Learn from this: Court documents detail searches for May Day riot suspects

A-News. Aug 13:

From Seattle PIA bandana, a pair of Nikes, a sex offender’s chat with his corrections officer and tips from the public.

All have led police to narrow the search for those they say are responsible for the Seattle May Day violence.

Recently released police reports detail the investigation thus far. The detectives’ statements also show just the cost of the May 1 riot.

Niketown repairs totaled $52,825.74; the Wells Fargo bank at Fourth Avenue and Seneca Street had at least $25,978.13 in damage and a Verizon Wireless store had $1,905.30 in damage.

Several other businesses, including American Apparel, Home Street Bank and Bank of America had thousands of dollars in damage. Damage to city property and the old federal courthouse also cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Police say one suspect was identified after her sex offender boyfriend admitted to his corrections officer he was at the protest.

Investigators said the pair was photographed during the demonstration, though prosecutors have yet to charge either. Because the sex offender acknowledged being at the protest as a street medic and because he had red paint spatter on his clothing, “it is reasonable to believe he was either present or involved with the property damage,” a detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit.

An initial search of their bedroom turned up a bandana and backpack matching the description of the one worn by the girlfriend during the May Day riot, according the recently released search documents. A bandana and backpack were among items taken later that day after Seattle police received the warrant.

A separate suspect who had his residence searched weeks later – a man who allegedly wore Nikes while shattering a Niketown window – was identified after two people who knew details about him called police on the May Day tip line, according to the recently released public documents.

With that information, investigators say they verified his address from previous contacts with the suspect.

During a search of his residence, police say they confiscated a pair of Nikes they suspect the 27-year-old man wore while damaging the downtown Seattle Niketown. It was one of at least three searches in Seattle related to the May Day investigation.

Though some of the May Day vandalism suspects have been charged in federal court King County Superior Court, none of the suspects affiliated with three recent searches have had their cases forwarded to prosecutors.

“This is still very much an active and ongoing investigation,” Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said Thursday, noting there are additional suspects police are investigating. “Our task force with several detectives is still in place and we are working diligently to identify all those responsible for crimes during May Day and hold them responsible.”

The first of the three known Seattle police searches was May 24 at the sex offender’s Shoreline home, where his girlfriend also was. The second search was June 15 in Ballard at the Niketown suspect’s residence, and the third was July 10 at the Judkins Park rental home of at least one other suspect.

While some details of those searches have been reported, several details of what exactly led police to those homes and how specifically they gained authorization for the searches have not been.

Corrections officer helped identify suspect

During the first search on May 24, police were looking for clothing and clear plastic goggles they think the registered sex offender wore during the May Day violence.

That man pleaded guilty to communications with a minor for immoral purposes in September.

Investigators say footage reviewed by the May Day Task Force shows his girlfriend throwing a projectile at police, which hits an officer in the head before deflecting onto the head of another officer.

Law enforcement officers familiar with the sex offender’s case recognized that 21-year-old woman, police documents show.

The man’s corrections officer reported searching a bedroom dresser and finding a black bandana that appeared to be the one worn by the woman during the officer attack. A backpack the girlfriend also wore that day was also inside the home, according to police.

Detectives took their case to a Superior Court judge who reviewed police statements and photos of both the sex offender and his girlfriend allegedly at the May Day protest before authorizing the search. Police seized a black jacket, a backpack, black pants with red paint, two pair of goggles, two bandanas and a green sweatshirt.

Police: Vandalism suspect wore Nikes at Niketown

The 27-year-old man who police say wore a pair of Nike’s while vandalizing Niketown was known to officers for multiple previous contacts, according to investigation documents.

On July 12, 2011, he was suspected of shoplifting from a Ballard 7-Eleven, but was never charged. The following September, the man was a passenger in a young woman’s BMW when it was involved in a Magnolia crash.

The third incident was Oct. 16 when police say the man, who was with other Occupy Seattle protestors at Westlake Park, shoved an officer in the chest and fled. He also was not charged in that incident.

But investigation documents show two people spoke to Seattle police on the May Day tip line, giving the man’s name and details about his home.

Investigators say video shows the suspect, who wore a purple undershirt and black jeans, running from the crowd to damage a Niketown window. They also report having footage of him jumping on the rear window of a car during the riot, frightening the driver.

“Multiple photographs of (the suspect) were obtained using various databases/sources and after reviewing the images I can say with certainty (he) is the subject seen in the video and still images located by the May Day task force damaging property throughout the downtown shopping district of Seattle,” Detective Wes Friesen wrote in an investigation document.

Detectives say he also was seen striking a Bank of America window with a garbage can lid. The suspect failed to break that window, but another person spray painted an anarchist symbol on the bank. Later footage shows the Nike-clad suspect shattering a window at the Verizon Wireless store near Sixth Avenue and Olive Way, police say.

A King County Superior Court judge approved a search of his three-bedroom Ballard home.

Police seized a purple shirt form his bedroom, black jeans, two purple scarves, alleged anarchist solidarity paperwork, a backpack, two belts, a notebook, a Washington driver’s license and an envelope with the suspect’s address.

Police say they also took the pair of black Nike’s with red spots he’s suspected of wearing while vandalizing Niketown.

Third search

During the May Day riots, the third suspect who had his home searched kicked an officer in the way “that someone would do when trying to blow out a knee,” Friesen wrote in an investigation document. The 23-year-old man allegedly kicked the officer as his attention was directed to a hostile crowd and investigators believe it was done to cause significant injury.

“There are multiple images of (the suspect) throughout the day’s events on 05-01-2012 attempting to change/alter his identity by using different variations of his clothing,” Friesen wrote. “It should be noted that multiple detectives reviewed a very large quantity of footage and at no time was any other subject seen wearing the unique clothing that (the suspect) was seen wearing.”

That 23-year-old is believed to have fled from American Apparel wearing black goggles, police said.

Police authorized surveillance from outside the suspect’s home in Judkins Park more than two weeks before their June search.

Investigation documents show the items seized during the July 10 search were: black goggles, a black sweatshirt with white strings, a pink scarf, a notebook, a black bandana, a back stocking hat, paperwork about anarchists in the occupy movement, a black glove and paperwork about a strike on May 1.

A blog report about the search by The Dissenter said the sweatshirt belonged to the suspect’s girlfriend and a pamphlet taken was something that could have been picked up at any Occupy action. That blog also reported a pair of sunglasses was taken, but that is not listed in the search warrant return, which is a public document.

The Stranger spoke to one of the men at the Judkins Park residence when it was searched, and the search warrant return shows four people were present that day. Read the Stranger account here.

Further Reading:


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