Report rules SPD officer didn’t intentionally pepper-spray child during protest

Sep 18, 2020, 10:50 AM | Updated: 10:58 am

Seattle protest, pepper spray...

Body-worn camera footage during a downtown Seattle protest. (Office of Police Accountability, YouTube)

(Office of Police Accountability, YouTube)

Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released its first set of findings regarding SPD’s conduct during protests in late May and early June.

Seattle council questions SPD’s use of tear gas, mace during protests

The OPA’s findings were highlighted by a ruling on an incident that saw a young child pepper-sprayed by a police officer during a downtown Seattle protest. After a video was circulated showing the child in tears after the incident, over 13,000 separate complaints were filed.

Ultimately, the OPA ruled that the officer responsible for pepper-spraying the child did so inadvertently. Body camera footage reviewed and published by the OPA shows that the pepper spray was initially deployed against a protester who had grabbed an officer’s baton. The child, who was standing behind the protester, was hit by the spray after the protester ducked to get out of the way.

That being so, the OPA ultimately decided that the child “was not individually targeted” by the officer, while expressing remorse over the end result.

“The picture of the Child standing in the middle of the street, crying, with milk running down his face is an unforgettable image from these demonstrations,” OPA head Andrew Myerberg said in his report on the incident. “It shows an innocent child who was a victim regardless of the circumstances. That the Child suffered this trauma is something that OPA is extremely sorry for and that no decision in an administrative investigation can ever remedy.”

“This is one of the hardest cases that I, as the OPA Director, have had to consider during my nearly three years in office,” he added.

Police oversight groups differ on council’s crowd control weapons ban

The OPA also presented findings on five other incidents, including one where an officer was recorded restraining a protester by placing his knee on their neck. While noting that the officer wasn’t intentionally trying to impair the protester’s ability to breathe, the OPA did rule that he used a form of restraint that is “flatly prohibited” by the department. Discipline for that officer is pending a decision from interim Chief Adrian Diaz.

“Even if not intended to impair breathing, it can functionally do so,” the OPA’s report on the incident reads. “As the nation saw in Minneapolis, that improper tactic can cause serious injury and even death.”

You can read through the rest of the OPA’s findings on their demonstration complaint dashboard here.

MyNorthwest News

NAACP kamala harris...

Sam Campbell

‘It’s about time’: NAACP leader in WA applauds possibility of Harris as presidential nominee

NAACP members reportedly scrambled to regroup following President Joe Biden’s sudden withdrawal from the race on Sunday.

2 hours ago

hit-and-run lake city...

Frank Sumrall, MyNorthwest; James Lynch, KIRO Newsradio

Hit-and-run in Seattle’s Lake City kills one early Monday morning

A man was killed in a hit-and-run in Seattle’s Lake City neighborhood at Northeast 125th Street and 30th Avenue Northeast Monday morning.

6 hours ago

kent kidnapping...

Frank Sumrall

Kent Police: Second attempted kidnapping in less than a week

A 911 caller contacted Kent Police July 19 after an unknown adult male reached inside a window of the caller's home and grabbed their young daughter.

8 hours ago

Photo: Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday mornin...

Julia Dallas

Seattle police: Woman shot in both hands in early morning drive-by shooting

Detectives are investigating a Seattle drive-by shooting that happened early Saturday morning. A woman was shot in her hands.

22 hours ago

Photo: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the 75th anniversary of NATO at the Andrew W. Mellon...

MyNorthwest and KIRO Newsradio staff

‘Bring it on:’ Washington officials react to Biden dropping out of the race

Washington officials have reacted to President Joe Biden dropping out of the 2024 presidential election.

1 day ago

I-5 pedestrian killed...

Bill Kaczaraba

Man killed in hit-and-run on Interstate 5 in Seattle

The Washington State Patrol is in the process of gathering further details about a traffic incident on Interstate-5that left one man dead.

2 days ago

Report rules SPD officer didn’t intentionally pepper-spray child during protest