Former Seattle police chief denies allegations made by 4 female officers

Updated
Elaine Thompson

Former Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, who was accused by four female officers in the department of discrimination, harassment and maintaining a hostile work environment, said the allegations against him are false.

He also said publicly for the first time that he is gay.

Diaz, who was removed from his post last month and reassigned, denied the allegations and came out in a wide-ranging interview this week with radio talk show host Jason Rantz.

“Just because you’re a gay man doesn’t mean you can’t be a misogynist, but I know who I am, and I know what I’ve done, and I know that I’ve always been true to myself and I’ve always treated people well and respectfully,” he said.

Diaz said the allegations in the claim for damages filed by the women in April were false and in some cases fabricated.

“I think people want their own opportunities, and I was given the opportunity to serve as the chief,” he said in the interview. “I think there’s a lot of scrutiny and heartache. I think sometimes people feel like they deserve that opportunity.”

Diaz was named interim chief in 2020 after the previous chief, Carmen Best, resigned.

Diaz pointed out that he helped navigate the department through the final stages of federal oversight ordered by the court in 2012 after police shot and killed John Williams in 2010. Most of the consent decree provisions ended last year.

But his time at the helm was also marred by lawsuits and other allegations.

The four female officers — Lauren Truscott, Kame Spencer, Judinna Gulpan and Valerie Carson — filed the claim against Diaz, Lt. John O’Neil and human resources manager Rebecca McKechnie.

They said in the claim that O’Neil would make physical advances toward Spencer by throwing his arms around her and touching her in a way that made her uncomfortable.

They also alleged that Diaz would call Carson out by name and cause her to stay after at work, on one occasion for about 30 minutes, while talking to her and bragging about himself.

Carson said in the claim that she felt she could never turn down Diaz’s requests to talk because he was the chief.

“Simply stated, chief Diaz seemingly engaged in predatory and discriminatory behavior,’ the claim said. “It is apparent that he does not reprimand others, such Sgt. O’Neil, because he sees nothing wrong with it.”

The attorney for the four women, Sumeer Singla, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In May, Eric Greening, a 30-year veteran of the department, sued Diaz, alleging that the former chief retaliated against him after he reported discriminatory practices within the department.

Greening also alleges in the lawsuit that Diaz rejected his application to be deputy chief and his bid to reapply to be an assistant chief, demoted him to the rank of captain and abolished the Collaborative Policing Bureau, which he led.

Deanna Nollette, a 27-year veteran who rose to the rank of assistant chief in 2018, sued Diaz and the police department in January, alleging wage, gender and job discrimination. She said in the lawsuit that Diaz “is demeaning to women in the police force” and “has a history of misogyny.”

She said in the lawsuit that she had applied for the chief’s job when Diaz was interim chief, and when he got the job permanently, he demoted her to captain.

Neither Diaz nor his attorney Ted Buck responded to phone calls seeking comment Tuesday. Diaz said in the radio interview that he couldn’t comment on the pending litigation.

He also said he has struggled with his reputation being compromised.

“You’ve done a whole host of work, and people start to lose sight of that work when people are making accusations,” he said in the radio interview. “Leadership brings scrutiny and I’m alright with that.”

Diaz, who is married to a woman, said he contemplated coming out at some point but faced resistance from some quarters to do so while he was police chief. He declined to give specifics.

He told the radio host that he had an initial interview with the Austin Police Department to become its chief. City officials said interviews for the job won’t begin until next month but a search firm had reached out to top candidates. It wasn’t immediately clear if Diaz had been contacted.

“I hope people will see who I am and what I bring to the table, and I’m hoping for that opportunity and if not, I’ll go back to the drawing board,” he said.

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