Arrested in Seattle, Computer Security Expert Creates Searchable Website of Police Dashcam Video Log

  • Print

Arrested three years ago in Seattle when a police officer apparently didn’t appreciate his “brainiac” attitude after he was questioned about swatting giant sponge golfballs from bar to bar during a pub crawl, a computer security expert has fought back bigtime.

Once the obstruction case against him was dismissed, Eric Rachner pursued a public-disclosure claim against the city’s police department over its failure to provide all video camera footage of his arrest, winning a $60,000 judgment.

And today he filed suit against the department again, asserting claims in his King County Superior Court complaint (PDF) for false arrest, obstruction of justice, malicious prosecution and “spoliation of video evidence,” reports the Seattle Times.

But that’s not all. Tomorrow the 35-year-old Rachner plans to activate a website that he says will allow arrested citizens and their attorneys to see whether there is any video from the dashboard cameras that police are supposed to activate during arrests.

As part of the judgment in his favor in the disclosure suit, Rachner and his lawyer, Cleveland Stockmeyer, were given copies of the department’s log of every dashcam arrest video shot by Seattle patrol officers between July 2008 and August of this year.

By checking the log, other arrestees and their counsel “might find, as we did in Eric’s case, that the video and the police reports were so at odds that they might as well have been from different incidents,” Stockmeyer tells the Times.

Much of Rachner’s latest suit focuses on what he contends is a widespread practice of the department of failing to provide requested dashcam footage not only to arrestees who request it but even to federal investigators. The department, he alleges in the suit, “has had a policy and custom to falsely conceal video when it is requested.”

Other videos, he claims, have been lost and officers sometimes don’t activate the dashcams when they are supposed to, all of which results in a loss of evidence. A local television station filed suit against the police last month, the newspaper says, after learning Rachner had dashcam logs that had been withheld from a reporter.

A spokeswoman for the city attorney said he was out of town, but could not discuss the lawsuit until he has seen it, the newspaper reports.

A police spokesman also said he could not comment on litigation the police department hasn’t seen. However he said the department “applauds” Rachner for creating the website.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.