Seattle Detective Shandy Cobane, who earlier this year was caught on video stomping on and shouting racial profanities at a Latino man, has been accused again of abusive misconduct.
Seattle’s KIRO reports that the Seattle police department has an open complaint against Cobane from a man who says he was nearly strangled by the officer after a bar brawl that happened a week after Cobane’s most high-profile incident of abuse. Seattle’s internal investigation unit is still looking into the incident.
David Alexander Rengo says on April 24 he was in the middle of a fight outside a bar and had been punched by someone when Cobane and other police officers jumped into the melee and started throwing punches too. But Rengo says it wasn’t until he was in police custody, handcuffed and seated in a patrol car, that Cobane turned around and started choking him.
Rengo wrote in a protection order he filed against Cobane:
“I was held down and choked. He collapsed my windpipe with his thumbs over and over again. He allowed me to breath (sic) only to prevent me from passing out. He seemed to get pleasure out of it.”
Cobane also had a prior record of abuse. In September he was cleared on possible hate crime charges for famously yelling at Martin Monetti, who was lying down on the ground, “I’m going to kick the f*cking Mexican piss out of you, homey,” before stomping on him.
The Cobane case illustrates what many criminal justice experts say: that police departments often fail to do anything to rein in their officers until, or even after, embarrassing high-profile incidents blow up in their faces.
“Police departments often already know who their problem officers are,” said Carroll Seron, a criminologist at the University of California, Irvine, told me earlier this year. “But they do not handle it as forcefully as they might.”
Many police accountability experts say that data tracking systems and other accountability measures are only as strong as the internal leadership of any police force, and that efforts to bring integrity to police departments are not helped by a culture of silence and solidarity that protects abusive cops.