Man who allegedly threatened to kill Pramila Jayapal released from jail

A Seattle man who was arrested Saturday for allegedly committing a hate crime against Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal was released from jail Wednesday.

According to the Seattle Times, King County prosecutors said Seattle police released him because they couldn’t say with certainty that he told the congresswoman to go back to India or that he threatened to kill her.

Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said the investigation is ongoing and that prosecutors have not declined to file a criminal case but currently do not have evidence to prove a hate crime was committed.

According to the outlet, Jayapal’s husband provided a video from their home security system where the last part of the word “India” can be heard, followed by an expletive-laced rant directed at Jayapal, and in another clip, the man can be seen approaching the house while yelling profanities about being Jayapal’s neighbor.

This was followed by a metallic sound that police could not be sure if it was sound was from a handgun being racked or if it was from the clang of metal tent poles as the man tried to set up a tent on Jayapal’s property.

Police discovered that the suspect sent an email to Jayapal’s public account in January, saying he didn’t like her because of her “perceived political wrongdoings.” He has also allegedly driven by her house and shouted obscenities at her multiple times since late June.

According to the outlet, McNerthney wrote in an email, “In a time of increased political violence, security concerns against any elected official should be taken seriously, as we are doing here. The investigation is ongoing, and our office is working with police investigators to make sure we understand the full extent of the suspect’s actions to build the strongest case possible.”

He continued, “The suspect’s alleged language and actions, coupled with his possession of a concealed weapon, deserve the full attention of the justice system. Presently, the investigation is ongoing and our office is working with police investigators to make sure we understand the full extent of the suspect’s actions to build the strongest case possible.”

According to court documents, Seattle Police obtained a temporary Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) on Wednesday which required the 48-year-old suspect to surrender his firearms and concealed pistol license, due to concerns about escalating behavior toward Jayapal and increasing mental health struggles.

Within 14 days of a temporary ERPO being issued, a full hearing is held before a judge who decides whether to grant or deny a permanent ERPO, which would ban the suspect from purchasing or owning firearms for a year.

Prosecutors now have 72 hours to file criminal charges against the suspect and if charges are not filed within that time frame, the suspect must be released from jail.

48-year-old Brett Forsell is suspected of yelling racially-charged threats at Jayapal while standing outside of her home. In 2016, Jayapal, became the first Indian American woman elected to the US House of Representatives.

Under Washington state law, a hate crime is a Class C felony and is defined as intentionally injuring, damaging property, or threatening someone because of the victim’s ancestry, color, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or mental, physical or sensory disability.

According to court documents, Forsell stood outside the progressive politician’s home, yelling threats and using obscene language at 11:25 pm on Saturday, July 9. Jayapal’s husband told 911 dispatchers that he believed the man may have shot a pellet gun, but he was unsure, according to police.

Officers who responded saw Forsell in the middle of the street with his hands in the air and a .40-caliber handgun holstered on his waist.

Forsell told investigators that he knew the house was Jayapal’s, and that he wanted to pitch a tent on her property. Neighbors told police they heard Forsell yell something to the effect of, “go back to India, I’m going to kill you.” According to the same neighbor, the man drove by Jayapal’s home at least three times, yelling profanities. Forsell was taken into custody and booked on the charge of malicious harassment.

It has also been learned that the man told officers he wanted to buy an assault-style rifle for protection but denied saying anything about Jayapal’s ethnicity or threatening to kill her.

In a statement at the time, Jayapal’s office said, “Congresswoman Jayapal confirms that incidents occurred at her Seattle home on Saturday night when she was present. The Congresswoman and her family are safe and appreciate the many calls and good wishes she is receiving from constituents.

“She is very grateful for the swift and professional response from the Seattle Police Department, the US Capitol Police, and the FBI investigators who are working together diligently on the investigation and ensuring that she and her family stay safe. Because this is an ongoing investigation, she will not be commenting further at this time.”

Jayapal previously supported the defund police movement and advocated for reform of the justice system.

Jayapal was also one of 27 Democrats who voted against a bill that passed in the House last month 396-27, to increase security for Supreme Court justices’ families, after a man was arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

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