SEATTLE —In a statement released on Friday, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz addressed the recent controversy surrounding a police officer who made racist comments against his Chinese neighbor while off-duty.
In the statement, Diaz called out racist language as “completely unacceptable and is inconsistent with the high standards the department sets for its employees.” He later added “racist comments and behavior by department employees will not be tolerated.”
The Northwest Asian Weekly was first tipped off to the harassment of Zhen Jin in February but she was reluctant to go on the record as she has limited English skills and also feared for her safety since the alleged aggressors, Burton Hill, is a police officer, and his wife, Agnes Miggins, is the president of the neighborhood HOA.
Zhen lives with and takes care of her blind, elderly Palestinian-American uncle in Kenmore. In documents filed for a protection order earlier this year, the uncle stated, “I have heard Agnes treat Zhen with contempt and accuse her of terrible things that are not true. This has created an atmosphere of fear… I have heard Agnes’ partner threaten Zhen with jail and call her a ‘f—ing Chink.”
In court documents, Zhen said Miggins “made it a point to tell me that her husband is a police officer. He carries a gun daily, which is very frightening to me. The two of them told me, ‘You’re going to jail.’”
The incident came to light when an audio recording containing derogatory comments made by Officer Hill was brought to the attention of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). Chief Diaz placed the officer on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
In his statement, Diaz expressed his concern about the delay in uncovering the offensive remarks, stating, “Not knowing about this for one year causes me concern.” As a result, he has instructed his staff to conduct a thorough review of the officer’s arrest and investigation history.
“Racist comments and behavior by department employees will not be tolerated,” Diaz said.
The Chief extended his apologies to Zhen and acknowledged the necessity of rebuilding trust between the SPD and the people it serves.