Investigation Opened into Mock Tombstone of Black Man Killed by Cops, Trump Flag at Seattle Police Precinct

Seattle PD
MacDonald Hoague & Bayless

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to both Seattle PD and Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability for comment and has not heard back.

An investigation has been opened into reports that some members of Seattle Police Department kept a mock tombstone for a Black man killed by police in 2017 in a precinct break room also decorated with a Trump flag, according to reports.

Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability opened the investigation Wednesday after video surfaced of a handful of officers lounging in a small room that had a “Trump 2020” flag on the wall as well as a tombstone for 19-year-old Damarius Butts on a shelf, New York Post reported.

Butts died in 2017 following a shootout with police that injured three officers after he reportedly held up a store.

Butts’ mom, Stephanie, was filmed by KIRO 7 shaking her head at the news and through her attorney released a statement to the Seattle Times, who first broke the story on this earlier in the week.

“I can’t express how hurtful it was to learn that [the Seattle Police Department] endorsed joking about the killing of my son by displaying a fake tombstone with his name on it,” Stephanie Butts told the Seattle Times in a statement through her attorney.

“I didn’t think SPD could take more from me … I was wrong,” she added.

The room was in the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct where the flag and fake tombstone were filmed in 2021. It is reportedly in possible violation of state law and department policy regulating officers’ involvement in partisan politics while on duty, the Seattle Times reported.

The video of the room came to surface as part of a lawsuit challenging the city’s graffiti laws, according to KIRO 7.

The police department told the Seattle Times that it does “not know how that item ended up on storage shelving,” and that it has “confirmed it is no longer there.”

“We have no reason to believe it was placed as a ‘trophy’ or with any pejorative intent,” they added.

Seattle Police Lt. John O’Neil spoke to Fox 13 and said that no matter how the items got there, there is no question that they are inappropriate and “have no place in a City facility.”

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell also released a statement saying he supports the investigation and found the displays “an alarming and unfortunate setback that is simply unacceptable as we work to build and repair trust” between the police department and the communities it serves.

“It reflects poor judgment and a lack of sensitivity from the officers involved and from the officers who observed and allowed these displays to remain,” the mayor said in a statement. “We … believe it’s crucial to understand who was responsible, how long these displays remained in the break room, why police supervisors didn’t recognize the problem.”

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to both Seattle PD and Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability for comment and has not heard back.

Related Stories