Hagopian gets maced in the face by the SPD.
Hagopian gets maced in the face by the SPD. YouTube

On Martin Luther King Day this year, an as-yet-unidentified Seattle police officer screamed at and pepper sprayed activist and prominent Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian. A bystander caught the incident on video.

What did the the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) find when it investigated the officer? I've filed a public records request to find out, but for now, there's this summary of its findings on its website, showing that the OPA sustained findings of unauthorized use of force and improper use of pepper spray. The OPA did not agree that the officer singled out Hagopian—who was the on phone with his family at the time—because he is black.

Based on the OPA's findings, Director Pierce Murphy recommended that the officer be suspended without pay for one day and undergo retraining. Chief Kathleen O'Toole agreed with the sustained misconduct findings, but chose instead to impose merely an oral reprimand, along with the retraining.

Credit to Mike O'Dell, a MLK Day protester who was falsely accused by police of assaulting an officer who'd fallen down nearby, for being the first to flag the news over on Seattle's Reddit.

I sense some sarcasm in the top-voted responses:

In June, Hagopian filed a federal lawsuit against the department seeking civil rights damages. "Hagopian says he suffered difficulty breathing, anxiety and stress from being pepper sprayed," KOMO reported, "and he missed some of his 2-year-old son's birthday party as he treated his injuries."

Hagopian and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment. And the SPD didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but I'll update if I hear anything further.

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: SPD just sent over this statement: "The Chief agreed with the OPA's sustained finding and imposed additional training and an oral reprimand for the officer."

This post has been updated since its original publication.