A veteran Seattle police officer has been fired after an internal investigation found he repeatedly made derogatory and discriminatory comments about women, gay people and people of color in remarks and texts to his former girlfriend and her son.
Todd Novisedlak, 55, who joined the Seattle Police Department in 1993, also was found to have physically abused his ex-girlfriend and used marijuana in violation of department policy, based on witness statements from the ex-girlfriend, her son and her daughter.
Novisedlak is not identified by name in findings listed in a closed-case summary posted Feb. 20 on the department’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) website. But a department source confirmed he was the officer referred to in the report and recently fired. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The incidents investigated by OPA reportedly occurred in 2015 and 2016. The incidents were not reported until 2018, after the ex-girlfriend’s son returned from a military deployment.
The son’s story was corroborated by his sister and the officer’s ex-girlfriend. They alleged he had assaulted the woman several times and had routinely made racist and sexist remarks in comments and texts.
In a text obtained by the OPA, Novisedlak referred to a newly assigned officer to his squad as “an angry Black lesbian,” and in messages provided to the OPA, he called a female Seattle police employee “that crazy SPD whore.”
Novisedlak also made racist remarks, including using the N-word, referring to his African American sergeant as a “monkey,” and describing another officer as a “lazy Mexican,” according to the OPA findings.
Novisedlak either denied making the statements or said he didn’t remember them, according to the OPA summary. But he contended that if he did make the statements, they would have been in private conversations, the summary says.
In his defense, Novisedlak said he had reported an incident of domestic assault to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and told deputies his girlfriend was the aggressor. He claimed that at one point she attempted to grab his handgun during a struggle and that he had to take it away from her. He also produced a witness — a former Tacoma police officer — who claimed that he had run into Novisedlak’s ex-girlfriend at a Walmart and that she had told him she was going to destroy her ex’s career.
However, the OPA investigation revealed that Novisedlak had called Pierce County the following day and recanted much of that story. As for the friend, the OPA investigators said his story could not be confirmed and that his vague responses about when and where it happened raised questions about his credibility.
OPA Director Andrew Myerberg, in his findings and report to Police Chief Carmen Best, concluded Novisedlak “did, in fact, make pejorative and discriminatory statements toward women, homosexuals, and persons of color on numerous occasions.
“I further find that his bias was so significant that it permeated his work as a police officer,” the OPA director concluded.
The ex-girlfriend alleged Novisedlak physically abused her on a number of occasions, including grabbing her throat and jaw. She and her daughter said they witnessed Novisedlak frequently use marijuana, and the daughter alleged they smoked it together.
Chief Best fired Novisedlak after upholding the OPA’s findings. Her decision also included a finding in a previous case that he engaged in unprofessional behavior toward a supervisor.
Novisedlak has been involved in department controversy before. In 2015, a mistake Novisedlak made during the investigation into an attempted kidnapping resulted in a $35,000 settlement to an African American man who was improperly identified and wrongly arrested for the crime.