The Stranger identified the two Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers captured on video repeatedly hitting a person suspected of arson on May 31 as Sergeant Nathan Patterson and Officer Cody Alidon. The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) opened an investigation into both officers, and SPD Interim Chief of Police Sue Rahr said her office also plans to gather information and review the arrest.

Patterson, who has a history of complaints and lawsuits against him for excessive force, can be seen in the video hitting the suspect three to five times with his baton as the man appears to resist arrest by tensing his arms. This wouldn’t be Patterson’s first time wielding his baton, either. Back in 2012, a YouTube user posted footage of him taking pride in breaking a nightstick over someone. 

In that video, a crowd confronts a group of cops outside the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) on Juneteenth 2012. Patterson tells a crowd, “I’m the one that broke the nightstick.” Then someone asks him what he broke the nightstick on, and he says, “One of you.” They ask him if he’s proud of that, and he says, “Yeah.”

The video claims the nightstick-breaking incident referred to a night in July 2011, when SPD officers broke up a party in Columbia City. Attendees of that party later filed a lawsuit against the City, claiming that SPD officers arrived at the party, charged through the gate, and began hitting guests. One of the plaintiffs in the case described a moment when Patterson and other officers had the plaintiff handcuffed and continued hitting him “with flashlights, batons, knees, or fists.” The City settled that lawsuit for $195,000. 

(The video also claims that SPD officers had beaten three people inside the event at NAAM, but an article from that time does not mention any aggressive actions by SPD, just that officers escorted two people from the event.)

In 2020, video showed Patterson repeatedly punching a protester during an arrest. An OPA investigation found he violated department policy around disproportionate use of force in that incident, saying he’d used up to eight punches two seconds after the person had swung a water bottle, whereas another arresting officer only “used two punches over two seconds immediately after he was struck with the water bottle.”

Patterson joined SPD back in 2005, before the US Department of Justice (DOJ) came to town to investigate SPD for a pattern of excessive force, especially against people of color. The DOJ actually used a Patterson arrest as an example of SPD’s disproportionate uses of force. In the example from June 2010, Patterson and three other officers arrived to investigate a possible stabbing at a party. They found a 50-year-old man, who the DOJ report described as 5’ 3” and 130 pounds, passed out on a couch. Despite the fact that the report from the party described a suspect in his 20s, the SPD officers decided the sleeping man presented a threat. The four officers beat and tased the man, according to a lawsuit. The DOJ found the use of force by four officers excessive against “one unarmed man of relatively slight stature.” The City settled the suit for about $90,000.

Patterson made about $155,000 in 2023 and the City owes him about $60,000 in back pay under the new Seattle Police Officers Guild Contract.