- Associated Press - Sunday, February 1, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - A Seattle police officer recently assigned to desk duty after a controversial arrest is facing an accusation that she once used marijuana stolen from evidence.

An ex-girlfriend of Officer Cynthia Whitlatch told The Stranger newspaper the two smoked the marijuana after it was taken in 2005. The woman, Corinne Purucker, confirmed her account in an interview with the Seattle Times (https://is.gd/MMON7a ). She said it was a small amount.

Whitlatch, through a union spokesman, denied the allegation that has been referred by Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to the department’s Office of Professional Accountability.

O’Toole removed Whitlatch from street duties Thursday after revelations that Whitlatch arrested a 70-year-old black man in July for carrying a golf club and later posted racially charged comments on Facebook. The man, who has filed a $750,000 claim against the police department, said he had used the golf club as a cane for 20 years.

Beside the pot allegation, Purucker said Whitlatch, who is white, made racist comments during their relationship.

Purucker, 53, is a former Tukwila police officer who resigned in 2004 after she was indicted and convicted in a bankruptcy-fraud case in Colorado. The fraud occurred while she was a police officer in that state. According to the indictment, Purucker used her roommate to hide ownership of a Jeep Grand Cherokee from a bankruptcy court.

Purucker, who now lives in another state, said she came forward now after learning of the golf-club case and the Facebook post.

Ron Smith, president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, said the department must investigate Purucker’s allegation, but he said the criminal conviction raises doubts about her story. “I don’t how much credibility this woman is going to have,” Smith said.

The Seattle Police Department has made several changes prompted by a Justice Department investigation that found signs of biased policing, as well as evidence that officers are too quick to use force, especially in low-level situations. Amid the events of the past week, O’Toole said she has had regular discussions with the FBI, U.S. Justice Department and Office of Professional Accountability.

“We will leave no stone unturned in these reviews,” she said.


Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

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