Investigation: Seattle cop used police database to stalk ex-girlfriend

Andrew Swartz, 35, was placed on administrative leave when a young woman filed a restraining order against him.

A Seattle Police vehicle sits parked at Hing Hay Park on March 18, 2021, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

A Seattle Police vehicle sits parked at Hing Hay Park on March 18, 2021, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

SEATTLE — A Seattle police officer who is under investigation for using police equipment to stalk his ex-girlfriend was placed on administrative leave, according to a department spokesperson.

Detectives believe there is probable cause that Andrew Swartz, 35, committed felony domestic violence stalking over a two-month period while working as a police officer in 2021, according to records filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

On Sept. 6 of that year, a Monroe woman filed a request for a restraining order against Swartz. In sworn written statements, she wrote that she caught Swartz underneath her car, apparently placing a tracking device. She also wrote Swartz had followed her while she was driving multiple times.

“There has been several prior incidents of stalking since we broke up in mid July,” the woman wrote.

A police department spokesperson confirmed in an email this month that Swartz was on administrative leave and confirmed the Office of Public Accountability is actively investigating the officer.

In her restraining order request, the woman asked the judge to make the order last at least 12 months.

“I’m afraid if it doesn’t last a year or longer, he will harm me or a family member,” she wrote.

Other witnesses corroborated the woman’s story, including a man who identified himself as a longtime friend of Swartz. The friend submitted a signed declaration to a judge in the protection order case. He wrote that Swartz was “terrorizing” the woman and her family.

“As a police officer, he should know and understand how his actions and stalking of (the woman) are scary and terrorizing her and her family,

The woman, 23, told law enforcement that she and Swartz had dated for about 11 months. When they broke up, she started dating another man.

On July 31, 2021, the new boyfriend reportedly told police he was home with his children when the doorbell rang. He went downstairs to open the door, the boyfriend reported, and saw a man looking into a side window with his “face pressed against the glass.”

The man at the window identified himself as an employee from “J & J Financial” and asked about refinancing his home, according to a police report. He told the man to leave. The woman had showed the new boyfriend a photo of Swartz, police wrote, and he said the man who came to his house looked similar to Swartz.

Law enforcement conducted a search and did not find any record of a company called “J & J Financial” in the state of Washington. Further investigation revealed Swartz used a police database to search the new boyfriend’s name.

“The running of a vehicle or person for the purpose of personal gain (non-law enforcement) is a violation of a user’s agreement,” a detective wrote in a police report, adding that he is also investigating whether the misuse is also a crime.

The new boyfriend told law enforcement that Swartz photographed him and the woman at a hotel in Lynnwood.

On Aug. 3, 2021, the woman called police from her workplace to report a suspicious device appeared to have been placed on her car, police wrote. The woman’s coworker reportedly told police she was sitting in her car outside the workplace when she saw a white man walk up to a car, toss a piece of candy on the ground beneath the car and go underneath the car.

When the man noticed he had an audience, he quickly ran away, the coworker reported. Startled, the coworker ran into the workplace and found out the car belonged to the woman who was reportedly being stalked.

Law enforcement showed the coworker a photo of Swartz, and she reported she could “confidently” say he was the person she saw in the parking lot that day.

Security video of the parking lot reportedly showed a man running away from the car with something “small and black” in his left hand. Detectives who reviewed still images of the footage believe the man in the video was Swartz, police wrote.

Evidence led police to determine the woman “had been followed by Andrew Swartz for the past few weeks and that there was or had been a tracking device on her vehicle,” the court document reads.

A month after the parking lot incident, the woman’s mother called police to report her daughter had been followed in her car by a silver Mazda SUV with Oregon license plates. The Mazda reportedly followed her from her workplace to her home, then to her gym. The mother told police that a different time, her daughter was helping set up a friend’s wedding when another guest reported they saw a man sitting in a silver SUV, looking through binoculars.

The woman reported she was later followed by a black car with Utah plates. Frightened, she called her mother while driving. The mother drove to the street, caught up with the cars and took down the license plate number of the black car. Detectives ran the plates and found it was a black Kia registered to a rental car company.

After the woman lost sight of the car, one of her relatives — a longtime friend of Swartz — called the police officer and asked where he was. At first, Swartz lied, the friend reported. Then he reportedly admitted to following the woman “in an attempt to get her to sign civil papers.”

“I told him that it was ridiculous to go talk to the person that is filing a restraining order,” the friend wrote in a signed declaration.

Swartz did not heed his friend’s advice, police wrote.

Forty-five minutes after the phone call, Swartz reportedly showed up at the woman’s home in Monroe, driving the black Kia with Utah plates.

The woman filed a protection order in Snohomish County Superior Court in response to the repeated stalking.

Detectives wrote evidence collected in the investigation showed Swartz “intentionally and repeatedly” followed the woman and that she had repeatedly expressed fear in writing to family, friends and law enforcement.

“I believe his employment as a police officer, his investigative experience in domestic violence situations and his specific yearly training on the subject is evidence,” a detective wrote, “that Andrew reasonably knew he was placing (the woman) in fear for her safety or cause her to feel harassed.”

A 22-page affidavit requesting a search warrant to go through Swartz’s phone records was signed by Superior Court Judge Miguel Duran on Sept. 27, 2022.

Seattle Police Department spokesperson Patrick Michaud told The Daily Herald that Swartz was still employed by the department as of November 2022.

“It shows him at human resources,” Michaud said, “And we don’t really have any officers at human resources. … It’s a placeholder thing.”

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen.

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