King County Councilmember Joe McDermott on Friday, Mar. 26, 2021 issued the following statement, calling for the resignation of King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht in response to comments that surfaced in an internal KCSO email.
McDermott represents District 8, which includes SeaTac, Burien, North Highline, Tukwila, West Seattle, Vashon/Maury Islands, SoDo, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, and portions of the International District.
Here’s his full statement:
“Far from bringing ‘closure to this dispute,’ Sheriff Johanknecht ripped the bandage off a still fresh and painful wound in our community. Tommy Le needed help the night of June 13, 2017, should have graduated high school the next day, and today he should be helping his grandmother prepare her garden for Spring. This was a tragedy, and a tragedy that too many communities of color know too well.
“The email Sheriff Johanknecht sent regarding recent legal developments ignored this reality and was, in the most charitable light one might muster, disrespectful to the young person who was killed, to his family and to our entire community. Dismissing as ‘emotion’ the well documented disproportionate negative impacts policing and systemic racism has had on communities of color across our country, including here in King County, adds insult to injury.
“I am sorry that the Le family had to read such a message. I am sorry that our Vietnamese community had to read such a message. I am sorry families who have lost loved ones at the hands of police (KCSO or others) had to read such a message. And I am sorry that officers of KCSO were failed by their leadership with such a message.
“The ignorance, willful or not, displayed by publishing such a message is disqualifying for a leader in charge of a policing organization.
“As families of young people of color killed at the hands of police – Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, Giovonn McDade-Joseph and Leonard Thomas – so bravely pointed out to us two weeks ago today, there is a pattern here that we simply cannot ignore.
“I have no confidence the Sheriff can effectively lead KCSO through the next nine months. I believe she must step down to limit the ongoing damage her decisions have inflicted against the trust of our BIPOC neighbors and our entire community. If the public cannot trust KCSO, everyone’s safety is compromised.”