Coincidence or retaliation? SPD stop men at gunpoint again

SEATTLE -- Just days after a KOMO News investigation on Seattle police featured two young African-American men, those men say SPD officers pulled them over at gunpoint.

Was it a coincidence or retaliation? That's the question the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wants answered.

Josh Lawson and Christopher Franklin said they could not believe the first time Seattle police officers pulled them over at gunpoint. But they were even more shocked when it happened to them a second time.

The pair have many questions about the incidents, but they said they can not get any answers from Seattle police.

Dash-cam video captured in November 2010 showed Seattle police arresting Lawson and Franklin for investigation of assault. Also captured are the startling words spoken by one officer after taking Franklin back to the jail: "Well, you're going to jail for robbery," the officer said. "Yeah, I'm going to make stuff up."

During our investigation Seattle police said the comment, while inappropriate, was simply "banter." Police added the alleged assault victim identified both Franklin and Lawson at the scene.

However, according to a recording of a 911 call made on the night of the incident, the victim said he did not get a good look at his alleged attackers.

"He didn't get a good look at the other guy," a witness told the 911 dispatcher.

And Lawson and Franklin's booking photos don't match the description of the two attackers, who were said to be wearing jeans at the time of the attack. Lawson and Franklin were ultimately released and never charged.

But six days after the KOMO News story aired in February, Lawson and Franklin had another run-in with police. Lawson was reportedly driving a car registered to him. Franklin and three others were riding with him when they were stopped by police at gunpoint. Both men say 10 to 12 police officers handcuffed all five.

"It was unreal. It was frightening," said Lawson.

"These young people were pulled over again, at gunpoint, car searched, harassed and humiliated," said James Bible, president of the local NAACP chapter.

After more than an hour, police released them without citing any tickets. No charges stemmed from the incident,

Lawson and Franklin say they have asked SPD for videos and reports from that night, but say they have received nothing. And after trying to get public records from SPD the first time around, they're not waiting.

"It wasn't until KOMO 4 put their weight behind us and we started interacting directly with one of the city attorneys that we were, all of a sudden, we were getting things that when I did the initial request we weren't getting," said attorney Lizanne Padula.

Seattle police declined to comment as the two men have filed a claim in connection to the first traffic stop. But late Monday, police released a street check report, which they claimed shows proper police procedure was used during the second traffic stop.

But the men and their lawyers still have questions. They say without the police records this time, they can't tell if the police were malicious or just doing their job.

"It was either a horrible coincidence or it was a horrible retaliation," said Franklin.