Woman Sues Seattle Police after Video Shows they Fabricated Case Against Her

In yet another typical display of police aggression and fabrication that came to light through video, a Seattle cop grabbed a woman out of a crowd of protesters and pulled her to the ground where several other officers pounced on her.

The cop, Sonya Fry, claimed in her report that she grabbed Maria Morales because Morales had cursed at her and punched her in the chest – not that she would even have grounds to do that if Morales had cursed at her.

Morales was charged with assault.

Then her lawyer came across the video on Youtube, which showed Morales neither cursed nor punched Fry, prompting prosecutors to drop the charge.

Now Morales is suing the Seattle Police Department.

According to Seattle’s Fox affiliate:

“I have somebody’s knee right on my neck, I can’t breathe. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what I did wrong, I don’t know what I’m being arrested for,” Morales, 30, said in an interview Friday, recalling that incident May 1 in downtown Seattle when police took her down, cuffed her and took her off to jail. She was later charged with assault.

Morales’ lawyer, Darryl Parker, said Morales likely would have been convicted of the assault charge. “If it’s your testimony against the testimony of a police officer, you’re going to lose every time,” he said.

Unless one has video proof. And Parker said they found some proof, from a cell phone video posted on YouTube.

The video shows Fry grabbing Morales and throwing her to the ground, where Morales is swarmed by other officers.

“Maria’s just lucky that that video’s out there,” Parker said. “That changes the whole case.”

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

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  • Anonymous

    Fuck the pigs!

  • KingCaster
  • LastManOutTheDoor

    Once again I cannot link to your article because of your use of the word “typical”. I don’t wish to use you as a source for my facebook posts, but then be unable to link to your site. The word “typical” paints all officers and dilutes your sites credibility with no advantage.

    • KingCaster

      I try to avoid saying that as well, I know too many good LE. The thin blue line is still still in place though you can believe that :(

    • defjeff

      Actually, you are mistaken. The word ‘typical’ only paints the ‘typical’ officer. Your own bias assumes that a ‘typical’ officer respects and obeys the law… I am certain that if Carlos wanted to paint ‘all officers’, he would have used the phrase ‘all officers’…

    • Carlos_Miller


      Do what you need to do. My site is a mix of opinion and news. I’ve written about too many of these incidents to call them atypical.

      • LastManOutTheDoor

        OK, but I have no argument about if they are atypical. Just wish someone would do a solid study so we knew what % cross the line. But that data is unlikely to available, thin blue line and all…

        • Phred

          Without video evidence, a “solid study” is impossible. But we know for certain, via these videos, that police lie and fabricate things to suit their own purposes and to feed their self-important, power-hungry egos. I think it can be safely assumed that these videos are just the tip of the iceberg and that incidents such as the one here happen more often than not.

        • Art clark

          Just my point, John. With the police leadership, police unions, local governments, and court benches at their back, obtaining any kind of meaningful empirical data about their street abuse is nigh impossible. Thus, we are relegated to the anecdotal.

      • nordpedant

        Your site would have a much greater impact if you approached each story with less opinionated language. I’m writing this as a journalist who agrees with you.

        You don’t need to editorialize every aspect of a story. You’re able to convince the reader with just telling the facts, once you editorialize the facts, they immediately become less trustworthy.

        Just my .2

      • scruffylookingnerfherder

        Carlos, you’ve had dealings with probably hundreds of cops in your lifetime. To fit the word “typical”, that would mean something like a simple majority. Are you really willing to say that the majority of cops beat innocent people on some sort of frequent basis? Really?

        My bookmark still has photographyisnotacrime.org, long before pixiq, maybe a year after you started blogging. Your coverage has changed significantly. You’ve become a jaded, angry, biased reporter and it comes through in your writing. You built your readership based on covering abuse of laws regarding photography, and I really think you’ve made a difference. Over the years, I’ve linked to you repeatedly. But lately, it’s become “officers caught on camera breaking the law”. You barely had a snippet of the HUGE issue about the ACLU injunction against enforcing the Illinois wiretapping law, and presented it comparatively dryly. If anything should’ve had some emotion, that was the article. It was a gigantic win for journalistic freedom in the last holdout of the 50 states abusing the law at a coordinated state level, not just some rogue ignorant cop. In it were two biased comments: “merely recording police” and “stubborn state attorney”. Compare that to the emotionally loaded “another typical display of police aggression and fabrication” and the rest of that article.

        I completely agree with simonaldra’s first comment. You’re sabotaging your own credibility as a news reporter when you come across as ranting. If all you want to do is blog your feelings, that is indeed what you’ve created, and I’ll continue reading it like I have for the past few years.

        If, however, you want to establish better credibility in the eyes of those OTHER than just your readers in a format that other sites will be delighted to link (especially with touchy subjects like exposing cops breaking the law), you might consider getting an editor or at least toning down the anti-(establishment/cop/authority/laws/policies) rhetoric, and simply present the facts. To drive your point home, instead of ranting your opinions, you could present it with sane legal precedents and SCOTUS commentary that shows the extent of the abuse. (e.g. “Despite Abusivecop’s claim, In 1972 Justice so-and-so addressed and completely dismissed Abusivecop’s defense, noting it was completely unacceptable for a uniformed officer to blahblahblah”)

    • JdL

      Once again I cannot link to your article because of your use of the word “typical”. I don’t wish to use you as a source for my facebook posts, but then be unable to link to your site. The word “typical” paints all officers and dilutes your sites credibility with no advantage.

      I’m sure Carlos is going to lose endless nights of sleep agonizing over your reluctance to use him as a source for your facebook posts. Why don’t you get off your high horse and accept the obvious fact that descriptions of cops on this site are if anything more restrained than would be justified by the facts? They are lying, marauding criminal thugs, and if you can’t see that, you have your head in the sand.

      • scruffylookingnerfherder

        I’m fascinated by what you say and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    • steveo

      yeah, typical cop troll.

  • NorthoftheBorder Gold

    Bad Cop!! No Donut!!

  • NorthoftheBorder Gold

    Question: Does anything ever happen to these cops that fabricate stories such as this??

    • Guest

      Paid vacation while case is investigated. Then full reinstatement. What else do you expect when you complain to the mugger’s friends about the mugging?

      • KingCaster

        Typically so. Same deal in New Hampshire big time, I’ve done a ton of research there. And they wonder why people have distrust for police.

    • LastManOutTheDoor

      Generally no, however sometimes…

    • Bob

      It seems they are often reprimanded later by having to carry the ‘Officer of the Year’ plaque.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like she bumped the cop’s bike; look carefully, and you see the handlebars move. This is no way justifies the assault on her, and I’m always glad to hear about this sort of thing.

  • Ron

    Swarm is right!

    What is up with that?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a real shame that the assault charge was dropped. The legal system could have had fun with that. You’ve got to think that at a big police presence like that there were also police cameras, and getting that LEO to lie on the witness stand would have ended her career and sent a nice message.

    • LastManOutTheDoor

      I noticed some of the bike officers had helmet cams, hopefully that can be obtained in discovery.

      • KingCaster

        Also look closely there is another cop on a bike right behind her, apparently whatever it was she was doing was not offensive to him in the least. It appears to me that Officer Fry clearly dragged this woman into something, the body language immediately before that shows Ms. Morales leaning away. It looks like Fry is gesturing in her personal space to move back even though no one is moving toward her. I went through this the first day of Occupy in NYC and they backed away.

        At 4:08 I chill with a really cool cop then at 6:52 those cops could have really given me a hard way to go after he tells me to get off the sidewalk and I flat refuse to do so. It’s scary out here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0CRQ07AciQ

    • Art clark

      Her career should end anyway, by her own department. The abusers among our police must be purged.

  • sickntired

    all cops believe they can do what ever they want and be protected by the Bluelaw… I say sued the hell out of them..

  • Menards Viper Rko

    stupid pigs they all need kicked in the mouth

  • Joseph Von Zipper

    Yea I am from Seattle and was told once from a man I did not know who came up to me and told me certain officers have a “Bullet for my back”so dont drink on the side streets or the alleys.Shortly there after I stopped drinking but wont ever forget it.It was about 6months after my old girlfriend was shot in the back by UC Berkeley police officers…

  • nordpedant

    Mr. Miller has an agenda, which he is attempting to pass on to his readership. Which is perfectly acceptable. But it is best achieved by not being overtly partisan.

    Being overtly partisan is nice enough, but it doesn’t work. What you get in nods by your faithful followers (the choir to which you are preaching) is overruled by the lack of faith it instills by the not yet convinced reader, the independant, you might say. These are the people who don’t have any beliefs either way, but would probably agree assaulting a woman for bumping into a bike is a little rich.

    This reader will almost certainly not need convincing by the application of rethorical and editorializing terms such as “typical”. If anything, it will make the independant reader less likely to trust any line of text written on this blog.

    I suggest he just writes the facts. They don’t need editorializing. There is an old saying among revolutionaries that facts tend to be revolutionary, and they are, most of the time. For campaigning journalism, appearing to be campaigning is the kiss of death.

    As for Bierce, he acted in a time when written word had great authority, and in the infancy of real journalism. What made the Victorian readers of the Pall Mall Gazette shocked and forced to take to action in the good cause wasn’t the blistering pen of William Thomas Stead; it was the shocking reality of child prostitution. Walter Cronkite had an opinion on the Vietnam war, and he eventually said what he believed. But it was the facts and videos being broadcast from Vietnam that shocked parts of the American viewership.

    Neutral language isn’t good just because it’s better journalism, it’s good because is far more trustworthy.

    • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

      I don’t see Carlos as being overly partisan. As he says, there are too many examples of police misconduct, especially regarding photography, for him to describe it as atypical. He is also clear throughout the blog on what his purpose is, and his editorializing is not overly (even if overt) partisan.

      By the same token, it is clear that major media is overly accepting of the police side of incidents, and without video evidence, do not spend the time to look into these incidents.

      In this case, based on the video evidence, it is appears that the officer falsified a police report. I’m not familiar enough with Washington law, but most states have an offense for falsifying a police report.

      • nordpedant

        He is by no means the worst example of partisan writing. But he is partisan, and overtly so.

        My point is not that Carlos should describe such actions as “atypical”, I’d rather see him not describe their frequency at all, especially not on an anectodal basis, but even so, it’s just bad language and bad journalism. It sounds wrong, it appears too personal to be regarded as reporting which could be used as a record of anything.

        The great thing about journalism written the way it should be is that it becomes a matter of record. Present the facts, get opinions from both sides and let the reader come to his own conclusions.

        I recall reading some of the reporting done by lefty magazines relating to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians back in the 70s. It was really convincing, because they had a few very good reporters who just reported facts; selective facts for sure, but facts. A few years later, the professional journalists were fired, professionalism being bourgeois in its very concept; the result was laughable. The same facts presented with enough editorialized fluff to completely discredit the reporting.

        Editorializing is great if you’re an editioral board at the New York Times and you’re writing an editorial. Because there’s a whole paper of news that are not opinion pieces.

        If Carlos just wants to have a blog, then that’s fine. If he wants to be a real source of reporting on a matter I for one finds very important, and if he wants to be taken seriously, it’s a different matter.

        The original poster of this thread is the case in point. He’d like to share this story, he believes it to be important, he wishes to share the story with his social circle, but he feels he is not able to because the story is to editorialized.

        Do you honestly believe Carlos’ reporting would be weaker if he didn’t editorialize? Really? If not, doing it probably lost him the middle ground. Someone else will sweep in and take it.

        It’s a matter of journalistic principle.

        • Art clark

          I appreciate some of your points, but no one is going to “sweep in and take” these stories. No one is reporting on them. They are as unreported as the perpetrators are unpunished.

          • nordpedant

            No one is going to pounce on the stories themselves. They’ll be quite content with just taking all the readers.

      • steveo

        I don’t know about that, falsifing police reports where I live gets you a promotion. I asked a public defender once about 15 years ago why leos don’t just record everything they do because it would save the system a hell of a lot of time and money, he looked at me perplexed and said, “Why would they do that, then they couldn’t lie about it later.” In alot of these cases, that are on this blog, they still lie about it even with video and audio evidence.

        • http://excoplawstudent.wordpress.com/ ExCop-Lawyer

          Bobby Correa, Javier Varela, and Israel Delgado were all Socorro officers who were arrested by Texas Rangers for falsifying reports in 2012. Brownfield officer
          Ashley E. Ramirez was indicted in 2003. Former Bertram police chief David Lee Caudle was indicted in 2011. I could go on.

          All it takes is integrity.

      • scruffylookingnerfherder

        How does “police misconduct, especially regarding photography” relate to “police misconduct caught on tape”?

        While they sound similar, they are worlds different. One is aimed squarely at the photography and journalism crowd in a hope to promote sane laws and educated enforcement, while the latter is aimed squarely at the I-Hate-Cops crowd with only a tertiary nod to the journalist shooting it.

    • steveo

      geez, how many cop trolls have we had in the last 5 years about a zillion.

  • Chris Young

    The video does not prove or disprove that she punched the officer. The officer said the woman punched her in the chest. The camera is aimed above the officer’s chest.

    • Rob

      It was enough evidence for prosecutors, however. Nice try Sonya.

    • KingCaster

      Oh, shut up. You can clearly see the officer had to reach out to grab her and pull her into the fray that she created. I love a good cop and I respect the badge but not when that badge is tainted.