BELLEVUE This city’s police chief called the idea his department waited three-plus months to complete its investigation into a two-car crash involving Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman to let Coleman and the team finish their season “absurd.”
Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said Tuesday during a press conference at City Hall here that the time since the Oct. 14 crash -- before which the Seahawk admitted to police he’d smoked synthetic marijuana - and his department recommending two felony charges against Coleman to the King County prosecutor on Monday “is not an unreasonable amount of time for these types of investigations.” Mylett said the state toxicology reports, the results that came back from a laboratory in Indianapolis, the difficulty scientists have pinpointing the synthetic cannabinoids found in Coleman’s Dodge Ram pickup and the fact the reporting officer was also investigating a fatality accident from the same day during Coleman’s investigation all contributed to the investigation lasting from mid-October to late January.
Never miss a local story.
The Bellevue police report details correspondences and questions between the reporting officer and Dr. Breanna Peterson of the state’s toxicology lab as late as Jan. 4 regarding the background into one of the synthetic cannabinoids police stated they found inside Coleman’s truck that Bellevue PD state rammed into the back of a Honda Civic and pushed it 260 feet up an embankment and onto its roof. The driver of the Honda sustained a head injury and broken clavicle, the police report said.
Bellevue police officer Ryan Parrott wrote he was corresponding with Seattle Police Department detective Ron Sanders on Jan. 14 and again on Jan. 21 regarding Parrott’s analysis of the crash data retrieval (CDR) data analysis used on Coleman’s truck. Four days after that final correspondence about the CDR data, the Bellevue Police Department recommended felony vehicular assault and hit-and-run charges against Coleman to the King County prosecuting attorney’s office.
“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 a complete investigation. That’s what we did. ... We filed just as soon as we could present a complete case to the prosecuting attorney’s office.”
Dan Donohoe, the spokesman for the prosecutor, 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.” The reporting officer consulted with her the night of the crash to determine probable cause for the vehicular assault charge.
Asked specifically about skepticism his department waited until after the Seahawks’ season ended with their playoff loss at Carolina Jan. 17 to move forward with the case, the police chief said, “That’s absurd.”
“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.”
The police chief said his confidence level in his department’s report and recommendation of the felony charges is “rock solid.”
The rest of Tuesday’s press conference, the chief’s second a little more than three months on Coleman’s case inside City Hall, featured Mylett expressing his disdain for published remarks from Coleman’s attorney, Steven Hayne. Hayne told Seattle radio station KIRO after the Bellevue Police Department released its lengthy report on Coleman’s crash Monday: "Including a 101-page kind of manifesto including all sorts of, we think, slanderous and inaccurate and irrelevant accusations against Derrick that have nothing to do with the charge that they're recommending, which was intended to make him look bad and in turn the Bellevue Police Department look good.”
Hayne pointed out to KIRO Mylett held a press conference the day the crash and accused Coleman of driving under the influence, and because the evidence indicates that was false Mylett and the Bellevue PD are attempting to "save face."
On Tuesday Mylett didn’t hide his anger toward Hayne and the lawyer’s characterization of Bellevue police.
“He crossed the line when he started to attack my employees and my police department, and our integrity,” Mylett said in a slightly-rising voice.
“Nothing could be further from the truth that we released these documents to defame Mr. Coleman. We are obligated under Washington state law to release documents that are public record when requests are made,” the police chief said, referring to widespread media interest in this case because it involves a player for the Northwest’s wildly popular NFL team.
“Once we completed our investigation, we completed our obligation under Washington state law and released the documents.”
Mylett noted Coleman’s blood draw to test for drugs and/or alcohol in his system didn’t come until about six hours after the crash, because of the need to produce warrants and get a judge to sign them before they could test Coleman’s blood. The police chief said that “could have” been enough time for any substance Coleman admitting to using about an hour and 20 minutes before the crash to leave his system.
The reporting officer listed Coleman’s impairment as “slight” in his field sobriety test. Mylett said the evidence his department had was not enough, in his and the PD’s opinions, to compel a charge of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence.
Mylett also noted the substances found in Coleman’s truck, confirmed by the Indianapolis lab as synthetic cannabinoids, are not illegal in Washington state. Mylett noted -- as did the police report -- that “spice,” the common slang name for a type of synthetic marijuana and what Coleman told police he smoked before the crash, is not illegal in Washington but is illegal federally.
The bottom line for the chief and the Bellevue police department is they believe they have the evidence to prove Coleman drove recklessly into another car -- the report says 60 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone on a city street -- injuring its driver, and then ran away from the crash site. So those, and only those, are the charges they are recommending to the prosecuting attorney.