You can’t have a family of over a hundred without unfortunate incidents cropping up now and then. But when one member features prominently in two of those incidents, understandably more attention is warranted.
Officer Michael Wiley has been with the Lakewood Police Department since 2004 and had transferred from the Seattle Police Department after two years of service there.
His name appears in connection with the death of Leonard Thomas in 2013 and more recently, Said Joquin on May 1 of 2020. The death of Leonard Thomas ultimately cost $12.5 million, though it is crass to reduce a life to cash payouts. Insurance covered most of it, but almost $20 will still come out of the pocket of every Lakewood man, woman, and child. This doesn’t include the cost of insurance increases in the days to follow.
A request for Wiley’s record yielded an excessive amount of returns. One of the returns on a City of Lakewood public records utility of the name Wiley yielded over 20,000 possible responses. An email fulfillment included senseless duplications, enormous retractions, and in some cases completely immaterial reports, this from a sometimes cranky download server that often ground to a halt in timeouts.
Among the deluge of entries into his record consisted of items like his contributions to the force coffee fund and what seems to be every instance of him checking out a force phone charger, Ofcr Wiley’s record seems to lack commendations but does have one or two complaints which seem to be largely unfounded. There is an expansive array of certifications that one would expect officers would have to engage in.
One troubling entry is Ofcr Wiley’s purchase of “suppressors”, commonly referred to as silencers, made without the Department’s knowledge, yet made on Department letterhead. Wiley had consulted with no one else in the Department prior to the purchase. After an internal investigation, Wiley was cleared. No charges were filed against Wiley. Surplus Ammo and Arms would not comment on the purchase through them.
Numerous accounts exist of Wiley being first on the scene to use a Taser to subdue an aggressive assailant, though it doesn’t always prove successful, not uncommon with Tasers. There are also more than a couple reports and pictures of Wiley injured in duty.
The Joquin shooting occurred one year ago. Ofcr Wiley is maybe months away from being eligible for paid retirement, but neither LPD or the City of Lakewood would comment on date or eligibilty. His administrative leave has been lifted as of March 20th. He is now restored to full duty. The investigation has been turned over to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the City of Lakewood, “The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney will now review the investigation, using the facts and law to determine an appropriate charging decision.”
We don’t get reports of successfully resolved patrol incidents, but that makes the tragic resolutions all the more stark.
Over two years ago I penned an article entitled “An Open Letter To Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro” entreating his Department to make every effort to “bring ‘em back alive”. This is not always practical and I am sure that any officer that has been on the Lakewood force since 2009 is mindful of the loss of four members of that ‘thin blue line’, an incident that made worldwide news.
My apologies if I have misinterpreted any information here, and hope to tell the story as accurately as I am able.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.