911 audio reveals Seattle police allowed domestic abuse suspect to drive off with victim in car, would not pursue vehicle

Washington's Democratic-controlled state legislature passed HB201 in 2021 which increased the standards for police pursuits and stops from a "reasonable suspicion" to a "probable cause" that the driver committed a serious crime.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
911 audio recordings have revealed that Seattle police let a domestic violence suspect flee with the victim still in the car, thanks to a Democratic-passed law that prevents police pursuits.

According to audio obtained by Safe Seattle, last June a Seattle woman dialed 911 after her boyfriend allegedly started threatening her with physical violence. She didn't end the call, and as a result, the 911 recording captured the boyfriend's tirade.

The victim, whose name is being withheld, can be heard in the recording begging to be released from the boyfriend's grip so she can get her child. He then threatens to punch her in the face and threatens to "put her to sleep" if she moves.

During the recording, the boyfriend allegedly dragged the victim to his vehicle and drove away, with the woman's phone still relaying everything to the 911 operator. However, it is unclear who was driving the vehicle.

911 dispatched a unit to follow the vehicle, which was able to be tracked through the phone's GPS locator.

In the recording, sirens can be heard, likely behind the vehicle. The vehicle stops and the officer uses his PA system to tell the driver to shut off the engine. However, the driver refuses and the boyfriend can be heard yelling at the woman to flee and drive like she's crazy, likely knowing that as a result, the officer will be unable to pursue, thanks to Washington state pursuit laws.
The sirens can be heard shutting off and on another recording obtained by Safe Seattle, the officer can be heard telling 911 that he is not going to continue the pursuit.

On the victim's 911 call, she can be heard crying while the boyfriend is yelling at her to keep driving and blames her for the short police pursuit.

Luckily the woman was later found safe in her apartment by police in response to a request from the victim’s mother.

Washington's Democratic-controlled state legislature passed HB201 in 2021 which increased the standards for police pursuits and stops from a "reasonable suspicion" to a "probable cause" that the driver committed a serious crime. After a massive spike in suspects fleeing police after criminals discovered police would not pursue them, the law was slightly modified. However, officers told Safe Seattle they are still hesitant to pursue a vehicle unless they witness the driver committing a serious crime, fearing punishment or backlash from elected officials who oppose police efforts to stop crime. 

Additionally, SPD previously banned all pursuits unless the officer has had special training. At the time the ban was implemented, sources told The Post Millennial that the majority of officers did not have the required training and it could be months before they did. A source told the outlet that SPD supervisors have also been reluctant to approve any pursuits.

In a statement to The Post Millennial, an SPD spokesperson cited the department's latest policies on pursuits and said, "Supervisors/Officers when initiating/terminating pursuits and must act on the information they have at the timeThey must weigh the risk to any person(s) against the need to stop the eluding vehicle and sworn employees and supervisors must consider alternatives to pursuits."
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