The female detective was found to be "significantly intoxicated" when she attacked the driver while the car was on Interstate 405, according to the State Patrol.
A sheriff’s detective has been suspended for four days without pay after an internal investigation determined she punched, kicked, scratched and slapped an Uber driver while she was off duty, the King County Sheriff’s Office said.
Detective Janette Luitgaarden was “significantly intoxicated” when she attacked the driver around 7 p.m. Nov. 4 while the car was southbound Interstate 405, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht called Luitgaarden’s behavior “embarrassing,” according to a news release.
The police report for the incident says that Luitgaarden began yelling that she was being kidnapped while in the Uber and tried to jump out of the moving car, according to a letter from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office released by the Sheriff’s Office. The driver grabbed her arm to keep her from jumping out of the car and the detective struck him on his back or arm and cursed at him, according to the letter.
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The driver pulled over and called 911, and Luitgaarden remained calm until police arrived, according to the letter.
The Uber driver did not press charges, according to the release. In January, King County prosecutors declined to charge the detective with fourth-degree assault. Prosecutors said it would be difficult to prove she hit the driver intentionally because of her level of intoxication, according to a letter from the prosecuting attorney.
The recommended discipline at first was 20 days without pay, according to a disciplinary letter. During a June 5 hearing, Luitgaarden’s union representative said she was experiencing personal problems that night and was embarrassed by her actions, according to the letter.
“While I recognize that law enforcement is a stressful profession and our employees will, from time to time, struggle with personal difficulties, I expect our law enforcement and professional staff members to act lawfully and be good role models,” Johanknecht wrote in the news release.
Luitgaarden had no prior disciplinary history, and she must also attend one appointment with an employee-assistance program, according to the disciplinary letter. She can challenge the decision with assistance from her union.