Sgt. Pratt-Wieburg

After Puzzling Incident, Seattle Man Says Justice Long Delayed Has Been Denied

For James Zuppe, who, like millions of Americans in his social and economic class usually trust police officers, the past five years spent seeking justice from the University of Washington, Seattle, police officials have been a frustrating lesson in futility.

Before 2012, Zuppe's contacts with police officers had mostly been on the upside.  But now, after a harrowing experience with a group of the university's security officers, Zuppe, 56, largely sees downsides and trusts very few of them.  He is a medically retired veteran with longshoreman's credentials and a former UPS driver.

Zuppe's lessons learned about life on the downside with police officers began in the evening of August 21, 2012 after a rock concert.  While walking toward his leased limousine in front of the Cult Theater, at 45th and Brookside, a university officer, Pratt-Wieburg, "ran up behind me, shouted in my right ear and pulled on my right shoulder," he told Policeabuse.com in the first of several interviews.  Never did she did identify herself as police officer, Zuppe added.

"Walk with me," Zuppe said the officer, a woman, commanded him.  Pratt Wieburg, in addition to failing to identify herself, never cited any authority to detain him.

Zuppe said her instructions were totally confusing.  "Given her uniform, I thought maybe she was a bus driver, so I said, 'no, and asked, excuse me lady, what are you doing?"'

Within seconds, Zuppe recalled, "she grabbed my right wrist with her left hand and tried to smack her face with it."   On releasing it, according to Zuppe, she informed him, "you are now under arrest for resisting."

Immediately, Zuppe said, "she started screaming, 'I'm going to get you for resisting, you could be a terrorist.'"  Zuppe said he responded, "then you should watch bus or train stations."

That remark apparently angered Pratt-Wieburg, who, he said, attacked him, which resulted in a "torn rotator cuff, injured ligaments and damage to his neck and knee."

All charges against Zuppe were eventually dropped.  The officer who reviewed "everything," according to Zuppe, "said he didn't file a report."

At the civil court trial in which Zuppe had hoped for justice, his limousine driver, who witnessed the incident, did not appear to testify on his behalf, although promised to do so.

More damaging for Zuppe's attempts to receive justice were the testimonies of six officers, all of whom claimed that the woman officer had followed proper procedures.

According to the Expert Witness Report filed on Zuppe's behalf by Don Jackson, founder/director of Policeabuse.com, the nationally recognized investigative vehicle for victims of officers' violence, "Zuppe contends that the officers' testimonies under oath were not entirely truthful."

A longtime observer of policing and practices in the greater Seattle area, who was contacted for comment for this article declined to be identified, but said, "I do not doubt that the officers gave false testimonies, as this what so many of them do."

Efforts to obtain comments from university officials for this article were unsuccessful.

In his analysis of the "use of force against Zuppe," Jackson said he "identified several key findings based on police reports, trial testimony, policies of the University of Washington Police Department and the applicable laws Officers Pratt-Wieburg (and Davis) intended to (allegedly) enforce."

"There is clear and convincing evidence that the officers did not testify consistently with what they wrote in their reports," moreover he stressed, "the departures were not minor but rather significant."

In Officer Pratt-Wieburg's version of the incident, she allegedly "witnessed" Zuppe "urinating on university property, "approached him and ordered him to sit down."  Zuppe's companions, however, according to the police report, had told him "she is not a real police officer."

The officer's report does not dispute Pratt-Wieburg's failure and or refusal to identify herself as an officer.  Unfortunately for Zuppe, a complete video of the encounter is no longer available because "university officials" claim "it was destroyed," according to Jackson's Expert Witness findings.

Now, as nearly six years of frustration approaches, Zuppe is left, not with justice, but $220,000 in lost wages, $70,00 in medical bills and another $25,000 pursuing it.

 

Jim Zuppe Excessive Force Investigation

Jim Zuppe is a longshoreman who was assaulted and seriously injured in an encounter with a University of Washington police officer.

Evidence

Key Findings

False Statements by Officers

False Testimony by Officers

Excessive Force

Policy Violations: use of force, report writing, testimony

Expert Report