Sheriff’s detective under investigation for social media posts about Seattle protesters

Sheriff’s detective under investigation for social media posts about Seattle protesters
Authorities are investigating social media posts made by King County sheriff's Det. Mike Brown following the death of a protester on Interstate 5 on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (ofc pictures/Getty Images/iStockphoto, File)

KING COUNTY, Washington — A King County sheriff’s detective is under investigation for social media posts that seem to make light of a deadly crash that claimed the life of a protester over the weekend on Interstate 5 in Seattle.

In the hours following the crash early Saturday, Detective Mike Brown, with the King County Sheriff’s Office, posted a meme on Facebook that shows people getting hit by a truck and the words “All Lives Splatter,” according to KIRO-TV.

“This has taken priority with me,” Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht told the news station. “I’ve asked the undersheriff to make sure that our internal investigation command understands this is their top priority right now.”

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Johanknecht said her office received multiple complaints Sunday night. On Monday morning, she ordered that an internal investigation into Brown’s posts be expedited.

The sheriff said the investigation will include other sheriff’s office employees who may have participated by reacting or commenting on the posts. She wouldn’t say how many posts were under investigation.

Although Brown’s page has been taken down, KIRO-TV found another post in which he wrote, “I see a couple of people got infected with Covid-19 from the hood of a car on I-5 last night.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee took to Twitter to criticize the posts and identified Brown as his cousin.

Johanknecht declined to comment on whether she was worried that Brown’s posts could further erode public trust because they appear to either engage or celebrate violence.

“I don’t want to speak specifically about the posts now,” she told KIRO-TV. “Like I said, it’s a longer story to tell you about how our internal investigations take place, the involvement of oversight with them and interviews, so I don’t want to quantify something that’s currently under investigation and, thereby, potentially damage our ability to do a proper investigation.”

The sheriff said Brown is assigned to executive protection detail and has been with the sheriff’s office for more than 40 years.

The Rev. Harriet Walden, with Mothers for Police Accountability, called the situation “awful” in light of Brown’s tenure with the sheriff’s office.

“The heart is the center of your character, and that is his character,” Walden said. “So now, let’s find out how many complaints he has. The door’s open.”

Although the investigation has been expedited, Johanknecht declined to an estimate as to when it will be complete.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.