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caption: Adrian Diaz officially became chief of the Seattle Police Department on Sept. 20, 2022 after serving as interim chief for two years.
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Adrian Diaz officially became chief of the Seattle Police Department on Sept. 20, 2022 after serving as interim chief for two years.
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'I was made to be the fall guy.' Fired Seattle police employee breaks silence amid rumor fallout

Two weeks ago, the Seattle Police Department fired a low-level employee, saying he had spread a rumor that Chief Adrian Diaz had hired a romantic partner to be his advisor.

The police department on Friday released the internal investigation into the employee, Durand Dace, implying strongly that the employee had concocted the rumor based on a vague conversation with a friend outside of the police department.

Dace has since come forward with a statement, saying he believes he was scapegoated. The rumor about the chief’s alleged relationship has swirled around the department for months, becoming a massive distraction at a time when the department is in turmoil.

“The timing of the EEO investigation, as well as the findings, feels rushed, retaliatory, and targeted,” Dace wrote in a statement to KUOW. “I remain staunchly adamant that I was made to be the fall guy, and sternly maintain that I am not the primary source of this rumor as it spread throughout the department."

Dace was fired on Sept. 6, the day after KUOW Public Radio published an investigation about the rumor and the lengths Diaz had gone to quash it.

Dace was not one of KUOW’s 23 sources for its original investigation about the rumor.

RELATED: Seattle Police employee fired after being accused of spreading rumor about chief

He was also not the sole focus of Chief Diaz’s hunt for people talking about the rumor.

Diaz at one time told his command staff in a meeting that he suspected the rumor originated from one of them, according to two sources.

Diaz also confronted employees in the public affairs office, according to sources.

After that, Dace confessed to his manager that he discussed the rumor with others and he apologized to the advisor over the phone. From that confession came an Equal Employment Opportunity investigation, an internal human resources inquiry.

Diaz retained attorney Ted Buck to handle media inquiries related to the alleged relationship between the chief and the woman hired on May 26 to be his advisor. KUOW is not naming the woman, as she has not been accused of wrongdoing, nor identifying her official title.

Buck said Diaz and the woman were friends, nothing more, and that before Diaz hired the woman, she helped Diaz with speech ideas over several late-night restaurant meals. Buck said Diaz went into the woman’s apartment building more than once because Diaz helped her with a home improvement project and helped a friend of hers prepare for police exams.

The woman told internal human resource investigators that she did not have any kind of “non-working relationship” with Chief Diaz before and after being hired.

According to the human resources investigation report:

The woman urged Diaz to hire Dace. She knew Dace before either of them went to the Seattle Police Department.

“I did reference him to Chief Diaz, like I recommended him, just saying, ‘He’d be a good one,’” the advisor said.

Dace first heard speculation of an alleged affair before Seattle Police hired him.

It came up during a conversation with a friend of his, according to the investigation. Dace relayed to this friend that the soon-to-be advisor was also considering a role at the police department, which his friend found odd -- someone held that role already, and as far as she knew, that person wasn’t leaving the department.

Dace told investigators that he mentioned the rumor to a cop colleague after being hired.

That cop said that officers at a downtown precinct had seen a car that was the same color and make as the advisor's car, dropping or picking up Chief Diaz. When they learned that the soon-to-be advisor lived very nearby, they wondered about a relationship between the two.

Dace’s cop friend told him that if the advisor was hired it could be seen as nepotism, and that he should report anything he knew to internal investigators. Dace said he didn’t because he had “minimal information” and considered it just a rumor.

“Never did I declare that I knew that they were having an affair or that they were … doing anything in regard to, like, having an affair,” Dace told investigators. “To me it was just, you know, I don’t know if they are having an affair. I don’t know if they are seeing each other, but this is what I’m hearing.”

Dace told investigators that he got “caught up” in some moments when people would ask him questions about the rumor, and that he wanted to be liked. He said he wasn’t trying to be malicious and that he had no reason to believe that the relationship between the advisor and Chief Diaz was anything but professional.

The advisor was also interviewed as part of the human resources investigation. She said Matt Markovich, a KIRO Newsradio reporter, called her in May, to tell her that he heard a rumor that police officers were surveilling her.

Markovich called her again the next week to apologize. He told her he believed he may have played a part in spreading the rumor, because he “cornered” Deputy Mayor Tim Burgess at a Starbucks and brought it to his attention.

On the evening of the Fourth of July, after the advisor was hired, a conservative Facebook page made a post about the alleged affair rumor. The advisor saw an email in the Seattle Police media inbox, from a reporter asking about the post.

According to the investigation, the advisor got a call from her friend Brandi Kruse, a former FOX 13 broadcast reporter who now runs her own Patreon account.

“Well I have a huge police following,” the advisor told investigators Kruse said. “I haven’t heard any of this, but if I hear it, I’ll let you know and you know, I’ll smack it down.”

Kruse made comments on the Safe Seattle Facebook post and on Twitter she lambasted KUOW’s reporting and criticized the outlet’s decision to publish about the rumor’s impact. She did not disclose that she was friends with the advisor.

At the end of June, Dace called the advisor to apologize because he felt he played a role in the rumor’s spread.

The advisor told investigators that she’s only maintained a professional relationship with Chief Diaz, and that the rumors were creating a hostile work environment.

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