The suspect is a King County sheriff's deputy who has been on paid administrative leave since March, pending an evaluation of his  fitness for duty.

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A Seattle police SWAT team breached several doors in a Capitol Hill apartment Wednesday afternoon, ending a 13-hour standoff involving a King County sheriff’s deputy accused of assaulting his domestic partner, according to police.

Police blocked off several blocks of Belmont Avenue north of Pine Street early Wednesday morning after the man allegedly used pepper spray on the first responding officers, said Seattle police spokesman, Detective Patrick Michaud. Negotiators were brought in and spoke with the suspect over the intervening hours before the SWAT team detonated small charges to blow the locks and sent a remote-controlled robot into the suspect’s apartment, he said.

The SWAT team arrested the suspect in the bathroom around 3 p.m. and the man was treated for cuts to his hands but was otherwise unhurt, said Michaud.

The incident began around 1:30 a.m., when the suspect’s domestic partner contacted police to report that he had been assaulted, said Michaud. He said he thinks the man reported the domestic-violence assault to officers at the department’s East Precinct, which is about eight blocks from The Granada Apartments on Belmont Avenue and East Howell Street. The victim had minor injuries, according to Michaud.

When officers approached the apartment, he allegedly slammed the door in their faces, Michaud said. Then, he used pepper spray from underneath the door, making the officers back away, according to police.

From there, police called in negotiators, who spent hours talking to the man in an attempt to get him to surrender.

“We were talking to him and it slows down at that point,” Michaud said. The incident was treated as any other “person in crisis” call, he said.

But because of the suspect is a sheriff’s deputy and reports that he had access to firearms, “we had to give it an extreme amount of distance,” said Michaud, who thanked residents who couldn’t get into their nearby apartment buildings for their patience.

The suspect was to be booked into the King County Jail and police were working to get a search warrant to search the apartment and seize any weapons, said Michaud, who didn’t know if SWAT officers saw any weapons inside.

The first breach of the apartment came just before 2 p.m., the sound of a small explosion audible from a block away. Other detonations were heard before the SWAT team went in and arrested the man in his bathroom, according to Michaud.

 

Seattle police block a section of Belmont Avenue on Capitol Hill to deal with a domestic-violence suspect, a Seattle Police Department spokesman said Wednesday. (Christine Clarridge / The Seattle Times)
Seattle police block a section of Belmont Avenue on Capitol Hill to deal with a domestic-violence suspect, a Seattle Police Department spokesman said Wednesday. (Christine Clarridge / The Seattle Times)

The suspect is a sheriff’s deputy who has been on paid administrative leave since March, pending an evaluation of his  fitness for duty, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ryan Abbott said.

Such investigations are done if there is “reasonable suspicion” that a member of the department is psychologically or physically unfit to perform his or her duties, according to a sheriff’s department manual.

No further details on the man, such as his name or age, were immediately known.

During the standoff, officers had closed the road lined with apartments from East Howell Street on the north side to south of East Olive Street. Police had set off several flash bangs, non-lethal explosives designed to disorient their targets, and called on the suspect to surrender through a public-address system.

“We don’t want anybody to get hurt, and that is our biggest concern at this point,” Michaud said early Wednesday.

Ligee George, 30, who lives on the fifth floor of The Granada building, said she had seen the deputy in uniform while riding the elevator.

“I thought it was a safe building, because he lives there,” said George.

She and another neighbor waited for hours behind yellow police tape, a block south of the standoff.

“I left at 10:30 this morning and left through the side door. There was one cop car there but I didn’t think anything of it,” George said.

Michaud said at the time police were prepared to wait hours in order to achieve “a peaceful resolution.”

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Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.