deputies’ names remain on a list kept by the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of law enforcement officers with credibility problems.
Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter contributed to this story.