Instead of a Medal, He Gets The Boot

The real story came out because of the diligence of Kansas City Police Detective Max Seiffert.  It started with a road rage incident.  From the Kansas City Star :

Drug Enforcement Administration agent Timothy McCue tried to pass [Barron} Bowling on the right in a wide lane. Bowling sped up and the cars collided.

Bowling drove forward before he pulled over so he wouldn’t block traffic . . . That’s when McCue, gun out, rushed him. Bowling was beaten unconscious by McCue and then taken to jail.

Naturally, Agent McCue made sure that Bowling was arrested.

Officers at the crash scene failed to report or photograph Bowling’s injuries or report what witnesses said, the judge wrote.

Instead, Police Officer Robert Lane told Bowling he was going to jail because DEA agents “do pretty much whatever they want,” the judge wrote.

Bowling was accused of assaulting DEA agents by intentionally causing the crash, and Lane ordered a reporting officer to omit the evidence of the beating and witnesses’ statements, Robinson wrote.

All the ducks were lined up perfectly, until the case was put into the hands of Det. Seiffert.  He was told by his boss to investigate only the “assault” on Agent McCue.  Seiffert investigated everything, and told the District Attorney not to prosecute.  His superior, Deputy Chief Steven Culp, pushed for prosecution after playing golf with the DEA special agent in charge.

Bowling was prosecuted, acquitted of the felon and convicted of misdemeanors, with Det. Seiffert testifying for the defense.  The convictions were based upon S.A. McCue’s false testimony that Bowling assaulted him.  The Kansas City police went along for the ride.

Only one cop suffered for what happened here, Det. Max Seiffert.

For crossing “the thin blue line,” U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson wrote, Seifert was forced into retirement.

“Seifert was shunned, subjected to gossip and defamation by his police colleagues and treated as a pariah,” Robinson wrote. “… The way Seifert was treated was shameful.”

Seiffert was forced off the force a year shy of full vesting of his pension.  This came out not in a civil action by Seiffert, but as part of a decision in Bowling’s case for the assault, battery and excessive force.  Had Judge Robinson not mentioned it, no one would have known.

Neither the DEA nor Kansas City police are at all concerned about the treatment of Seiffert.  He was a traitor, disloyal to his own.  Covering up another cop is not merely a perk of the job, but a sacred duty.  Seiffert violated his duty.  He told the truth.

McCue’s conduct wasn’t of the typical cop sort, a drunk driving stop forgotten.  He beat the crap out of a person than had him charged criminally for the audacity of not giving a special agent his way.  Ah yes, DEA special agents are, indeed, very special.  They get to beat others for fun, with impunity, and with the knowledge that local cops, shaking in their boots lest they anger or offend the DEA,, will clean up the mess.

For whatever reason, Max Seiffert decided that he wasn’t going to play the game that day.  And he didn’t.  Lucky that he was only forced into early retirement.  Cops who don’t protect the the crimes of the brothers could just as easily find themselves with a bullet in their head when they are out on the street thinking someone has their back.  And they went off on an unannounced donut run.  What a horrible accident that would be.

We keep asking why police don’t refuse to cover-up the crimes of others, come forward to tell the truth.  This is why.  Because when one does so, this is how he ends up.  Where’s the incentive to break ranks?  It’s not enough to keep demanding that cops stand up and do the right thing.  We ask them to put their lives, their careers, on the line, for the somewhat existential goal of honor and our fine appreciation. 

What happened to Max Seiffert cannot go unnoticed if cop culture is ever going to change.  What was done by McCue and Culp cannot go unnoticed either. 

Special Agent McCue is still with the DEA.  Deputy Chief Steven Culp is executive director of the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.  And Seiffert is out on his butt.  The blue line remains undisturbed in Kansas City, and until it came out on Judge Robinson’s decision, nobody noticed.  Had Judge Robinson not included it in her decision, nobody, except Seiffert, would have ever noticed.  

H/T Radley Balko

10 thoughts on “Instead of a Medal, He Gets The Boot

  1. ExPat ExLawyer

    I’m glad you stressed Judge Robinson’s heroic role in this, Scott. I’m pretty frustrated dealing incident by incident with these cases. We just had the Denver DA bat 1000 in six years of no-filing blatantly egregious misconduct cases.

    I’ll blog about this as you and Radley have. What else can we do? Getting rid of cop unions is a necessary but not a sufficient condition.

  2. SHG

    Changing the culture has to come from inside.  We can keep writing about it, letting people know what’s happening, but until the public becomes outraged, rejects the testimony of cops because they are seen as liars, and excoriates the police for covering up their own crimes, nothing will change.

    For now, we just keep beating the drum until judges, prosecutors, politicians and the public wake up and see what their beloved cops are doing to people.

  3. Jdog

    If I’m ever lucky enough to be at the same bar as Max Seifert, I’m buying his drinks. Won’t be the first drinks I’ve bought for a genuine American hero.

  4. Peter Duveen

    Seems to me reforming the police is an executive responsibility. The mayors, governors and the president are responsible. Why blame the police when management is not doing its job. That’s where the pressure needs to be applied.

  5. Eric L. Mayer

    I am saddened to hear of this. To this point, I figured that Max retired a few years back.

    As a law student, I interned in the Kansas City, Kansas DA’s office. While there, I mainly tried preliminary hearings for lower-level felony charges. Through that experience, I became acquainted with Max on a professional level, and I was consistently impressed by his integrity. He saw his job as one where he gathered facts and evidence. He did not try to “sell” cases. Rather, if a case was a stinker, he let it go and was honest and upfront in his appraisal. His reports said everything that needed to be said about a particular case, honestly and completely.

    While my opinion is based on only limited observations, I believe it to be accurate. Despite the fact that I was a mere law student with no license, he treated me like another ADA, and that made my internship even more enjoyable and rewarding.

    Max was one of the more seasoned detectives. As such, he went through the lean years where KC, KS was barely able to provide its civil servants a living wage. Despite the low pay and lack of reasonable resources, he was loyal, diligent, and honest.

  6. Lee

    “We ask them to put their lives, their careers, on the line, for the somewhat existential goal of honor and our fine appreciation.”

    Well, yeah, we do. Many of us do the same, for less. And we don’t clamor to be called heroes (usually).

    That said, hats off to Det. Seiffert. I’m sure that one year of early retirement isn’t starving him, but he could be thirsty. So, officer, if you’re out there, let me know your drink and I’ll join Jdog and send you a bottle of your favorite because you’ve done a fine thing and, per Eric, it wasn’t an anomaly. Seriously.

    Scott has my email if you’d prefer not to comment publicly, I’d be honored to buy you a drink.

  7. Kentucky Packrat

    I am a cynic about law enforcement, because I’ve seen way too many McCues and not enough Seifferts.

    Mr. Seiffert, I hope that retirement treats you better than the crew that you left.

  8. John David Galt

    Pardon me if this is a stupid question, but why can’t Robinson order Seiffert reinstated and his opponents put on trial for corruption?

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