- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - A Washington state police officer who has repeatedly been accused of using excessive force has now been indicted on a federal criminal charge that he pepper-sprayed a person who was under arrest and restrained in a hospital gurney.

The indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Thursday charges Officer Nicholas Hogan, a former Tukwila officer who is now on the force in Snoqualmie, with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, stemming from an incident at the Harborview Medical Center’s emergency room on May 20, 2011. The indictment did not further detail the incident.

Hogan’s attorney, Wayne Fricke, did not immediately return an email seeking comment, and an email to Snoqualmie’s police chief seeking comment from Hogan was not immediately returned.

The Tukwila Police Department fired Hogan in 2013 after the city settled two lawsuits accusing him of excessive force - neither of which was the case in which Hogan has been indicted.

In one of those cases, in April 2011, Hogan was accused of stomping on and breaking the ankle of a man he was arresting, saying “this one will never play basketball again” - actions the officer denied. In the other case, less than two months later, Hogan was accused of breaking the elbow of a man he was arresting using a “bent-arm takedown,” then pepper-spraying the handcuffed man as he was putting him in a patrol car.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in those cases said they found a number of questionable actions by Hogan, who is white, and a police practices expert opined that the Tukwila department should never have hired him. He had been rejected by four other departments, which were concerned about his association with the “Straight Edge” anti-drug and -alcohol movement, and he had recently brandished a gun in confronting a neighbor over a trash-dumping dispute, the expert wrote.

“When we looked at it, something like 19 of 20 of his uses of force were against people of color,” said Seattle attorney Joseph Shaeffer, who represented the man whose elbow was broken. “It’s important to hold officers like Hogan responsible. I think it will send a message.”

After being fired by Tukwila, he was hired in Snoqualmie, where he was suspended for 20 days early this year for having an affair with another officer’s wife, authorities said.

Snoqualmie Mayor Matthew Larson said Hogan remains an officer “in good standing” and that he remains innocent until proven guilty.

“The guys in our department take a great deal of pride in the service they provide to the community, and anything that reflects poorly on the department is disappointing,” Larson said. “I just feel for the guys in our department, that it’s more negative attention.”

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