An officer fired from Tukwila and hired by Snoqualmie is in trouble there now, although city officials won’t say why he’s been placed on administrative leave and taken off the streets.
A police officer who was hired by the city of Snoqualmie despite a history of excessive force has been placed on administrative leave and is under investigation by the department, according to city officials.
Snoqualmie will not specify the allegations that led them to pull Officer Nicholas Hogan off the streets; however, City Attorney Bob Sterbank says they do not involve the use of force there.
Hogan was placed on leave Oct. 5, Sterbank said.
He was hired by the city in January 2014 even though he was fired by the Tukwila Police Department in 2012 for aggressive street tactics and his apparent affiliation with the sometimes violent anti-drug “Straight Edge” movement.
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Hogan’s commanders in Tukwila were concerned he was targeting intoxicated African-American men and was too quick to resort to force, generating complaints from citizens and fellow officers. Court records indicate that Tukwila paid out more than $425,000 to settle lawsuits filed by citizens against Hogan and the department.
Snoqualmie hired Hogan from a group of several officers as it expanded its police force to take over providing public safety for neighboring North Bend, which until last year was covered by the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Snoqualmie said it chose Hogan from a trio of candidates and said he was fully vetted and passed a lie-detector test. Mayor Matthew Larson said in a statement that the department was “aware of allegations” concerning Hogan when he was hired in 2014.
Tukwila police Cmdr. Eric Drever said Snoqualmie contacted his agency about Hogan, and reviewed his personnel file. However, he said there was no indication that anybody from Snoqualmie requested or reviewed extensive internal-affairs investigations Tukwila had conducted before firing him.
“I do not see how any department would hire him with that knowledge,” Drever said.
Sterbank, however, said Snoqualmie Police Chief Steve McCulley spoke “off the record with multiple Tukwila command-level individuals, who both spoke favorably of Hogan and indicated their belief that he had been unfairly treated by the City of Tukwila and deserved an opportunity with another law-enforcement agency.”
More than 1,000 pages of Tukwila internal-affairs documents obtained by The Seattle Times revealed Hogan used force more than any other officer on the 60-man Tukwila force.
In June 2011, Tukwila Assistant Chief Don Lincoln wrote in a memorandum to Chief Mike Villa that Hogan had displayed a “disturbing pattern” of serious use-of-force abuses, often involving intoxicated African-American men.
Hogan was also found to have an “apparent affiliation” with a sometimes violent anti-drug movement known as “Straight Edge” — he had a large Straight-Edge themed tattoo on his torso — and had posted inflammatory lyrics celebrating police brutality on an X-Box homepage: “They could use you, you got no remorse; they could use you on the police force. You’d be cute all dressed in blue. You could brutalize right on cue. You’d abuse those who are weak, of course.”
In his squad-room locker, his supervisor found what was described by Lincoln as a “trophy binder,” containing copies of reports in which Hogan had used force.
Some of his colleagues said they cringed when Hogan responded as backup to their calls, believing his presence increased the likelihood that they’d have to fight their way out of what had been a calm situation.
“I would constantly dread every call that I went to with Officer Hogan as I believed that he would cause it to be needlessly stressful and chaotic due to his abrasive and overtly aggressive behavior,” Officer Zack Anderson wrote in a memo to Chief Villa in a July 2011 statement ordered as part of an internal investigation.
Hogan and Tukwila were sued by two men, Alvin Walker and Robert Turner, over incidents where violence ensued after Hogan arrived.
Walker suffered a broken elbow in June 2011 in what Lincoln, the assistant chief, determined was a “brutal” and unnecessary takedown of a man who was cooperative and obviously intoxicated. He settled his lawsuit for $150,000, according to court and internal-affairs documents.
According to the department’s investigation into the Turner incident, police had responded to a report of shots fired at a car-club party being held at Turner’s house in April 2011. The initial officers on the scene found no weapons and reported the crowd was “very cooperative” until Hogan got into a fight with Turner, requiring other officers to join in.
Turner’s ankle was broken — he believes Hogan was responsible — and claimed in his lawsuit that Hogan commented, “This one isn’t going to play basketball anymore” when he heard the bone snap.
Tukwila police concluded that Hogan used excessive force in a third incident on May 20, 2011, involving a prisoner he had transported to Harborview Medical Center to have a cut lip stitched. According to the internal-affairs documents, Hogan delivered three “knee-strikes” to the handcuffed man’s head in the back seat of the patrol car when he refused to get out.
Inside the hospital, a nurse reported that Hogan shoved the shackled man hard up against a wall in the triage room, took him to the floor and then had hospital staff put him in four-point restraints. A few minutes later, Hogan sprayed the restrained man with pepper-spray inside the hospital, requiring officials to decontaminate the ER. Hospital security officials alerted Tukwila to the incident, according to internal-affair documents.
Hogan justified his behavior by saying the handcuffed man had lunged at him and made threats.
Information in this article, originally published Oct. 25, 2015, was corrected Oct. 27, 2015. A previous version of this story mischaracterized the city’s willingness to speak with a Seattle Times reporter. The story said city officials had repeatedly turned down requests for interviews to discuss Hogan and his work history. In fact, Mayor Matthew Larson and other officials initially spoke to the reporter by phone, but Larson declined to be interviewed in person unless an editor was present. The Times did not agree to that stipulation. From then on, all communication between the newspaper and the city was done via email. As the story noted, the city’s attorney did provide written responses to the reporter’s emailed questions.