Today’s education system: Seattle principal’s refusal to cooperate with police led to man assaulting two victims
SEATTLE, WA- A Seattle school principal is under fire after he interfered with a police investigation which led to a suspect escaping, who then allegedly committed two assaults,
Jason Rantz of KTTH-770 in Seattle reports. The June incident came as police officers in the city claim they are dealing with increasingly hostile attitudes from teachers and staff of the Seattle Public Schools when responding to on-campus incidents.
According to court documents, a man named Liban Harasam is alleged to assault a young girl and then stealing her backpack at Sand Point Elementary School in Seattle.
The documents showed that Harasam admitted to being a drug user (meth, fentanyl, and marijuana) and also suffers from mental illness. Prior to the most recent incident, he was arrested nine times in the past year.
At the time of the incident, police were unable to detain Harasam because then-principal Ric Baileykaze was uncooperative with responding officers, which prevented them from establishing probable cause in order to arrest Harasam.
After being released, Harasam went on to assault a DHL driver, and then injured a police officer while resisting arrest. Had Baileykaze cooperated with police at least one of these two assaults may have been prevented.
Rantz was able to obtain bodycam footage of Baileykaze’s refusal to cooperate with Seattle police officers. Baileykaze is no longer employed by the Seattle school system, however it is unknown what happened.
The Seattle Public Schools refused to say why this was the case, however an anonymous school staff member said he took a job out of the country. Rantz said KTTH has attempted to reach him via phone or social media, but has been unable to make contact.
The details of the encounter are as follows. Police responded to Sand Point and Baileykaze and his staff watched Harasam walk around the campus and dump items out of a backpack he was carrying, as confirmed by body camera footage. Baileykaze was vague in describing details as to what had taken place at the school.
Further, the school was actually under lockdown at the time, a detail which the principal never shared with responding officers. Police said that a teacher had to yell at her students to flee the area when Harasam scaled a fence to get on campus.
When officers spoke to Harasam, he told them someone was “doing a hostage situation” and “kidnapping kids over here.” That led the officer to radio dispatch and advise them officers were dealing with a mental health issue.
As officers spoke to Baileykaze in an attempt to establish probable cause to arrest the suspect, he was allowed to walk away.
“He entered a classroom, said he wanted to talk to a student, and he said he wanted to take a student. Again, I don’t think he was in the right mindset. And he grabbed a student’s backpack,” Baileykaze told officers, according to bodycam footage.
The principal then told officers he didn’t know where the student was, and that he believed Harasam may have dropped the student’s backpack as he wandered about the campus. It was at this point that Harasam fled
The investigating officer contacted dispatch and advised that Harasam was “a possible suspect in a backpack theft, but I can’t verify that yet.”
Baileykaze directed the officer to the stolen backpack, which Harasam had apparently dropped. When the officer asked for the location of the student, Baileykaze basically waved him off, holding up his hands as if he were done with the conversation.
“Can we check with the student, see if there’s anything missing? Because if I have to put hands on this guy, it’s going to go south,” the officer told Baileykaze.
Baileykaze then decided he would no longer cooperate with officers, despite earlier alleging that Harasam said he “wanted to take a student.”
“I don’t mean to tell you what to do at all, but we’re good. We’re good. I’ll replace this stuff on my own. Thank you. Thank you,” the principal told the officer and began walking away.
At this point, the officer told dispatch that the principal was being uncooperative. He is “declining to talk to me,” he said.
After fleeing, Harasam then assaulted the DHL driver on a nearby street. Bodycam footage showed officers interviewing the victim while the determined if he needed medical attention. Officers noted the victim had two cuts on his lip.
In a police report submitted by the investigating officer, he wrote:
“[The driver] observed the male suspect get into the driver’s seat of his van. He began yelling at the male to get out, believing the suspect was about to steal the vehicle. [The driver] got to the door of the vehicle and was stuck [sic] in the face with what he believed was a blue binder. He attempted to move out of the way of the strike, but was hit in the mouth, causing a split bleeding lip. [He] pulled the male out of the vehicle, but the suspect grabbed at the mounted cell pone that the victim had by the steering wheel. The victim believed that the suspect was attempting to steal his phone before exiting the vehicle.”
Harasam then got onto a nearby King County Metro bus in an apparent attempt to flee where he also assaulted the bus driver. Prior to the bus leaving, however, officers boarded the bus to take the suspect into custody. Harasam was not interested in being arrested, however.
Bodycam footage showed Harasam resisting arrest and screaming at officers, during which one of the officers was injured. Harasam was eventually subdued and taken into custody. That didn’t last long however, as when additional officers arrived, he once again became agitated and resisted arrest again while police waited for paramedics to arrive.
Had the officers initially been able to arrest Harasam, the assaults on the DHL driver, the Metro driver, and the Seattle police officer would not likely have occurred.
After Harasam was taken into custody, officers went back to the school to advise the principal of the outcome of the incident while also reminding him much of this could have been avoided had he been more cooperative at the school.
The footage seemed to show that Baileykaze was hesitant to meet with the officer in the administrator’s office.
“Actually I can’t wait because we have an injured officer,” the officer told Baileykaze, an attempt to let him know his lack of cooperation led to a police officer being unnecessarily injured. The two finally went into another room to talk.
“See, the reason I needed your information was he committed a crime, but when you walked off, we had no crime so I couldn’t legally do anything. And he tried to assault and rob a DHL driver. Then he went on a metro bus and assaulted I bus driver. I finally need to get your information,” the officer told Baileykaze.
“When they said your school was locked down, the other lady I was talking to said the school is on lockdown. So, you know, these are the kinds of things we need to know,” the officer said.
The officer continued to explain that his wife is a teacher and he is cognizant of the safety concerns prominent at schools. He reminded the principal that even though Harasam didn’t appear to have any weapons, it didn’t mean he wasn’t a threat. He admonished Baileykaze that the situation had escalated from a mere misdemeanor to felonies being committed.
“I couldn’t have you walk away because I had nothing based off of what you said. Based on the law, wee go enforce the laws. If we don’t have a crime, I have no legal recourse to contact him other than a social contact, that he walked off, which he did. It wasn’t until he tried robbing the DHL driver, that I had a crime and a felony at that. That could have been avoided if I knew that he had stolen a backpack at the time,” the officer said.
While the officer was interviewing the principal, a teacher walked int and told the officer that Harasam had actually attempted to grab a few students, while noting he was fixated in particular on one girl and tried to get her to go with him.
“He was trying to come into our classroom, and I was in the doorway, trying to keep him away from this student who was cowering and crying in a corner near him,” the teacher said.
While Baileykaze was more cooperative on the officer’s second trip to the school, it isn’t known why he was being so obstinate the first time. However Seattle police say Baileykaze’s behavior has become the norm when Seattle PD officers deal with educators.
In fact, a number of officers, who asked to remain anonymous, told Rantz they have seen an increase in negative contact toward them by school staff. Some told Rantz they have witnessed it personally, while others said they have heard it second hand from officers.
This is part and parcel of the negative light in which police have been held primarily since the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The president of the Seattle Police Officer Guild, Mike Solan, told Rantz that officers have complained about this issue to him; he blames leadership of the Seattle Public Schools for helping to foment anti-police attitudes among educators.
“We have a fundamental breakdown in our value system. It’s a moral decay. And that’s obviously evident with some of the faculty in these schools. That starts from the top down,” Solan said.
In response to the Floyd death, school administrators at the behest of the school board removed school resource officers (SROs) from schools.
Led by anti-police rhetoric from Black Lives Matter and other social justice warriors, student activists asked to have the SROs removed from campus, claiming they make schools less safe, while also claiming they target minority students.
How has that worked out? Not so good. Two weeks ago, a 14-year-old student murdered a 17-year-old classmate at Ingram High School, leading some to ask for SROs to return to schools.
Rantz said that after the incident with Baileykaze was initially reported on his program, the Jason Rantz Show, the Seattle Public Schools said leadership would meet with the police department to open lines of communication.
In the original case, Harasam was charged with criminal trespass, vehicle prowling, two counts of misdemeanor assault and resisting arrest. Believing he was incompetent to stand trial, a judge dismissed his case. Those charges were filed by the Seattle prosecutor’s office.
After the original dismissal, charges were lodged by the King County Prosecutor’s office after additional information was received from the school. Felony charges of burglary and assault of a child in the second degree were filed against Harasam.
He was scheduled to have a competency hearing on Nov. 14, however no information is available on the results