Tacoma police car seen driving into crowd at street race downtown
According to video shared on social media Saturday night, a Tacoma police officer drove into a crowd of people gathered for a street race downtown.
Tacoma police said they were called at 6:19 p.m. to Ninth South and Pacific where cars were blocking the roadway and doing burnouts and doughnuts. A crowd of about 100 people was gathered in the intersection, according to police. Officers began clearing the intersection of cars and people.
Tacoma police say an officer’s vehicle was stopped and surrounded by a crowd. Some people began banging on the hood and windows as the officer was stopped. TPD says the officer tried to back up, but couldn’t. He had the lights and sirens turned on. The officer drove forward, hitting one person and possibly more.
Tacoma police officer Wendy Haddow told KIRO 7 that the officer was afraid the crowd would break the vehicle’s glass. He sped out of the scene for his own safety, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
TPD says the officer stopped and called for medical aid.
One person was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to KIRO 7. KING 5 reported two people were taken to hospitals after the incident. One was released Sunday morning and no information was provided about the second person.
The officer was identified as Khanh Phan, 58, who’s been a member of the department for 29.5 years, according to TPD. He was placed on administrative leave per department policy immediately following the incident.
One witness told the Tribune, “A lot of people swarmed in that direction (of the police car) … They were intending to block him.”
Another told KIRO 7, “I was shocked, I was shaken, I was confused, I was scared. This officer just ran this group of people over and then fled the scene. … I want justice for the people who just got injured. Squad car 2815 needs to be held accountable.”
“I am concerned that our department is experiencing another use of deadly force incident,” Interim Police Chief Mike Ake said in a news release Saturday night. “I send my thoughts to anyone who was injured in tonight’s event, and am committed to our Department’s full cooperation in the independent investigation and to assess the actions of the department’s response during the incident.”
Tacoma police have turned the investigation over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team to conduct an independent investigation.
TPD said on Sunday that the Community’s Police Advisory Board is holding a meeting on Jan. 25th at 6:00 p.m., via Zoom to discuss the incident. Witnesses who recorded video are asked to contact the Puyallup Police Department at 253-770-3343 or [email protected]
Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards issued a statement about the incident:
“For those who woke up this morning feeling outrage, frustration, grief, heartbreak, or confusion, I understand and honor your feelings. I, too, am deeply saddened by what we saw last night.
As a use of deadly force, this incident is being taken very seriously and the scene has appropriately been turned over to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team for independent investigation. As we learn the facts of the case, I have called on the City Manager and Police Chief to ensure that everyone involved is held accountable.
While we await more information, I want the community to know that I am deeply concerned and praying for everyone who was impacted by last night’s events.
I continue to be proud of Tacoma’s long-standing reputation as a place of strong, non-violent advocacy and activism. I continue to support your right to use your voice to advocate and demonstrate peacefully during this time of heightened tension.
I know our community’s resiliency continues to be tested. I also know that we are strong and that we will get through this together.”
A large crowd of protesters gathered at a park near the incident Sunday night.
“We want to see the officer actually fired and charged,” one lifelong Tacoma resident holding a Defund TPD sign told The Seattle Times. “Paid vacation isn’t a punishment.”