Washington Coalition for Police Accountability (WCPA) 

The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is organized around families who have lost loved ones to police violence. Families, community organizations, and activists working collaborative to create legislative policies in Washington State to end police violence. Members commit time and resources, relationships, and expertise to advocate for legislation.We are focused on reducing fatal police shootings, reducing violence, changing the laws that govern the use of force, and rebuilding trust between our communities and the police.

A Comprehensive Approach:

A Comprehensive Approach to Address Police Violence and Build Community Trust
The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is organized around families who have lost loved ones to police violence. WCPA’s mission is to develop and advocate for adoption of policies that are informed by the experiences of people who have directly experienced the consequences of police use of unnecessary, excessive, and deadly force. Our members five priorities are directly related to injustices experienced by these families. The many families who are giving hours of their time advocating at the state legislature have seen the system and experienced its inhumanity. We want other families to have a real chance at justice and for Washington State to be a safer place for everyone.

WCPA’s five 2021:

Our priorities represent critical first steps that are necessary to begin to transform policing
culture in Washington and prevent future violent encounters between police and members of the public. We greatly appreciate the close and collaborative work many state legislators have contributed to developing these reforms. We are advocating to:

First, clarify the public’s expectations for officer behavior
Ban excessively violent tactics, like neck restraints, police dogs, tear gas, no knock warrants,
shooting at moving vehicles, hot pursuits, and militarization.
HB 1054, with prime sponsor Rep. Jesse Johnson.
Require de-escalation as the first response and deadly force as the last resort.
HB 1310, with prime sponsor Rep. Jesse Johnson.
Next, enhance the public’s ability to incentivize better hiring, training, and supervision by removing barriers to civil liability for violating the standards of officer behavior.
Remove barriers to filing civil cases and enforcing the duty to de-escalate,
HB 1202, with prime sponsor Rep. My-Linh Thai.
Finally, build the public’s confidence in government systems for holding officers accountable.
Promote transparency and accountability through independent criminal investigations and
independent prosecutions. HB 1267, with prime sponsor Rep. Debra Entenman.
Address serious misconduct of officers by taking away their licenses. SB 5051, with prime sponsor Senator Jamie Pedersen.

These five priorities paint a picture of how police culture must change, and the processes to assure that happens. Together these priorities set out the expectations and the rules by which the community expects law enforcement to operate, and then lays out the processes to use when law enforcement breaks these rules/ Law. It is fair to say that every family has experiences that touch on each of the priorities. As a package, these five bills represent system-based problem solving. The interactions with police on the street must be addressed, and that is HB 1054 and HB 1310. When those norms are violated, investigations into crimes are addressed by HB 1267 and HB 1202 is an important tool for civil accountability for wrongdoing. And lastly, the ability of police to stay in the profession is addressed in SB 5051. These work together to make a stronger system that protects the community and improves the profession.

Second, our work involves bringing forward the truth, and the experiences of these families have informed and shaped the policies:

  • Giovonn Joseph McDade was unarmed when he was killed. The vehicular pursuit was unnecessary, officers escalated the situation. Shooting officer is now a trainer at the CJTC.
  • Daniel Covarrubias was holding a cell phone when he was killed and the officers took no effort to use de-escalation tactics.
  • Shaun Fuhr was holding his child and running away from police when he was killed. There were other alternatives that day that would have kept Shaun alive.
  • Charleena Lyles, who weighed under 100 pounds, was in her apartment with her children when Seattle Police Officers shot her dead. Police allege she was holding a paring knife.
  • Carlos Hunter was shot while seat belted in his car, dragged to the ground, handcuffed, and left to bleed to death. The police found no evidence of a crime in their search of his home or car and Carlos was the third Vancouver resident killed in a three week stretch.
  • Leonard Thomas was unarmed, holding his son, when a sniper shot him. The Officers who killed Leonard Thomas provided false statements to the federal court, yet all of these officers have been promoted.
  • Jesse Sarey was killed by an officer who had multiple complaints of excessive force and had killed 2 other victims.
  • Stonechild Chiefstick The officer who killed made no effort to de-escalate and instead rushed him and killed him. He was alleged to have had a screwdriver.
  • Renee Davis’s The officers who arrived at door were there for a well person check, yet they killed her.
  • Che Taylor Seattle Police gave conflicting commands, and he had his hands up when they shot him and left him to bleed to death. He was unarmed.
  • Kevin Peterson Jr. was shot in the back while running away, did not fire a single shot, yet police claimed he fired first, and immediately posted this misinformation on their website.
  • Manuel Ellis The 2020 killing of in Tacoma shows Tacoma and Pierce County Law Enforcement have not yet been able to do a credible independent investigation of police homicides. that these jurisdictions have been resistant to change, despite the unnecessary death of Jackie Salyers, and the passage of I-940.
  • Joel Nelson’s death in 2016 should have been a wake-up call to the Thurston County Sheriff to have a transparent process for investigations, yet five years later the Sheriff continues to work in an environment where there are conflicts of interest due to working relationships and family relationships.

Many of these families have filed litigation in federal court for violations of their civil rights,
having no good options in state court to hold police and police departments accountable.
WCPA believes that life is sacred. We believe in the dignity and rights of all people. These experiences point to an urgent need to fix a system that accepts the continued loss of life. We believe that working together, we can make a difference.

Leave a Reply