SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane police officer who was involved in a controversial arrest issued an apology to the community for his language Wednesday evening.
A use of force complaint was filed against the officers who arrested Lucas Ellerman in February.
The Internal Affairs investigation found that K9 officer Dan Lesser violated policy when he didn't start his body camera at the start of the chase and in his language and demeanor in speaking with Ellerman. Officer Mark Brownell was also found to have violated body camera policy.
In a statement issued through the Spokane Police Guild Lesser said:
My choice of language and words during the arrest of Mr. Ellerman in February of this year eroded the community trust and support our department has worked so hard to earn and maintain. With this letter I want to sincerely apologize to all of you for the negative light I have placed on our department. During the extremely dangerous arrest, I used unprofessional language in my effort to avoid using lethal force. I know the language I used reflects negatively on me, and equally as important on my co-workers and department.
I have reached out to Chief Meidl and offered to address our rollcalls and to mentor fellow department members in an effort to have others learn from my actions. I am proud to be a member of the Spokane Police Department, and proud of my 24 years of service to the community. I truly hope to make amends for the negative light I have placed on the department.
The February arrest led to the Spokane City Council and the Spokane Police Department being at odds over the release of the footage amid concerns over the use of the K9. City Council President Ben Stuckart told KREM the police department asked council members to sign a non-disclosure agreement to view the footage, which all members refused to do.
During the arrest, Lesser told Ellerman, "Don't f------ move," and "I'll f------ kill you. You're f------ dead." He also told Ellerman that a dog will be used if he doesn't comply.
The Spokane Police Guild also issued a statement regarding Lesser’s conduct.
Despite the intense and rapidly evolving circumstances surrounding the potentially lethal use of force Ofc. Dan Lesser was involved in February of this year, the language he used could only be viewed as unprofessional and unacceptable.
While Ofc. Lesser has taken responsibility for his unprincipled behavior in this incident, we, the Spokane Police Guild, feel it is important to affirm to our community that we hold ourselves to the high standard residents and visitors expect and deserve from us; every day, every contact, and every call for service. Because of this, we apologize for the unbefitting speech used during this encounter. We support Ofc. Lesser's desire to take a critical look at this incident with his fellow officers, through discussions during shift rollcalls and receiving mentorship opportunities when possible, so we can all learn from what happened.
The officers of the Spokane Police Guild endeavor to provide each member of our community with the best and most professional service possible; this time we fell short. We strive to learn from each encounter, both positive and negative, and appreciate the feedback we've already received from community members about this incident. We hear you.
Thank you all for your continued support of our members, as well as the rest of the Spokane Police personnel who work to serve you every day.