Seattle U Student Not a Perpetrator in Uber Assault

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Seattle U Student Not a Perpetrator in Uber Assault

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

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The Seattle University Department of Public Safety (DPS) has confirmed that no Seattle U students were involved in the attempted robbery on April 1. After three perpetrators assaulted an Uber driver, tried to steal her phone, and pulled on her headscarf, the three people fled to Vi Hilbert Hall, where they could be seen on video footage walking through the student apartment building.

DPS Director Craig Birklid had previously said that to his knowledge, the investigation had been deactivated. However, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has confirmed with The Spectator that the case is still active, with an officer assigned to the investigation.

A Seattle U student had swiped into the building to let the three people in, and when officers from the SPD interviewed that student, he told them that he had been one of the perpetrators in the Uber, but he then backtracked and said that he had heard about the incident from his friends.

“With the information that we have at this point, the resident of Vi Hilbert was not in any way directly involved with the assault,” DPS Director Craig Birklid said.

While this may come as a relief to many in the Seattle U community, the student and Vi Hilbert Hall resident may have some sort of association with the confirmed perpetrators; the three individuals obtained access into Vi Hilbert Hall, which is only accessible to residents.

“They were associated with the other people who were involved in the assault,” Birklid added.

Birklid also provided The Spectator with photographs of the three perpetrators, with their faces clearly shown. Two out of the three perpetrators appear to be wearing clothing bearing the University of Washington logo. The department has not sent these photographs out to the entire university community. It is unclear why DPS made this decision.

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR
EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

 

Last week, DPS sent out an email regarding police activity on campus after a separate incident and included a photo of a restrained individual— the inclusion of the photo stirred controversy and prompted an email apology by the department the very next morning.

In the early hours of April 28, an aggravated assault took place near Swedish First Hill Hospital. The perpetrator assaulted people at the hospital then fled to the Seattle U campus. The perpetrator was quickly located and taken into custody on the grounds of the Campion Tea Garden by DPS officers. SPD officers arrived at the scene shortly after, where the individual was arrested.

The controversy arose regarding what occurred next: a DPS officer took a photo of the individual, a black man whose hands were restrained behind his back, and who was sitting at the feet of an SPD officer. The photo was included in the official report sent by DPS early the next morning, where the incident was debriefed followed by the photo.

Birklid noted that although it is not uncommon to photograph people considered dangerous to the campus community, this particular incident did not warrant the inclusion of the photo in the DPS email.

“The photo and the impact were compromising, at least in my opinion. [The individual] was apparent next to a police officer and that information was not helpful to the campus community,” he said.

In other situations, Birklid said photos prove helpful.

“We send out photos of people if it’s in the interest of trying to identify people or someone engaged in criminal activity—so if you see someone in a photo you can contact someone about it,” Birklid said. “Or if we think this person, because of their past, is likely to be back on our campus, of course we want to share that photo with the community.”

The next morning, another email was sent out. In it, Birklid explained DPS’s policy surrounding photos and apologized for the unnecessary inclusion of the photo.

“The inclusion of the photo is prejudicial, especially given that the subject had been taken into custody and there was no risk to the community,” Birklid said in the email. “We will endeavor to provide better communications and to better reflect our mission values.”

Nicole may be reached at
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