Seattle, WA

Seattle cop suspended 15 days for threatening ex

Justin Ward
Seattle Police patch on an SPD officer's shoulderPhoto by(Justin Ward)

Rookie Seattle police officer Daniel Perez Puga, 25, received a 15-day suspension for threatening to slash his ex-girlfriend's tires and a series of alleged DV incidents in 2020 and 2021, according to a report released by SPD's oversight body on Thursday.

The report quotes a text from Puga warning her against taking a family trip. The woman wrote that she didn't want to miss out on memories with her son, to which Puga replied, "Yeah you will. You ain't going. I'll slash your tires."

The woman also alleged that Puga assaulted her on several occasions. In interviews with the Office of Police Accountability, the woman described the relationship as "toxic." She depicted Puga as jealous and controlling, particularly with regard to how she wore her hair.

According to the report, Puga objected to her "space buns" hairstyle, which he called "slutty." In one of the text messages, Puga wrote: "You're about to wild the f*** out with that hair. Hair done Make Up Lashes Toes and nails. Yeah who the f*** are you trynna impress. I'm snatching that s*** out next time I see you."

The woman told OPA that Puga did just that in the spring of 2021. According to the report, she said he told her that she "was not allowed to wear her hair that way." She said he ripped one of the buns out of her hair and attempted to grab the other one.

In September 2020, the woman said Puga "grabbed her by the arm, pushed her against the passenger door, causing her head to strike the passenger window three times." She produced a picture from her phone showing visible bruising on her arm dated Sept. 15, 2020, according to the OPA report.

In another incident, the woman said that Puga became irate when he saw her wearing her hair in buns again over a video call and demanded she come over to his apartment. When the woman refused because she was afraid, he allegedly coerced her into coming over by threatening to reveal an embarrassing secret, she said.

The woman said she didn't want to get out of the car out of fear that he would harm her, and he responded by saying, "Yeah, I'm going to hurt you." She also recounted other incidents in which Puga allegedly wouldn't allow her to leave and she felt frightened because his SPD-issued firearm was on the dresser within reach.

In his interview with OPA investigators, Puga blamed the woman's bruising on "fainting." He admitted to sending the texts but contends that the arguments were "entirely verbal." He noted that he never actually followed through on his threat to slash her tires.

Kirkland Police Department investigated the woman's domestic violence allegations, but the Kirkland City Attorney declined charges, citing the lack of independent corroboration aside from the texts and photos.

The OPA wrote that the decision to sustain allegations was a "close call," but the agency ultimately found that the preponderance of evidence showed Puga violated the law when he threatened to slash his ex-girlfriend's tires and pull her hair buns out.

The statements created a "reasonable fear" that he would carry out the threats, satisfying the definition of criminal harassment under Washington law. OPA found that they could not prove the allegations of assault but acknowledged that the woman's account was "plausible" and "partially corroborated" by the texts and pictures.

Puga is a relatively recent hire and was a probationary officer at the time of the incidents. Two other Seattle police officers are currently under investigation for similar conduct. Ofc. Andrew Swartz is being investigated for allegedly stalking and harassing his ex-girlfriend in Snohomish County.

Ofc. Rosa Lopez-Ojeda has been on leave since 2020 for allegedly assaulting her significant other, also a police officer, at the home of another SPD officer.

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Justin Ward is an investigative reporter specializing in police accountability as well as local politics, housing and homelessness.

Seattle, WA

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