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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Former Police Officer Sentenced to Prison for Violating Civil Rights of Detained Man

Officer Kneed, Struck and Pepper-sprayed a Handcuffed Man at Harborview Medical Center

          A former Tukwila and Snoqualmie Police Officer was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to nine months in prison and one year of supervised release for Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law for an attack on a handcuffed man at a Seattle hospital, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. NICHOLAS HOGAN, 36, pleaded guilty in November 2016, and as part of that plea agreement is prohibited from seeking employment as a police officer or security guard for fifteen years. At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour called the criminal conduct “simply unacceptable . . . . The trust of the community in our law enforcement officers is very fragile and it is damaged by this conduct.”

          “This officer was a bad apple – plain and simple,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “Holding him to account and making sure he cannot return to law enforcement work protects the public and everyone’s constitutional rights. It also ensures that the overwhelming majority of officers who do their often difficult and dangerous jobs in an exemplary way get the respect that they need and deserve.”

          According to the plea agreement, on May 20, 2011, HOGAN responded to a report of a fight on Pacific Highway South in Tukwila. A man was taken into custody on a misdemeanor warrant, but because of his injuries, the King County Jail instructed HOGAN to take the man to Harborview. HOGAN admits in his plea agreement that the man was handcuffed and refusing to get out of the patrol car. HOGAN physically removed the man from the car and when the man grabbed HOGAN’s arm, HOGAN pulled away and repeatedly struck the man in the head with his knee.

          Taking the man into the Harborview emergency room, HOGAN repeatedly shoved the man until he fell and then HOGAN dropped on top of him restraining him with a knee in his back. The man was placed on the gurney in four point restraints so that he could not move his arms or legs. While the man was in a treatment area and surrounded by a curtain, HOGAN remained alone with him. HOGAN used pepper spray on the restrained man. In his plea agreement, HOGAN admits he knew that the spray was not necessary to protect himself or others at the hospital and thus not reasonable under the circumstances. As a result, HOGAN admits he violated the constitutional rights of the detainee to be free of unreasonable seizure.

          Under the terms of the plea agreement HOGAN surrenders any law enforcement commission and agrees not to seek reinstatement of any law enforcement commission, or seek a new law enforcement commission, or seek employment in any law enforcement agency or law enforcement related employment, including, but not limited to any city, county, state, or federal policing or corrections positions, or that of a private security guard, or any position that requires the carrying of a firearm, for a period of 15 years.

          The FBI investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Miyake prosecuted the case for the Western District of Washington and Trial Attorneys Rose Gibson and Jared Fishman of the Civil Rights Division for the Department of Justice.

Civil Rights
Updated March 21, 2017