SEATTLE, Wash. – An officer who reportedly lied about his whereabouts in order to camp out at the workplace of a civilian who had “disrespected” him will not be fired from his department.
The officer instead faces a 30-day unpaid suspension.
In February of 2018, Seattle Police Officer Frank Poblocki was involved in a situation that required the towing of a vehicle. According to body cam video that was released, Poblocki complained to another officer that he “got a little disrespected” as the vehicle owner and his girlfriend slung insults and curses at him during the event.
After the event, Poblocki then reportedly drove to the man’s work, an AutoZone store, pulled up a chair in the parking lot outside the business, and sat for approximately 40 minutes while apparently waiting for an apology.
The footage allegedly shows a witness confront Poblocki roughly 20 minutes into his time in the parking lot. The civilian tells the officer that he’d heard why he was there and considered it “harassment”. Poblocki simply replies, “Okay,” and provides his name and badge number. That man’s complains led to the initial investigation.
When department leaders questioned him about it, Poblocki denied going looking for the man.
Poblocki also allegedly lied about what he was doing in the area, saying he was there for “preventative maintenance,” and to interact with “people in the plaza” and be “approachable.”
“Those statements were dishonest,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best wrote in a statement following the investigation. Poblocki was demoted from Sergeant to Officer by Best following the incident last year. He was also given a 15-day suspension.
The witness reportedly questioned the motivation behind the encounter, asking “whether the same treatment would be given to a citizen if … they and the community were predominantly white.”
Poblocki wrote off those allegations, noting that he was in a mixed-raced marriage.
OPA officials recently questioned the validity of his statements and launched a new investigation.
Poblocki was just handed a 30-day suspension, which is the most severe punishment that can be dealt to an officer other than termination. He has reportedly appealed the decision.
But some are saying that the policies set by the Seattle Police Officers Guild should lead to a more severe punishment from the department head.
— John de Leon (@DeLeon_Times) June 1, 2019
“In the case of an officer receiving a sustained complaint involving dishonesty in the course of the officer’s official duties or relating to the administration of justice, a presumption of termination shall apply,” the policy says.
Chief Best stands by her officer. She said the suspension was the “right thing to do” after consulting with other commanding officials. Disciplinary options ranging from a 30-day suspension to termination were presented to Best by Andrew Myerberg, the department’s civilian director of the Office of Police Accountability (OPA).
“OPA serves a central role in police accountability and it relies on officers responding honestly and fully to its inquiries,” she wrote. “Ultimately, in light of all the specific factors in this case, I have determined that a 30-day suspension is the appropriate outcome.”
Poblocki has previously been suspended for improper citizen contacts, according to police documents. Myerberg detailed Poblocki’s reputation in the department and on the street.
The investigation “concerns a young police officer dealing with gang activity in Los Angeles. The officer, who is nicknamed ‘Pac Man,’ aggressively and violently interacts with gang members and is, accordingly, notorious throughout the neighborhood,” Myerberg wrote.
The Seattle Times reported that ‘additional records released Thursday reveal that Poblocki likened himself to a hotheaded Los Angeles police officer played by Sean Penn in the 1988 movie “Colors,” when he alerted two patrol officers under his command of his plans to go the man’s workplace.’
“2 questions for you guys … Have you seen the movie Colors/if not, that’s your homework,” Poblocki wrote, also noting that he planned on showing up at the man’s workplace because “this guy was talking a lot of smack and I will not be dissuaded.”
Best said she couldn’t comment further because Poblocki has appealed the suspension.
“We’ll have to wait for the appeal to play out and see where it lands,” Best said.