The Right to Face Your Accuser, All of Them

In 2008, Eric Rachner was arrested for obstruction of justice by the Seattle Police Department (SPD). Rachner and a group of his colleagues were involved in a pub crawl while playing “urban golf,” a drinking game that involves swatting giant sponge golf balls from one bar to the next. Rachner and his group were stopped by the SPD because the SPD was investigating a report that the group had hit a passerby in the face with a sponge golf ball.

Rachner, clearly not matching the description of the man who hit the sponge golf ball, was asked for his identification by an SPD officer. Rachner refused to remove his ID from his wallet stating that he had done nothing wrong and the police officer did not have the right to demand his ID. The SPD officer insisted that he had the legal authority to demand the ID and when he did not get it, he arrested Rachner for obstruction of justice. Under Washington State law, a police officer can detain an individual to determine their identification and whether or not it fits the description of someone they are looking for. However, under Washington State law, a refusal to produce identification is not grounds itself for arrest.

Out of this incident Rachner was charged with obstruction of justice, a charge which he chose to fight. Rachner and his lawyer received the police officers dash camera video of the incident, but Rachner recalled more vehicles on the scene and requested their videos as well. According to the SPD, those videos had been destroyed. But Rachner, being a computer security expert in his day job, did some research and discovered that in all likelihood, the extra videos still existed. After a public records request, and some additional litigation, Rachner discovered a total of 6 videos of the incident, and only one was originally turned over. Through Rachner’s litigation and investigation, he has discovered what he alleges is evidence that the SPD has in many cases not been turning over all the videos involved in various arrests. This includes not turning over some videos to the Feds when they are investigating various actions of alleged excessive use of force.

Here are the 2 police arresting video cams:

Information is power, and to mount the most effective defense to an allegation of drunk driving in Snohomish County WA you need all the information available.

I have posted a few blogs about the potential of officers wearing body cams to record their interactions with civilians; this would mean that there should be a video for every officer, for every encounter. Rachner’s experience has shown us that we cannot always take things at face value, but must also rely on our own memory of the incident. Was there another witness that was not recorded? Were there other police cars with dash cameras? Pleading guilty to a DUI in Washington state is a big decision, one that should not be made without having all of the information and all your options available to you.

If you have been accused of a Seattle WA DUI, then you need a Seattle DUI lawyer or you want to discuss the WA State DUI process. If you or a loved one have been accused of a DUI and are not represented by counsel, please don’t hesitate to call my office at (888) 252-1961​.

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