A Seattle police officer was put on paid administrative leave after an audio recording allegedly revealed his use of racist and sexist language against a Chinese American neighbor.
Background: Officer Burton Hill and his wife, Agnes Miggins, are accused of trying to drive their neighbor, Zhen Jin, out of their Kenmore condominium complex. In August 2022, an argument broke out after the couple accused Jin of trying to kill their dog by leaving chicken bones in the condo’s courtyard.
Jin recorded the confrontation. In the audio published by The Stranger on Friday, Burton was allegedly heard calling Jin a “dumb f*cking ch*nk” and a “stupid f*cking c*nt,” as well as threatening to put her in jail.
The longstanding dispute has resulted in the court granting the parties reciprocal protection orders. Recently, a Chinese social services organization filed a complaint against Hill with the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), a Seattle police oversight agency.
Leave enforced: Shortly after the audio was published, Police Chief Adrian Diaz placed Hill on paid administrative leave. He also ordered staff to review Hill’s arrest and investigation history.
“Although I will ultimately defer, as I am required, to the outcome of OPA’s investigation, racist language is completely unacceptable and is inconsistent with the high standards the department sets for its employees,” Diaz wrote in a statement. “While I’m grateful the complaint was filed with OPA, not knowing about this for one year causes me concern.”
The big picture: This is the second time this month that Seattle police came under fire over controversial remarks caught on audio.
Officer Daniel Auderer, who serves as vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), is also under investigation by the OPA after laughing and making insensitive comments about the death of an Indian graduate student.