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Seattle OPA investigation into SPD officer Eric Whitehead almost completed

The officer was put under investigation after an emergency room incident was reported on social media.



SEATTLE] – (MTN) The Seatle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) opened an investigation into officer Eric Whitehead after a January 15, 2021 incident where he refused to wear a mask at an area hospital. In a follow-up with the OPA, a spokesperson told Malcontent News that the investigation is nearly complete and a report will be issued within two weeks.

Officer Whitehead was at an area hospital to get a statement from an assault victim and refused to wear a mask. According to a nurse in the emergency department, the officer “blatantly refused” to put a mask on despite COVID positive patients nearby and standing in a “high traffic” hallway.

The staff at the unnamed hospital gave the officer masks multiple times, that he repeatedly threw away. The nurse escalated to the Charge Nurse after the officer became belligerent, and was “condescending” with her. The Charge Nurse then notified the Nursing Supervisor, and the officer finally put on a mask.

The compliance was short-lived, with officer Whitehead stating that he would take the mask off when he went into the patient room, potentially exposing the victim of assault to COVID. Despite a larger police presence, the staff noted that no other officers interceded on the behalf of the hospital, to ask Whitehead to put on a mask.

Although no hospital was identified in the investigation, Harborview has come under fire from the rank and file of Seattle Police through the group Safe Seattle. On November 21, 2020, an anonymous source complained about the “vibe,” in a Facebook post“It used to be friendly. Now it’s either like we are invisible and they can’t see us at all… or they will stare at us. We used to have conversations and joke around with HMC folks, but the vibe has changed. Jail staff have noticed it, too, when they have to do hospital watches. Sure, it’s not all the staff to be clear, but the vibe has definitely tensed up.”

In another post, anonymous Seattle police officers complained that free snacks were no longer available for them in the emergency department. After a COVID-19 outbreak in the medical center sickened 13 and killed at least one, hospital administration identified that lax mask policy in break rooms while eating food likely contributed to the infections. As a result, UWM banned all food, including single-serving packages from all areas of the hospital except the cafeteria for anyone who is not a patient.

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