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In a week surrounded by potential police abuse issues across the nation--including homicides and Tasers by officers--a Seattle police officer punches a young black woman in the face after jaywalking in what resembles police abuse of force. Full video attached.
Hours after a Seattle South Precinct police officer received community complaints for the videotaped punch of a young woman at a jaywalking stop, police Union president made his position on that police officer clear--though the police department might have chosen some wiser representation.
The Seattle police department is apparently trying to spin the "protecting the public" claim--that the intersection is so dangerous, it apparently required punching a female jaywalker in the face.
As if police departments across the nation aren't already riddled with reports of abuse--Seattle can add the race card to this one. It just doesn't look good for a white officer to be punching a black woman in a predominantly black area--and when passersby have multiple cell phone cameras already on hand, because they sense something is about to go south, it's a good bet those similar incidents are more than infrequent.
"He [the Seattle Officer] did nothing wrong," claims the Union president. "If anything, I think he maybe waited a little too long to engage in force because I think he was trying to defuse the situation and calm people down and it was obvious from the audio anyway of the two individuals that they were not going to be calmed down. Where, Mr. O'Neill, are you seeing any video or audio portion of the tape where the officer is trying to "defuse" the situation--because that defusement you're claiming isn't on the videos taped and show. And "waited a little too long to engage force"? Force in jaywalking--rather than ticket citation--was necessary why?
"They were not going to comply in any way," claims the police Union president. Hmmm...since the Union rep wasn't physically at the scene or involved, he's capable of making this statement, regarding assumptions pertaining to compliance, how?--perhaps an attorney is more suited--and the Seattle police department's reputation might be better through telling its Union president to keep his mouth closed.
According to the police, which are of course always accurate: About 3:10 p.m. Monday, Officer Ian Walsh saw several people unlawfully cross Martin Luther King Jr. Way South near the arterial's intersection with Rainier Avenue South, according to another Seattle officer's incident report. And why, exactly, did the officer involved in the physical violence not write his own incident report? More interesting, since no other police officers appear in the video at any angle during the incident--where exactly was this other police officer, that he could provide such accuracy and report the scene and occurrences there? According to police, rather than use a pedestrian overpass, a group of people wandered across the busy street -- a street known for years of jaywalking problems. Sounds like a citation issue.
And, if there were a "group" of people jaywalking, where is the remainder of that group--since Officer Walsh only pulled one female. Seattle city Officer Walsh stopped and ordered a 17-year-old black girl to stop--as she walked away from him. When the girl didn't stop, things got a little out of hand for the officer, who tried to pull her physically back to the scene--and that's when all hell broke loose. Apparently sensing things were about to go south, witnesses crowded on the outskirts and switched on video cameras before the violence unfolded-. Before the officer realizes he's being recorded on video, and while struggling to handcuff the young girl, Walsh is telling her "you assaulted me"; to anyone with a legal experience, that's officer talk for "now you're screwed", since assault on a police officer carries far higher charges than regular assault--or even a prison sentence for felony charges. The girl says "no I didn't", when witnesses start informing the officer that he's being taped on video. Video camera footage shows Officer Walsh, a four-year police department veteran, wrestling with the teen girl in an attempt to place her under arrest--arrest for jaywalking.
It would seem Officer Walsh is a little bitter over not having a better beat after four years. Jaywalking probably wasn't his first choice. When another young woman reaches toward Walsh, then at his arm--in efforts for the officer to release the shirt of the first girl--Officer Walsh proceeds to punched the second girl in the face. Fist cocked, full contact.
You are a big man, Officer Walsh--to punch a woman in the face.
A bystander pulls the second woman away as Walsh struggles with the original 17-year-old that he was apparently planning to ARREST FOR JAYWALKING. Both teens were ultimately arrested--jailed and jailed. That's the way to go Officer, work on preventing jaywalking by adding criminal records to peoples' backgrounds--so effective. Surely the police department has pressed Assault charges against the women also--since that seems to be standard protocol for police departments in defending themselves from liability--the old 'offense as defense' trick.
Press Assault charges, so they're a criminal, and lose credibility in Court should they choose to sue you later. The 19-year-old who was punched was released from jail Monday, the 17-year-old a bit luckier with any charges the police want to press, since she's not yet an adult yet.
"Shame on you," said Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle President and CEO James Kelly, who said Officer Walsh overreacted. Gee, what a unique thought--or apparently unique for the police officer. "The use of violence in the form of a full-blown fist to the face was wrong." Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz has--wisely--launched a global review of arrest tactics following the video showing the Seattle police officer punching a teen following a jaywalking stop.
In a briefing with reporters, Assistant Chief Nick Metz said police department officials are withholding judgment on the police officer's actions. Yeah, it's not going to go away--so someone better come up with something. The American Civil Liberties Union, citing Seattle Police Office of Professional Accountability reports, said the Seattle police department has a long history of escalating jaywalking citations into physical force situations. It would certainly seem that way--since you don't routinely hear of Jaywalking arrests as standard procedure in most cities.
O'Neill, the police Union president, claims the Seattle police officer reacted the way he was trained--if that is supposed to ease anyone's mind--and that the only reason the situation escalated was because of the alleged violators' actions. He repeated one question: Why didn't they comply?
Well, rewatching the video over and over, it appears they probably didn't "comply" because force was used from the very beginning, when the officer first pulls the girl off-balance and sideways--the officer's initial interaction was intimidating, and once it goes down that road, people get freaked out. The women weren't running, they were freaked out--probably not expecting to be grabbed.
"You escalate a situation when you put your hands on a uniformed officer -- you have no reason to do that," the police Union president said. "There's no justification to ever do that. And when you make that decision to go down that road then the officer is going to resort to their training." Granted, putting hands on a police officer is a bad path to go down--however, since when is an officer who resorts to his training, trained in punching a person full-force in the face.
It's not appropriate for officers to just walk away when someone is assaulting them because the assailants are clearly a threat to others as well, O'Neill said. In the video, the alleged violators use explicit language insulting the officer.
That's not a defense for your officer, Mr. O'Neill. As a police Union president, you should know it's a bit misleading to be referencing language used as a reason in defending actions of one of your officers: IT IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW TO INSULT OR EVEN SWEAR AT A POLICE OFFICER--so language or insult made to an officer is irrelevant, and does no justify a police officer's actions.
Of course the race issue is another huge factor--but the police Union president has an answer for that too: "The race issue gets old after a while; it really does," O'Neill said, adding Seattle and the community can lose credibility.
Lose credibility for being black? Good thing the Seattle police department can't lose credibility.
Does the Seattle PD not believe it's a better idea to have legal representation speaking instead of a Union rep?
"I am confident that this [police] officer would have taken the exact same action had it been two white males or white females in their 30s that he was trying to stop for jaywalking. … The officer was reacting to the actions of the violators. The officer was not reacting because of their gender, because of their race." And the Union rep knows this how?
"The [Seattle police] officer was reacting because they [the two girls] chose to escalate the situation." Yeah, either that, or he was potentially the short kid in high school that got picked on and is now working to push that "authority" he deserves through a badge.
Defense attorney for the 17-year-old girl, who was not videotaped being punched but was physically restrained by the Seattle police officer, received the Court judge's permission to photograph a bruise on her face, which appeared to be from the police incident. But, who knows, the police may say a bruise was self-inflicted--or maybe the Union rep, who wasn't present, has more insight.
O'Neill's got lots to say after all: "If … they had an abrasion or scrape or whatever, oh well," O'Neill said. "They [the girls] should have thought of that when they put their hands on the officer." While there's certain things a person might think, a smart person knows there's certain ideas to keep to themselves. That's right, O'Neill, those jaywalkers got what they got.
The problem, O'Neill claims, is not with the police or the Seattle police department, but rather with how youth deal with police officers. Well, that theory doesn't seem to be holding up so well in this situation--considering one of your Seattle police officers was caught on video camera, punching someone in the face. It appears that at least half the problem lies with the officer.
If you disagree, "you had your day in court," said O'Neill. "And if the [police] officer treats you poorly, we have an accountability system that's multi-tiered, and you can make a complaint and that complaint will be addressed." Yeah, we all want to walk into a police station to file a personal complaint against an officer in a city we live in--it feels like such a safe idea and all, especially with all those checks and balances in place with police.
The alleged violators declined medical aid at the scene, the Seattle police department claims. O'Neill, who said he didn't consider a black eye severe, added there were no serious injuries. Again, someone really should have reconsidered having him speak.
It seems Seattle residents are wise enough to flip on those video cameras for reason: this jaywalking video arrest arrives on the heels of an April police department incident--where a Seattle police detective was caught on video while stomping on a Latino man laying on the ground.
The Seattle police detective was heard telling the man he was "going to beat the (expletive) Mexican piss out of you, homey." Nice. Seems Seattle police are on a roll.
"I've never turned down an invitation to speak with any group -- I think good things happen when people are talking to each other," the police Union president (O'Neill) said. "But it becomes difficult to continue to do that when you have people throwing out these incredible accusations of it's racism and it's this and it's that when they don't want to take any accountability to say why didn't the two individuals just comply?" How about a talk about why your police officer felt the need to punch a woman in the face.