City Council Members Criticize Tactics Used by Seattle Police on May Day, Police Chief Responds

Comments

1
Council member with no understanding of police work questioning a high ranking officer like a petulant toddler? Yeah, the only surprise here was that the petulant toddler disguised as a council member wasn't Sawant.

News flash, all those who hate all police- if you assault police officers you're going ro be arrested. I realize your mental age and competence stopped developing at about 12, but the adults around you (unlike Harrel and the moron Herz) understand that.
2
F@CK THE CITY COUNCIL. I stand with Seattle's Finest.
4
Elected officials trying to hold the police accountable?!? Clutch the pearls!!
5
Harrell assumes that every encounter is ripe for de-escalation. We don't use it enough in encounters where it could work, but Harrell makes the mistake of calling for it in a circumstance where the specific goal of this group (not the two groups earlier in the day) was to provoke and have a confrontation. In the latter case, police need to overcome resistance quickly, show it will be futile, and get the protesters to give up.
6
Still want comprehensive answers on these flash bangs.

There is not one single community on earth where you can find that it has been decided that throwing these grenades at people is ok. To call their use a distraction technique just leads to more questions like: Was this before or after a riot had started? Do all officers carry these on daily patrol? Why would any officer carry these to a march in the first place?

Absolutely disgusting and their use is nothing new, they have been throwing these things for a couple years now into crowds and it needs to end.

Seattle Police Department actually throws bombs at the citizens it is sworn to protect.
7
A districted city council was lamentably voted in. Therefore consider councilperson Harrell's more (geographically) narrowed point of view. There will be far more such 'side effects' to come.
9
@5 If a group of protestors is seeking a confrontation it's poor strategy to give them one, especially one out of proportion to the original provocation, like this one. If the response to throwing a hollow piece of plastic is the same as throwing a Molotov cocktail, it doesn't leave much doubt what way things are going to go.
10
@1: God forbid that an elected councilman question the city's police department about their tactics. Look at it this way: President Obama doesn't have military experience (other than as Commander-in-Chief), but it's his prerogative to question his generals on their tactics and overall strategy if he has concerns about their effectiveness, because he's in charge.

According to the write-up, Councillors Harrell and Licata didn't tell the PD "this is wrong, you shouldn't be doing this, do this other thing instead because I said so, punish the officers who did this, do it now, chop-chop". They just expressed concerns and asked the PD to account for the tactics they used and consider making changes, and the PD said they'd review everything that happened like they always do. You know, this is how civics works. If it becomes taboo for non-LEOs to question the tactics and decision-making of police forces, how the hell are we supposed to keep the police honest? You're so worried about governmental tyranny, but for whatever reason you don't consider that if the police were immune to outside questioning, we'd essentially be living in a police state.
11
Don't we have body cam footage for any of this? I thought we were getting those on capitol hill so we can stop this stupid his-word-versus-her-word crap. It was incredibly clear yesterday that SPD is not even slightly apathetic or even concerned as they were simply unprepared. This was a slam dunk in their books and we can probably expect next year to be worse.
12
Wake me up when one of these Spontaneous Demonstrations of the People decide to take on a mansion.
13
@11: One of the helicopters hovering was, I believe, operated by King County Sheriff's Office, who were undoubtedly performing surveillance of the entire demonstration, if so. There should be plenty of high-resolution video of the circumstances leading to the over-the-handlebars flying tackle arrest.

I very much want to know if the cop diving off his bike and rolling around on the ground resulted in an "officer down" call. From a half-block behind, it sure felt like it.

@9 FTW.
14
I don't understand the logic in critiquing the police response; when nobody has criticized the thugs and criminals who disrupted what had been a peaceful protest. The reality is if someone breaks the law police officers by their very oath are required to make an arrest. If this individual was allowed to remain free what other destructive actions would this individual had committed? People criticizing the police for doing their job "to protect and serve".
Peaceful protest are a necessary component of a free society. There is no room for violence and destruction. Anybody who steps over the line needs to be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law! At least these people will be identified as the hateful thugs that they are! Maybe a new restriction can be added to people convicted of committing crimes in protest. Modeled after the stay out of drug areas and stay out of prostitution areas. The restriction would be stay out of areas of protest. There very presence at the protest would be an arrestable offence!
15
@6, Would you prefer that cops actually wade into the melee to break it up resulting in physical confrontation, or that use these things to try and get people to stop without having that confrontation? It's all relative.

@9 You did read the list of charges, so far. What do you propose standing back and letting the "protesters" vandalize and assault? Once the protester initiates and illegal act, the police have an obligation to use "reasonable" force to overcome and stop unlawful acts. See RCW 9A.16.020. Other citizens don't have the obligation, but they have the right. See also RCW 9A.16.020. The question is what is "reasonable". It is highly fact and circumstance dependent. It has been debated ever since society found a need to create armies and police. It is very hard to define with any objectiveness or specificity. It is even harder to apply what definition is provided, moment-by-moment, split second, as incidents unfold. The more chaotic and fluid, the more difficult it is. It is questionable that it is even possible to do it perfectly, time after time within the limits of human cognitive and physical performance. If that is the case, then you have to decide how many and what type of errors to give those doing the application of those principals in split-second decisions. RCW 9A.16.040 (3) draws the line at "bad faith". Once "bad faith" is involved then, and only then, does it become criminally culpable for a cop. These issues aren't as easy or cut and dry and most commenters seem to suggest nor are the "answers" to the questions very satisfying. There is more nuance and "grey" around the issue of application of force than anyone here wants to own up to.

16
@14, SafetyRick wrote, "I don't understand the logic in critiquing the police response; when nobody has criticized the thugs and criminals who disrupted what had been a peaceful protest."

It is reasonable to hold our peace officers to a higher standard than that to which we hold "thugs and criminals," is it not?

Those other people are not professionally-trained to maintain their cool in situations like this. Those other people don't work for us. Our elected representatives have no duty to provide oversight of those other people.

All of that is true of the police.
17
Police have overreacted in the past. This time I thought they showed remarkable patience and restraint in the face of asshole troublemakers whose sole goal is to provoke the police and get something on video.
18
I'm for the police response and arrests... One shouldn't think they can wander up to the hill and break stuff without consequences. I shouldn't feel like I have to leave town on May 1st because anarchist assholes think they can get away with whatever they want.

You throw things at police, you get arrested and you get charged. You wanna walk in the streets and have a protest march, knock yourself out. It would be preferred that you let us know it's coming so I can plan accordingly.
19
@14: No one has criticized smashing windows or spraypainting graffiti? Are you fucking kidding? Lots of people have criticized that, but they've also said that just because a couple people are doing those things, doesn't mean the cops should be chucking bombs at people (because that's what a grenade is, it's a bomb. A small one, but a bomb).
20
@16: Hey, thanks again for your tireless efforts on behalf of the body politic. I've said before and will say again, we may not always agree, but I respect and appreciate the work you've done.
21
@18: I was there. Most of the people targeted by police were not throwing things, but simply marching along, complying with orders to keep moving.

You'd have known it was coming if you saw any of the many announcements about the various May Day demonstrations posted well ahead of time. But please remember that when people are worked up enough to take to the streets in protest, there's often not much notice. We're not talking about a parade, here. That's the 3pm thing.
22
riot gear obviously can't withstand orange traffic cones
23
riot gear obviously can't withstand orange traffic cones. riot gear couldn't withstand water bottles in ferguson.
24
@23, So if people put on riot gear to protect themselves, that entitles others to assault them, up to the limits of the riot gear to prevent injury?
25
@27: I would very much like to see what would happen if more participants showed up to demonstrations wearing protective gear.
26
@24 traffic cone vs flash bangs and rubber bullets?
27
@26, The law is not going to treat those objects any differently. All are normally "less than lethal" weapons, but in the right circumstances could be considered and construed as deadly weapons (RCW 9.94A.825). Hit someone with the base of one of those traffic cones and you can cause a concussion. As video from Baltimore shows they can be used effectively to break auto and other glass (the base is heavy and hard). A flash bang, undetonated, could cause a concussion, just because its a spherical, heavy object. Detonated in close proximity to the skin causes the wounds we have seen pictured.

Heck even an egg can knock someone unconscious. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news… A rock can kill. http://sports.yahoo.com/news/player-dies…

If you play stupid games, you run the risk of winning stupid prizes. Why would you want to open the door for someone (cop or not, the statutes cited apply to both) to lawfully use force against you, even perhaps deadly force against you, by throwing anything at them? See RCW 9A.16.020 and .050.
28
So if people put on riot gear to protect themselves, that entitles others to assault them

@23

Yeah, apparently so.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/06/us/new-yor…
29
@27 yaya, we all know who is entitled to assault people.
30
put wings on idiot protesters who need to get jobs. @1 well stated!
31
@29, So how would you re-word those statutes?
32
@31 the statutes are not the problem
33
@30 ha. the only jobs left are prisoner or prison guard
34
Nope, white man throws something at a cop that white man should get arrested. Stop standing up for white privilege. If the black protesters acted like the spoiled white privelleged asshats who call themselves the black bloc, the fucking national guard would be called in.

Stop it stranger, stop protecting this white privellege bullshit.

And fuck the black bloc. They should at least own up to their privellege and rename themselves to the white bloc.
35
Also of the 16 arrest only 4 where from seattle, so tell me again how these angry white men are different from the other angry white men causing shit up on the hill on the weekend?
36
@32, How so? The statutes permit the levels of force you are objecting to.
37
@27: Do we need to have another fuckstupid discussion about the difference between lethal force and force that has a nonzero chance of causing death?
38
@36 interpretation
39
Harrell needs to Suit Up next year and ride with the cops. He's a ASS! He (Harrell) is stupid to think that because a "protester" is tackled to the ground. That, that singular action caused the rioters to say "Hey, lets break stuff." That's ridiculous on Harrell's part to think and to say that.

The only blame for vandalism, is the person who commits it. Plain and Simple.
40
@38, So how would you change the words of the statute so that the words have definitions that work for you?

@37 The statute authorizes deadly force as justifiable to repel an attack if there is a risk of "great personal injury". Even if it required risk of death, that risk can be demonstrated by merely introducing other cases where the base of a traffic cone thrown or swung in the manner it was in the case in question caused death. But that said, the allegations against these officers is that the force was more that was needed to overcome actual resistance and get the subject into custody without additional injury to the officer. You can't prove that beyond a reasonable doubt and neither can a prosecutor. All that an officer, or a citizen, trying to take the guy into custody is that it was one, of many possible, reasonable conclusions, in light of the facts and circumstances, that the force used was required. I.e. I had to engage in a decisive tackle to quickly get the person who was trying to flee, and surrounded by people, who were a likely threat, into custody. See SCOTUS: Garner. SCOTUS's rulings on this field have been unanimous or near unanimous with Liberals and Conservatives putting aside normal differences to share opinions.

My challenge to you both is come with alternate wording or interpretations of RCW 9A.16.020 and .050 that gets you the outcomes you want with these police (and citizens who have acted similarly and also not been charged) and then apply it to other hypotheticals without unintentionally depriving someone of the right to the lawful use of force when they need it and would be entitled to it. Remember Courts will have to apply whatever you come up with, with all possible fact patterns you can think of, and some you haven't, consistently and objectively moving forward. It is much more difficult than you think.
41
@40 just give everybody a badge and some military weaponry, then we can all hold each other accountable and be granted the same impunity within the us legal structure
42
@41. Read the statutes. We already have it, without a badge. As long as you aren't the instigator, a claim of self-defense is very hard for a prosecutor to overcome. It really isn't a cop thing.
43
@42 The statutes (and precedent) also allow you to be arrested for resisting arrest, or allow you to be charged and prosecuted for assaulting an officer...by holding your hands up to cover your face when they at bashing it in with a baton.

The AG (Satterberg) and Seattles/Washington State's corrupt and notoriously racist court system are complicit with their law enforcement's problems.
44
"Michael Wells, the director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, said the Broadway business community was pleased with SPD's response. He sounded a note of caution, though, about the use of tear gas, which he said forced some people to leave their apartments."

Wow!... Seriously?
45
@42 people are not allowed to defend themselves when cops attack them.
46
If class action suits were brought back, this situation would beg a class action free speech suit brought by those who were intimidated by the SPD use of launched and lobbed projectiles ... those that explode, burn, do deep tissue damage, risk deep vein thrombosis, and would do even worse damage to eyes and other parts of the body when hitting them. I don't want to be intimidated out of my free speech rights as I was this time. The armed violence reputation has been there for some years now, if we begin with the Dorli Rainey experience. I expect the city council will have seen enough, and not want it's police to deploy intimidation any more. Poor choice for a democracy. Way off.