A controversial traffic stop by an armed plainclothed detective has garnered a federal lawsuit filed by the motorist who says he was victimized by a poorly trained lawman with little oversight.
The stop, recorded by Washington motorcyclist Alex Randall on his GoPro, went viral last August after it showed King County Sheriff’s detective Richard Rowe’s encounter with the man. In the video, released by Randall on social media, Rowe is shown pointing an unholstered Glock at the man, saying “I’m going to knock you off this bike,” as a result of what the detective contended was a display of reckless high-speed driving. The video has been viewed over 500,000 times in the past year.
While Rowe’s actions were investigated by King County Sheriff John Urquhart’s office, the civil lawsuit filed last week by Randall against both Rowe and the county argue the department failed to provide adequate supervision or training to the officer who did not properly identify himself as law enforcement, made an illegal search and used excessive force. The filing says there was no legal justification for Rowe to draw his firearm or brandish it during the stop.
According to local media, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, who replaced Urquhart in 2018 following an election victory, suspended Rowe for five days over the incident, which was half of the amount recommended after an internal review. No charges were filed against the detective by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Arguing that Randall has suffered and continues to suffer psychological harm over the interaction, the lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages as well as an injunction against the department to correct their practices.