Alex Randall said King County Sheriff John Urquhart called him after seeing the video and said, “This is wrong and everybody feels terrible about it.”
Motorcyclist Alex Randall, of Shoreline, doesn’t believe he was riding unsafely when he was confronted by a gun-wielding detective with the King County Sheriff’s Office this month.
But even if he was “driving reckless,” as the detective claimed, Randall said it was alarming and unnecessary for the law-enforcement officer to point his gun at the 31-year-old rider while he sat on his bike at a traffic light.
“I still get clammy hands when I watch it,” Randall said of the video. “It was so terrifying.”
The detective’s boss, Sheriff John Urquhart, apparently agreed.
Randall said the sheriff called him Monday just hours after Randall uploaded the video of the unusual traffic stop to YouTube.
“Urquhart didn’t waffle,” Randall said. “He said, ‘No, this is wrong and everybody feels terrible about it.’ ”
In a post on his personal Facebook page, Urquhart wrote Tuesday that he was “deeply disturbed with the conduct and tactics that were recorded.”
“Drawing your weapon on someone when investigating a misdemeanor traffic offense is not routine,” he continued.
The detective was identified Wednesday as Richard Rowe, 53. He has been placed on paid administrative leave while his actions are investigated.
Rowe is assigned to the Woodinville Police Department. The City of Woodinville contracts with the sheriff’s office for police services.
He did not return calls seeking comment.
Randall, who works in IT for a Seattle finance company, has logged 100,000 miles on various bikes he’s owned over the past 10 years, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
He admitted that he has exceeded the speed limit on many occasions, and has shared images on social media of himself shooting the bird at what he calls “passive-aggressive” slowdown signs affixed to utility poles in his neighborhood.
But those pictures were supposed to be a joke online, he said.
“Yes, I speed sometimes. No, I am not reckless,” he said. “I’ve laid my bike down, but I’ve never been in a multicar accident.”
In the video, which was taken with a helmet-mounted GoPro on Aug. 16, Randall’s Yamaha YZF-R1 pulls up behind other vehicles at a stoplight at the intersection of North 145th Street and 5th Avenue Northeast at the border of Shoreline and Seattle.
Rowe, the detective, appears, on foot, on the rider’s left side with a handgun tucked in tight to his chest and pointed at Randall.
Rowe, who appears to startle the motorcyclist, does not immediately identify himself as an officer but says, “How ya’ doing?”
The rider curses, and then says, “What are you doing to me?”
“What do you mean what am I doing?” Rowe replies. “You’re (expletive) driving reckless. Give me your driver’s license or I’m going to knock you off this bike.”
“I will pull over. I am unarmed,” the rider said.
In the exchange that follows, Rowe repeatedly asks the rider for identification, threatens to “dump” the bike if it’s moved and then takes the rider’s wallet from his left pocket.
The rider tells Rowe several times that he cannot hear through the helmet and asks for permission to move the bike off the roadway, turn it off or take off his helmet. Rowe’s vehicle can be seen in a part of the video, and it appears his emergency lights are activated.
“I’m sorry. You have a gun drawn on me … I’m a little panicked,” the rider says.
“Yeah, you’re right, because I’m the police,” Rowe said. “That’s right. When you’re driving and you’re going to place people at risk at 100 mph-plus on the god-dang roadway.”
After looking at the Randall’s ID, Rowe puts his gun away, says he’s with the sheriff’s office and then tells the rider that reckless driving is “an arrestable offense.”
Randall said he never heard a siren.
He said that Rowe did not display a badge or give his name. He also did not issue Randall a ticket.
“I think he saw the camera and he became extremely cordial,” Randall said.
Randall said he showed the video to a few friends, including some who work in law enforcement, and they suggested he contact police to report the incident.
He then posted a frame of the video on Reddit as he considered what to do. He contacted a few lawyers, who told him he could not sue for damages as he’d not been injured, but urged him to go to the media. One of the attorneys also filed public-disclosure requests that helped him discover the name of the detective and learn that no use-of-force report had been filed after the encounter.
“The fact that he didn’t fill out a use-of-force report tells me he knows he was wrong,” Randall said.
Randall said the only reason he posted the video on YouTube and sought more attention was because he became convinced that the officer “would do it again” if there were no consequences. He said Rowe was exaggerating when he claimed Randall had been going more than 100 mph.
Randall surmised that he might have angered or scared Rowe when he “turned at the corner, changed lanes and then maybe zipped in front of him.”
Nevertheless, he said he felt he was being cautious on his motorcycle.
“If I was doing something unsafe, I would accept a ticket and be punished through the judicial system,” he said. “I don’t believe in officers taking the law into their own hands and trying to scare and intimidate people.”