The Seattle Police Department has released this statement regarding the amateur video which has surfaced showing Seattle police officers in a violent confrontation on the street.
Seattle Police Department Statement
On July 21st, 2009 a 17-year-old male suspect was stopped by an officer for a pedestrian violation in the 600 block of West Smith Street. The suspect was uncooperative, refusing to identify himself or move out of the roadway, and vehicular traffic was blocked. The officer called for assistance. Police Communications upgraded his request to a "Help the Officer" call when a citizen witness called 911 and reported that the officer was in a struggle. Back-up officers arrived on scene and assisted the first officer in guiding the suspect to the ground and handcuffing him. The suspect resisted arrest, and subsequently sustained injuries during the course of the arrest.
SPD In-Car Video captured the first officer's initial interaction with the suspect, the officer's attempts to escort the suspect out of the roadway, and the use of force once the back-up officers arrived.
It is unfortunate that a contact involving a relatively minor offense escalated and subsequently required police use of force to bring a resistive suspect under control. However, one must consider the totality of the circumstances: the first officer was concerned about the suspect's safety as he was crossing streets without looking for traffic and then walking in the roadway while talking on his phone; the suspect was non-compliant and resistive when contacted by the first officer; the back-up officers were responding to a "Help the Officer" call, which is the highest priority request for assistance; responding back-up officers had no knowledge about the incident, only that a fellow officer needed help; and the suspect continued to physically resist even after the back-up officers arrived.
The specific force used by each involved officer was detailed in a Department Use of Force report. A thorough OPA internal investigation was conducted and the four involved officers were exonerated on the allegation of "Unnecessary Use of Force."
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