Internal investigative documentation from the Auburn Police Department shows Kenneth Lyman received a written reprimand for driving a SWAT vehicle into Peter Manning’s work truck and then fleeing the scene in 2020.
On May 15, 2020, Lyman used an Auburn SWAT vehicle to crash into Manning’s stopped work truck on Federal Way and then drove on, records show. Shortly thereafter, Auburn Police Department Cmdr. Steve Stocker launched an internal investigation into Lyman’s actions.
Manning filed a lawsuit for damages against the city of Auburn in January 2022. To Manning’s surprise, the police vehicle did not stop. No officials came to check on him and his nephew. The officer at the wheel just kept driving, Manning said. Manning drove down the street to see if the police might have stopped somewhere out of sight, but they were gone.
Less than a month after the crash, on June 6, 2020, an oversight committee consisting of commanders Sam Betz, Dave Colglazier and Cristian Adams reviewed Stocker’s investigation. On June 17, 2020, they sent Lyman a letter with their findings and disciplinary decision.
The panel found that Lyman was engaged in actual wrongdoing by violating a misdemeanor or felony statute, operating a vehicle unsafely and behaving in a manner improper for a police officer.
The investigation confirmed that Lyman hit Manning’s truck and that he knowingly drove away.
“The SWAT van collided with the van, damaging the rear-view mirror,” the letter said. “You later stated that you were fully aware that you were colliding with the van and damaging the mirror, but made the conscious decision to continue to the scene without stopping to speak to the van driver.”
Washington state law requires drivers who collide with other cars to stop driving and exchange their name, address, insurance number, and driver’s license number. According to state law, persons who do not stop to exchange information after an accident are guilty of a gross administrative offence.
However, if the accident results in injury and the driver does not stop, they are guilty of a Class C felony. Class C crimes carry up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine under Washington state law.
The internal letter of inquiry does not recognize that Manning was injured in the crash and required medical attention for his injuries.
The letter to Lyman ends with a rationale for discipline. The rationale states that when Lyman crashed the SWAT vehicle into Manning’s truck, he was responding to a call from a barricaded subject with no hostages and that officers were already at the scene.
“The life safety priorities would indicate that at the moment you made your decision to leave the scene of the accident, your response to the incident was not critical,” the letter reads. “The needs of the community outweighed the needs of law enforcement the moment you made your decision to leave the scene of the collision.”
The letter ends by stating that this was not a lack of education issue, but rather poor decision-making, and that Lyman’s punishment is a written reprimand.
According to police records, this isn’t the first time an internal investigation has found Lyman involved in actual wrongdoing. On March 23, 2018, a panel determined that according to police files, Lyman had indeed committed wrongdoing by violating the department’s use of force during a traffic stop on February 20, 2018.
On February 20, 2018, Lyman and other officers were investigating a possible DUI and the driver was acting suspiciously, so Lyman and the other officer called him out of the vehicle, according to police records.
As the man got out of his vehicle, raised his hands and turned around, Officer Wilkinson tried to put a chokehold on him, according to police records. Lyman didn’t think the chokehold was effective, so he punched the man in the head, according to police records.
The man then fell to the ground and Lyman said Officer Acito tried to put the man in another choke hold, according to police records. At that point, Lyman kneed the man in the face four to six times, according to police records.
The internal investigation found that Lyman’s actions were unreasonable, as police records indicated there was nothing to indicate that the driver of the vehicle would act violently against anyone. Lyman was called in to provide coaching and counseling over this misconduct.
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, alleges that Manning was injured and harmed by the Auburn SWAT team’s negligent and willful actions, for which the City of Auburn and the Auburn Police Department are liable.
On February 3, 2022, the city of Auburn offered Manning a $7,500 settlement. Manning said he is pursuing the lawsuit and expects the city to pay at least $100,000 in damages.