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Fri Jul 30, 2021, 07:32 AM

Seattle police commander files $5.48 million claim, alleging Chief Diaz falsely blamed him

Seattle Times

Seattle police commander files $5.48 million claim, alleging Chief Diaz falsely blamed him for ‘pink umbrella incident’

A recently demoted Seattle police commander has filed a $5.48 million discrimination and retaliation claim against the city, alleging that interim police Chief Adrian Diaz made him the scapegoat for what became a seminal moment of last year’s police clashes with racial justice demonstrators: the so-called “pink umbrella incident.”

Capt. Steve Hirjak contends in the claim, filed Thursday, that Diaz demoted and falsely blamed him for the improper actions of another commander, Lt. John Brooks, who gave riot-gear clad officers the orders to unleash tear gas and blast balls into a largely peaceful crowd on Capitol Hill on June 1, 2020.

The heavy-handed police tactics, captured on multiple videos that were shared widely and drew public outrage, erupted outside the department’s East Precinct after an officer’s tug of war with a protester over a pink umbrella.

Hirjak, 51, a 27-year veteran who became the department’s first Asian American assistant chief in 2018, contends his May 26 demotion and other mistreatment have marred his otherwise stellar career, “discriminated against me on account of my race and treated me differently from similarly situated white employees.”

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