Seattle Police defend handling of Phoenix Jones fistfight

Nov 13, 2012, 1:13 PM | Updated: 1:56 pm


The Seattle Police Department is defending the way officers handled a fistfight between Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones and a drunken man.

Jones had called 911 and tried to defuse the situation. It was only when the man threatened Phoenix and said he’d follow him home that Phoenix agreed to fight his aggressor.

“I’m not going to let someone follow me to my house,” said Phoenix in an interview with The Dori Monson Show. “I’m not letting some guy who’s violent with other people follow me home. It’s not going to happen. If it had just been about him calling me the N-word, I would have walked it off, like I told the cops. It was just, the cop had said he was going to let that guy follow me. No one is going to follow me.”

Jones argued he was legally justified to fight the guy based on a law allowing people to engage in “mutual combat.”

Tuesday on the Dori Monson Show, SPD Sgt. Sean Whitcomb explained why officers didn’t step in.

“I can guarantee you that if our officers would have gone in there to get that party moved along, and if they would have refused, there probably would have been some sort of forced response there,” Whitcomb said. “Then the conversation would be second guessing officers for being too heavy handed with people that have been drinking.”

Whitcomb said city ordinances prohibit any unwanted physical contact as assault, and fighting in public is unlawful if it creates substantial risk of injury to a bystander or damage to someone else’s property. In this case, they were on the sidewalk with little threat of harm to anyone else.

“I’m not going to second guess the officers who were out at the scene and who had a much broader perspective of everything else that wasn’t captured by that phone camera,” Whitcomb said.

Phoenix acknowledged to Dori he could have seriously injured or even killed the other guy, given his martial arts training. He is certain a jury would have exonerated him since the men agreed to fight. Whitcomb says police would have rather they just went their separate ways instead, but handled it in the way they deemed most appropriate given the situation.

“We do a really tough job. We have to make a lot of decisions based on limited information and sometimes we have to go with our gut,” Whitcomb said.

“On this particular case we showed up, we tried to keep the peace and maintain order which is our job. We encouraged people to go their separate ways, that didn’t happen. We looked at the different options available to us and the officers on the scene were very patient, very calm. They did their best to de-escalate the situation.”

Whitcomb said no charges were filed and officers didn’t file a police report because there was no crime. He pointed out the fight’s loser declined medical assistance following the fight.

“No victim, no suspect, no crime.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Seattle Police defend handling of Phoenix Jones fistfight