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Former SPD chief Norm Stamper: ‘Use of force’ never pretty


Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says “use of force is never pretty” after watching the latest police dash-cam video of a hit-and-run suspect who resisted arrest.

In a story first reported earlier this week, the recording shows the suspect struggling with police as they try to arrest him. While two officers attempt to subdue Leo Etherly and pin him to the hood of the patrol car, a third moves in and pushes his hand against the man’s throat.

“Quit choking me sir,” Etherly said.

“I’m not choking you,” said the officer. “I’m getting your head away from me.”

At that point, Etherly appears to spit in the direction of one of the officers. The officer who had him by the throat then punches Etherly in the left eye.

“When people put up resistance, whether it takes the form of a gun or a knife or a fist or spitting on a police officer, the officer has a right and an obligation to use force,” says Stamper. He tells KIRO Radio that use of force is not unusual.

Stamper is concerned about the actions of the third officer seen striking the suspect.

“I share the observation that things seemed pretty calm until the third officer got in the middle…”

The chief points out that police are trained to de-escalate.

“And what that requires, I think, is a calm, non-threatening, confident manner and I dare say a quiet voice.”

The former Seattle chief says when a suspect delivers verbal taunts, officers are challenged to be the best that he or she can be. Editor Josh Kerns contributed to this report.

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