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Luke Burbank: Conflict shown in latest SPD video didn’t have to happen

After watching a video released Friday by a lawyer showing a Seattle police officer striking a man during an arrest in 2010, KIRO Radio’s Luke Burbank says the thing that bothers him most is that it appears the conflict didn’t have to happen.

“Watch the video and ask yourself: Did this need to happen?” said Burbank on Monday’s Ross and Burbank Show.

The video shows Isaac Ocak, 18 at the time, who had left a car locked with the engine running outside a department store while he returned some items on Dec. 29, 2010, said his attorney, James Egan. When he came back, officers questioned him about why he’d left it there.

The video shows Ocak speaking with the officers and referring to one as “sir” but becoming more agitated as he was questioned. As the questioning continued, Ocak occasionally lifted his hands off the hood of a patrol car despite orders to leave them there. As officers pressed him to the hood, Ocak resisted. An officer is seen grabbing Ocak’s mouth and Ocak bit him, prompting the officer to punch him twice in the head as other officers held him down.

Watching the physical exchange, Luke says the officer’s behavior certainly isn’t the worst of the worst, but it seems the way the situation deteriorated could have been avoided.

“It is a situation that did not have to happen, in my opinion,” says Luke. “I would describe this kid’s behavior as annoyed but compliant. He’s bothered because he doesn’t think the officer should be hassling him […] Looking at the situation, the kid does not seem to present a threat.”

Ocak’s attorney James Egan obtained the video under the state’s Public Records Act and publicized it Friday after filing a complaint for damages against the city on Ocak’s behalf.

Egan said the incident shows unnecessary aggression by the officers, and fits in with the Justice Department’s findings that Seattle police had a pattern of unnecessarily using force, especially in low-level situations that could be resolved verbally.

Taking a look at the consequences now, Luke says it’s upsetting things had to go this way.

“What you have at the end of it is an officer apparently with a bit finger. You have a kid that got roughed up pretty good. You’ve got a $100,000 lawsuit against the police department, which by the way means us, when it comes to who pays this out, all over something that didn’t necessarily have to happen.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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