Adrian Diaz out as Seattle police chief

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz will no longer hold his position after Wednesday.

A source told FOX 13 that Diaz cleaned out his office Tuesday night. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has reportedly reassigned him to special projects, and has appointed former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr to serve as interim police chief.

The departure comes after a growing number of legal claims against him and the department. 

Here's what we know about the claims against Diaz:

  • At least seven officers have come forward, alleging multiple cases of discrimination and retaliation against women and people of color on the force. Two of the people making the claims against Diaz are high-ranking police veterans
  • In April, four female officers filed a tort claim against the Seattle Police Department, alleging sex discrimination, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.  Officers Kame Spencer, Judinna Gulpan, Valerie Carson and Lauren Truscott filed a claim of damages against the city, asking for $5 million in recompense. The tort alleges the perpetrators of the "grooming" and harassment are Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Lt. John O'Neil and SPD's human resource manager, Rebecca McKechnie. The tort also claims that Seattle police has a history of sexual discrimination and harassment, which the department even validated with their "30x30" report in Sept. 2023.

Diaz joined the agency in 1997 and has worked in the Seattle Police Department’s patrol and investigations units. He also served as assistant chief of the collaborative policing bureau before he was promoted to deputy chief.

He had led the department since September 2020, taking over as interim chief for Carmen Best. Two years later, Mayor Bruce Harrell named Diaz as chief. 

Seattle Police Department press conference

Mayor Bruce Harrell held a press conference Wednesday making the announcement.

"We are looking at the internal culture in the department," said Harrell, "Recent allegations within the department, as you know, has forced me to implement an independent investigation. This work continues and we support it."

Harrell said the decision to move Diaz to special projects was one that was best for the "culture change" needed in the police department. He said he is intentionally looking outside the department — pointing to former police chiefs Gil Kerlikowske and Kathleen O'Toole — but says he will consider anyone he believes brings a "standard of excellence" to the head position.

On the ‘special projects’ that Diaz has been reassigned to, Harrell said the specifics of the position have not been determined yet: "We are discussing that now."

"The amount of litigation has to be somewhat distracting," Harrell said of Diaz. "He is a good human being. It can be hard."

"I've accomplished a lot, and there's more work to be done," Diaz spoke at the podium, tearing up. "I want to thank the men and women… and the community that supports us in this challenge."

Diaz said he has received calls to lead other police departments, but says he is committed to staying in Seattle, at least in the short term. "I'm taking some time for myself," said Diaz, who remarked he is also currently dealing with medical issues, which he said were exacerbated by working too hard.

Harrell says the search for the next police chief will begin next week, and expects it to take roughly four to six months.

You can watch it on TV on FOX 13, stream it on the free FOX LOCAL app for your smart TV and stream it on and in the FOX 13 Seattle mobile app.


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