On May 31 a person riding the Route 7 bus southbound shot a video of two Seattle Police Department officers forcing a man to his stomach by punching him, kneeing him, and hitting him three to five times with a baton. The video appears to show both officers kneeling on the man. At one point, one officer’s knee appears pinned right on or near the man’s neck. The video does not show what led up to the incident, though officers did arrest the man for felony arson.

Deeanthony Marcell took the video at about 1:30 pm May 31 as the bus slowed down to pass the incident. The King County Metro bus operator also reported to dispatch that he saw police fighting with someone, and that their cop cars had partially blocked the road. 

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Marcell said that as the bus drove past the stop on Rainier Avenue South and Andover Street, he saw two SPD officers struggling with a man. “Before I pulled my phone out they were already beating him bad, I think he might have even got slammed,” Marcell said. 

Marcell captured the rest of the incident in a video posted to Instagram. Throughout the video, the man appears to mostly just be resisting officers by tensing his arms, but he does not appear to be actively fighting with officers. 

After the officers forced the man to his stomach, they appeared to start putting him in handcuffs. The man on the ground yelled “police brutality” at one point, and he kept yelling throughout the arrest until a few seconds before the bus drove away. As the sergeant continued to kneel on him, the man went quiet. 

Marcell said the actions of officers looked excessive. 

SPD officers arrested the man for felony arson. According to the probable cause statement, King County Sheriff’s Deputies had previously evicted the man from a house located behind the bus stop, and he had returned after the eviction. The property owners called police after he allegedly hit one of them with a cane. The owner reported that the man had tried to set the house on fire by holding a lighter against the boards of the front porch and lighting sticks and pushing them through the building’s windows.

According to an SPD spokesperson, an officer’s note claims the man said that if anyone threw out his belongings, then he would hurt the cops. SPD officers have not yet referred the case to King County prosecutors for a charging decision.

SPD has not identified either of the officers involved in the arrest, though the probable cause statement shows Officer Cody V. Alidon as the arresting officer. 

SPD policy allows officers to use force, such as hitting, punching, knee strikes, and batons in order to arrest someone as long as officers use necessary and proportional force. Officers may not kneel on a person’s neck, though it’s unclear if that’s what happened in this video. 

An SPD spokesperson said the department would have a statement Tuesday regarding the video, but they have not sent that along by the time of publication.

UPDATE: SPD Interim Chief of Police Sue Rahr released a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that the Office of Police Accountability has started an investigation into the video and the arrest. Rahr said her staff would also gather information to give her, "a more complete picture of the entire incident."