A Seattle attorney has filed a lawsuit against the police department for their failure to release “the worst police misconduct video” he has ever seen.
Attorney James Egan says the video shows his client, Leo Etherly, being choked and punched in the face by officers.
On Oct. 6, Etherly was stopped by officers who were investigating a hit-and-run accident in the Central District. According to Egan, a video inside one of their patrol cars shows an officer punch Etherly in the face while two others pin him to the hood of the cruiser and choke him.
“The officers are heard – crystal clear – saying, ‘Well, I’m not choking you,’ but he is. Then he calls him a (expletive) idiot,” Egan said.
Etherly was arrested for allegedly spitting on one of the officers during the incident, but claims he accidentally coughed-up saliva while he was being choked.
Misdemeanor assault charges in the case were eventually dismissed.
Egan claims the Seattle Police Department will not allow him to release the video to the media because it is not a public record. He received a copy of the video through discovery while representing Etherly and such records are often confidential.
“This is a circumstance where the police have an awful public record and I want it and I want to give it to you,” Egan said.
In a post on their blotter, a police department spokesperson said they plan to release the video to Egan, but implied that he is being impatient.
“This request is currently in process. Once completed, Mr. Egan will receive another copy of the same video,” the post read.
“The SPD Public Disclosure Unit handles on average 4,000 requests for records per year … Since 2008, Mr. Egan alone has made 316 requests of the Seattle Police Department. He has 10 requests that are currently pending. His current request, like all others, will be handled in the order in which it was received.”
KIRO Radio has also filed a public disclosure request for the video.