A man that was arrested in Seattle last summer for carrying a golf club as a cane has decided to sue the city and Seattle police officer, Cynthia Whitlatch. The African American 70 year old man, William Wingate, was arrested in July 2014. He was accused of using the golf club as a weapon. Wingate claimed that he was using the golf club as a cane.
Wingate, who had never been arrested before, spent 24 hours in the King County Jail. All of the charges were eventually dropped. His golf club was returned to him in January by the Seattle Police Department along with an apology.
Wingate decided to file a lawsuit just last week regarding the incident. He is seeking $750,000 in damages. The suit was filed in King County Superior Court after the city of Seattle failed to answer the the claim for damages for more than 60 days after it was filed. A claim for damages is required before a lawsuit can be filed against a governmental entity, such as a police department. Wingate filed the lawsuit against the police department and Cynthia Whitlatch.
In the discrimination lawsuit, Wingate claimed he was targeted because of his race. He noted that the arresting officer, Whitlatch made racially derogatory comments about his race and men around the time of his arrest on her personal Facebook page.
Wingate has gotten treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress since the arrest. He is now fearful of police officers he does not know, according to the lawsuit.In the lawsuit, he claims he was arrested while running an errand to pick up copies of The Facts Newspaper for his fellow church members and friends who live in an assisted-living home.
Included in the claim, is that Whitlatch pushed for Wingate to be charged with obstructing a police officer. She claimed that he was “one of the most obstinate, uncooperative and obstructive suspects” she had seen in her 17 year long career as a police officer. Ultimately, he was not charged with the obstruction claim.
After questions arose following his arrest, the Seattle Police Department apologized to Wingate about the incident and arrest. This lead to an open investigation about the arrest and Whitlatch’s discriminatory comments made on her Facebook page, a public forum.
According to Pierce Murphy, (the civilian head of the department’s Office of Professional Accountability -OPA), the Seattle Police Department still has 180 days to internally investigate the incident before responding to the lawsuit.