Video investigation topic of police candidate interviews

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by TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on May 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM

Updated Saturday, May 8 at 5:43 PM

SEATTLE - Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz says he has not yet personally viewed a videotape showing an officer appearing to kick a man and yelling a racial slur.  Diaz says he wants to get the results of the full investigation into the incident, that was caught on tape on April 17. 

In an interview with KING5, Diaz said he does not want to prejudge the incident, but wants to ensure the community and other officers that the investigatory process is fair and transparent. 

"At the end of the day, I'm going to be the one making the final decision on what needs to occur on this and I want to make sure I get the full view of the full investigation of what has occurred," said Diaz. 

He says he is appalled by the allegations, and goes on to denounce racial slurs. 

"Do I think its going to cause some damage?  Absolutely.  Let me make this clear:  Any time the use of a racial slur, there is no excuse for it in any way, shape or form."  

In the interview, Diaz refers to his own Latino heritage, but says that he believes the "overwhelming majority of our officers... would feel exactly the same way."

However, if a member of the Police Chief Search Committee prevails, Diaz and all other candidates for Seattle's top cop job will be forced to watch the video and discuss how they would handle the incident. 

Activist Roberto Maestas is the only Latino on the committee interviewing nine candidiates for the Police Chief job.  He said he planned to bring the video to today's candidate interviews. 

"The committee is going to be more attentive to how the new chief of police is going to deal with misconduct, with racial misconduct," said Maestas.

Late Friday night, Office Sandy Cobane held a press conference in which he apologized for his language heard in the video.  "I know my words cut deep and were very hurtful," a tearful Cobane said.  In the video, Cobane is heard yelling a racial slur to a man lying on a sidewalk.  He and another officer appear to kick the man. 

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