Pierce County prosecutor rules Tacoma cop acted in self-defense in ‘violent mob’ incident

Jul 14, 2022, 5:18 PM | Updated: 5:23 pm

Tacoma Police Officer Khanh Phan (KIRO 7) Footage of the officer running over at least one persons while trying to escape the violent mob

Last year, video circulated of a Tacoma Police Department officer appearing to run over a group of individuals at a drag race on Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Thursday, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary E. Robnett cleared the officer, Khanh Phan, of any potential charges, determining through independent investigation that those actions were in self-defense.

The incident involved over 100 spectators who grouped themselves around a Tacoma police vehicle. While surrounded, Phan was hit with a bottle of an unidentified liquid, which the officer claims was a molotov cocktail. Fearing for his life, Phan drove through the crowd, potentially running over one of the bystanders, according to Robnett. 

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“People are entitled to act on appearances in defending themselves, even if it might appear afterward that they are mistaken. [His] belief that he was in actual danger is amply supported by the evidence, and therefore reasonable,” Robnett said. 

The prosecuting attorney points out that, generally, a slow-moving vehicle is not considered potentially lethal force. However, an independent investigation, conducted by officers from Puyallup, Milton, and Boney Lake, was carried out to assist in the determination of charges against Phan. 

In summarizing the decision to not pursue charges, Robnett points out that the individuals whom Phan struck positioned themselves in front of his vehicle, calling the bystanders a “violent mob” with expressed intention to harm the responding Tacoma police officers. 

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Pierce County prosecutor rules Tacoma cop acted in self-defense in ‘violent mob’ incident