The Seattle Police Department announced at a press conference today that it will conduct a review of yesterday's taped incident on the 3100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way S, involving an officer who punched a teenage girl in the face after she shoved him. A cell-phone video shows the officer with two teenagers, one of whom is resisting arrest. The video shows the other teenager pushing the officer, who responds with a quick jab to the face before continuing to subdue the first teen.
Acting Deputy Chief Nick Metz said today while the department will be reviewing the tape, for departmental training purposes, it's withholding judgment on the actions of the officer. "We have questions about his tactics, so he's going to receive additional training," Metz said of the officer, "and we've forwarded the incident to the Office of Professional Accountability. That's all we're prepared to do at this point."
Metz adds that the teenagers in the video also "bear a great deal of responsibility."
"Even if you think that contact from a police officer is unlawful, it is your responsibility to cooperate with it," says Metz. "In the event that you do receive contact from an officer that you think is unlawful, there are mechanisms instated which you can go through."
The incident took place yesterday afternoon on the 3100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way S, adjacent to the pedestrian overpass. According to the SPD blotter, the teens were jaywalking across the busy street instead of using the pedestrian overpass. The officer stopped his patrol car and called the teens over.
"The school district asked us to patrol that area as much as possible because kids cross there, creating a problem," explains Metz.
According to the blotter, one teen ignored the officer and walked away. Then "the officer again instructed her to step over to his car. She continued to walk away and appeared to raise her hand in a dismissive gesture. The officer contacted the female subject and began escorting her back toward his car. The female subject began to tense up her arm and pull away from the officer while yelling at him."
Metz says he doesn't know the officer's intent—whether he planned on just issuing a warning or ticket the teens for jaywalking. "I do know that if the young woman would have stopped and talked to [the officer], we wouldn't be talking now," says Metz. Once the teen resisted, a crowd gathered and cell phones started recording the incident.
Eventually, both teens were arrested—one for the misdemeanor offense of obstructing an officer and the other for third-degree assault on an officer, a felony.