The city of Tukwila will pay $175,000 to an African-American man who overheard a white officer say, “This one isn’t going to play basketball anymore,” after his ankle was stomped on and broken during a violent 2011 arrest.
The city of Tukwila will pay $175,000 to an African-American man who overheard a white officer say: “This one isn’t going to play basketball anymore,” after his ankle was stomped on and broken during a violent 2011 arrest.
It is the second six-figure payout by Tukwila stemming from actions by former Officer Nicholas Hogan. The city paid $100,000 to another man in 2013 after Hogan broke his arm during an arrest and then tried to cover it up, according to court documents.
Tukwila fired Hogan after the 2013 arrest, but not before other incidents involving his use of force and concerns about Hogan’s affiliation with a radical anti-drug group.
His involvement in that group, “Straight Edge,” sent up red flags for other police agencies where he had applied. Four agencies rejected Hogan as an officer before he was hired by Tukwila in 2009, according to court records.
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Hogan is currently an officer for the city of Snoqualmie, which did not respond to two requests for comment on its decision to hire Hogan or his performance on the police force there.
In pursuing a federal civil-rights lawsuit on behalf of the man whose ankle was broken, Robert Turner, attorneys turned up evidence of Hogan’s affiliation with Straight Edge, which is considered a gang by some law-enforcement agencies, according to court documents. The movement had its beginnings as a backlash to the excesses of the punk-rock movement of the 1980s and ’90s.
Some Straight Edge followers have used violence and intimidation to advocate a drug-free lifestyle, and Hogan — while denying any adult involvement with the movement — was reportedly rough on people he suspected of being intoxicated, according to court filings, officer depositions and documents.
A tattoo reading “Straight Edge XXX” on Hogan’s chest was recognized by the National Gang Research Center as being used by “hardcore … members.” The tattoos were described by a Bellevue police detective as “gang-like in style, font and format,” according to court documents.
Turner’s lawsuit turned up information that Hogan’s application to be a police officer had been rejected by four other agencies before he was hired by Tukwila. Detectives from two of those agencies, in Seattle and Bellevue, conducted background checks on Hogan and were concerned enough to pass on their findings to Tukwila.
The court documents indicate that Bellevue concluded Hogan had not been truthful about his Straight Edge affiliation, and the Seattle detective wrote a report in which he expressed “deep concerns” that Hogan’s tattoos implied “radical fringe-group affiliation,” according to information contained in the lawsuit.
Two other agencies, Fife and Tacoma police, also declined to hire Hogan.
Tukwila, in court documents responding to the lawsuit, acknowledged that Hogan’s affiliation with Straight Edge was “an area of concern,” but hired him anyway in 2009.
In the two years he was on the streets, according to court documents, Hogan racked up more arrests — and more incidents using force — than any other Tukwila officer. His aggressive demeanor and temper were repeatedly reported to Tukwila supervisors by his colleagues, according to the lawsuit.
One fellow Tukwila patrol officer stated Hogan “seemed like he took it as a personal affront when people consumed alcohol and drugs,” according to court documents.
Around 11 p.m. on April 16, 2011, Turner and about a dozen members of a Tukwila-based car club, The Family Ties, were having a gathering at Turner’s home when police were called to a report of gunshots. Officers found a party with alcohol, but no firearms and no shell-casings or other indication that guns were present, according to reports.
Still, one of Turner’s guests was detained by Hogan for reportedly using foul language.
Turner said he approached the officer to see if he could be of assistance, and Hogan responded by ordering him to stop. Turner said he did, but that Hogan approached him and pushed him in the chest.
Turner said the officer slipped and fell, jumped right back up and took a swing at him.
Turner said he dropped to the ground “because he didn’t want the officer to think he was trying to fight,” but was accosted by Hogan and other officers who used a Taser on him twice and pepper-sprayed him. Hogan, or another officer, reportedly stomped on his ankle, breaking it with a loud snap, the lawsuit alleges
Turner also suffered a dislocated finger.
On hearing the snap, Turner said Hogan made the comment about playing basketball, and then forced him to walk to the patrol car. Witnesses reported Turner screamed in pain with every step he took.
Hogan then took Turner to jail, which declined to book him because he was injured.
Turner said Hogan eventually took him to Harborview Medical Center, nearly 2½ hours after the incident, where he underwent surgery that required hardware and screws to stabilize his ankle.
Peter Mullenix, one of Turner’s attorneys, said his medical bills exceeded $50,000.
In his report, Hogan claimed Turner had assaulted him, and charges were filed but later voluntarily dismissed by the city prosecutor, Mullenix said.
Neither Hogan nor any other officers were disciplined for the incident involving Turner, Mullenix said. But he said Hogan was fired after two other incidents in which he used force against intoxicated African-American men, including one man who was reportedly pepper-sprayed while restrained hand and foot on a gurney at Harborview Medical Center, according to reports.
Turner was one of two officers named in a federal lawsuit filed in 2013 by Alvin Walker, who claimed Hogan broke his elbow while handcuffing him. Discrepancies in Hogan’s version of events, coupled with dash-camera video, resulted in the city’s settling that claim for $100,000 the following year, according to court documents.