No preferential treatment. No purposeful investigation delay so Derrick Coleman could finish his Seahawks season.
That was the stern response Tuesday by the chief of the Bellevue Police Department to the skepticism his department waited three-plus months to complete its investigation into a two-car crash involving the Seahawks’ fullback to let Coleman and the team complete their playoff run.
“That’s absurd,” Chief Steve Mylett said at Bellevue City Hall.
Mylett said the months since the Oct. 14 crash and Monday’s recommendation of two felony charges against Coleman to the King County prosecutor “is not an unreasonable amount of time for these types of investigations.” Police say Coleman admitted smoking synthetic marijuana prior to the crash.
The police recommended charges of vehicular assault and hit and run to the King County prosecuting attorney’s office eight days after Seattle’s season ended with a playoff loss at Carolina.
Coleman played in the Seahawks’ final 11 games after recovering from a concussion he sustained in the crash. The team suspended him for five days immediately following the crash and his brief jail time, then reinstated the fullback and special-teams mainstay to the roster.
“We have no motivation to delay any investigation for any group or any individual, period. We wouldn’t do that,” said Mylett, who was chosen for his Bellevue post in March 2015. “If you walked around my police department you are going to see the number 12 banner hanging around my employees’ cubicles. There are a lot of Seahawks fans in this police department. But their responsibility in investigating crimes — no matter who the individual is and who they are affiliated with — is beyond reproach since I’ve been here.”
Mylett said several reasons contributed to the investigation lasting from mid-October until late January, including obtaining toxicology reports from a laboratory in Indianapolis, the difficulty scientists have pinpointing the composition of synthetic cannabinoids found in Coleman’s Dodge Ram pickup and that the reporting officer was investigating a fatality accident that occurred the same day as Coleman’s accident.
“This is not unusual, the length of time it took to conduct this investigation,” Mylett said. “We owe it to the public, we owe it to Mr. Coleman, we owe it to the King County prosecuting attorney’s office to do a complete investigation. That’s what we did.”
The Bellevue police report — 101 pages citing 25 witnesses — details correspondences between the reporting officer and Dr. Breanna Peterson of the state’s toxicology lab as late as Jan. 4. That was regarding the background into one of the synthetic cannabinoids police stated they found inside Coleman’s truck.
Bellevue police Officer Ryan Parrott wrote that he contacted Seattle Police Department Detective Ron Sanders on Jan. 14 and again on Jan. 21 regarding Parrott’s analysis of the crash data retrieval information on Coleman’s truck. Four days after that final correspondence about the CDR data, the Bellevue Police Department recommended the felony charges against Coleman and released its report.
“We filed just as soon as we could present a complete case to the prosecuting attorney’s office,” Mylett said.
Dan Donohoe, the prosecutor’s spokesman, told The News Tribune on Monday that his office’s review and decision on whether to charge Coleman will “probably take a few weeks.”
King County Deputy Prosecutor Amy Freedheim is listed in the police report as “the primary prosecutor for felony traffic crimes.” Parrott consulted with Freedheim the night of the crash to determine probable cause for the charge of vehicular assault.
The police chief said Monday that there was not enough evidence to show Coleman was driving impaired by the synthetic marijuana he told police he’d smoked about an hour and 20 minutes before the crash, or by anything else. But the police believe they have overwhelming evidence to prove Coleman drove recklessly into another car then ran away from the crash site near Factoria Mall.
Mylett described his confidence level in the department’s report and recommendation of the felonies as “rock solid.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle