Seattle to pay $2.3M to whistleblowers who helped reveal that then-Mayor Durkan’s texts have been deleted in 2020

  • Whistleblower complaints revealed that 1000’s of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s textual content messages have been deleted in 2020 as crowds protested over George Floyd’s demise.
  • Additional scrutiny revealed that different prime officers’ textual content messages went lacking throughout a interval when police used tear fuel in opposition to Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
  • Seattle, Washington, has agreed to settle the lawsuit with $2.4 million.

Town of Seattle can pay $2.3 million to settle a lawsuit introduced by workers who helped reveal that 1000’s of then-Mayor Jenny Durkan’s textual content messages had been deleted in 2020 amid protests over George Floyd’s demise by the hands of Minneapolis police.

The phrases of town’s settlement with Stacy Irwin and Kimberly Ferreiro have been finalized this week and launched to The Seattle Occasions by way of a public disclosure request Friday, the newspaper reported.

After their whistleblower grievance in 2021, additional scrutiny confirmed that texts of different prime officers additionally weren’t retained from that interval in 2020 when police used tear fuel in opposition to Black Lives Matter protest crowds and quickly vacated a police precinct throughout weeks of demonstrations. Protesters additionally quickly occupied a small space of town generally known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone.


The $2.3 million payout is along with practically $800,000 spent by town to defend the case.

Irwin and Ferreiro mentioned they have been mistreated as public-records officers in Durkan’s workplace for objecting to how the workplace was dealing with requests by reporters and others for data, together with Durkan’s texts, in line with their lawsuit. They mentioned they have been “subjected to scorn, ridicule, abuse and hostility … and the demand to carry out unlawful acts.”

They have been compelled to resign reasonably than proceed to endure the hostile work surroundings, in line with their lawsuit.

The settlement says the settlement isn’t an admission of wrongdoing and prohibits the events from speaking publicly concerning the settlement quantity.

Irwin mentioned she is relieved to finish “a darkish chapter” in her life, however stays upset about having to rebuild her profession and disturbed by what occurred.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, proper, speaks at a press convention whereas Seattle Police Chief Carmen Greatest stands close by on Aug. 11, 2020, in Washington. Seattle plans to settle a lawsuit with $2.3 million after whistleblowers helped reveal that 1000’s of Durken’s textual content messages have been deleted in 2020 as protests intensified over George Floyd’s demise. (Karen Ducey/Getty Photographs)

“There’s been no accountability,” she mentioned. “These officers mainly acquired away with it and the taxpayers are paying.”

Ferreiro described the mayor’s workplace as a “stress cooker” and mentioned the expertise drove her to maneuver out of Washington. She views the settlement as a win for whistleblowers, however stays a loss for Seattle residents as a result of some questions concerning the metropolis officers’ actions “won’t ever be answered.”

Deputy Metropolis Lawyer Scott Lindsay mentioned in an e mail that town legal professional’s workplace is “happy we have been in a position to resolve this matter.”

Durkan didn’t return a request for remark from the newspaper.


Irwin and Ferreiro turned whistleblowers after they instructed the Seattle Ethics and Elections Fee concerning the mayor’s workplace mishandling public data requests. An investigation by the ethics fee decided that the mayor’s authorized counsel, Michelle Chen, had violated the state Public Information Act through the use of slender interpretations of sure requests to exclude Durkan’s lacking texts.

An legal professional for Chen referred to as the investigation unfair, amongst different issues arguing it did not account for the involvement of others.

Texts and different communications about public enterprise by native elected officers have to be stored for no less than two years, below state legislation. Anybody who willfully destroys a public report that’s imagined to be stored is responsible of a felony, punishable by as much as 5 years in jail.

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Durkan’s workplace initially cited an “unknown expertise concern” behind the lacking messages. A city-commissioned forensic report later discovered that Durkan’s telephone was possible modified in July 2020 to delete texts robotically after 30 days and was additionally set to delete texts saved within the cloud.

Different officers with lacking 2020 texts included then-police Chief Carmen Greatest and fireplace Chief Harold Scoggins, amongst others. Over 27,000 texts have been deleted from Greatest’s telephone, whereas telephones utilized by Scoggins and others have been reset in October 2020, a forensic report discovered.

Final summer season, then-King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg requested Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall to analyze the deletion of Durkan’s texts and people of different metropolis leaders. Cole-Tindall’s workplace has but to announce any outcomes.

Peter Johnson