SPD Official On Use of Force Video: We Need to Grow Up
The officer, seen with the backpack, is seen kicking the suspect on the floor in this image from surveillance footage
Seattle Post Intelligencer via YellowBrix
November 19, 2010
SEATTLE – A top Seattle police official said Thursday said department officials are open to the possibility of a criminal investigation of an officer who was recorded repeatedly kicking a 17-year-old who during an October arrest.
“I think we have to grow up a little bit and recognized that we are in a video age,” Deputy Chief Clark Kimerer said. “Nothing that an officer does goes unnoticed.”
The ACLU has called for a federal investigation of the department, saying it is concerned about violent incidents against people of color.
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Rich O’Neill defended the officer, saying he made repeated orders for the teen to get on the ground.
O’Neill, a police sergeant, also said the command staff should get a gun and badge and get back in a patrol car, which might stop what he called “Monday morning quarterbacking.”
The incident happened Oct. 18 at Joe’s Mart near Second Avenue and Pine Street. The 17-year-old was one of four people charged with first-degree attempted robbery for an incident that happened shortly before his controversial arrest. During that incident, investigators say, an undercover officer was assaulted during a failed drug bust.
A fifth man also has been charged has been charged with conspiracy to deal cocaine in the incident.
“I think our officers often times in the heat of the moment – and obviously we’re dealing with something as emotional as watching their fellow officer be pretty savagely beaten — are going to forget the details of the realities that we live in,” Kimerer said. “Our officers can not afford to give in to emotions.”
The officer who kicked the teen, a 10-year department veteran who was working undercover the night of the incident, has been sent home on administrative reassignment.
He was placed on reassignment Wednesday afternoon, following Kimerer’s and Deputy Chief Nick Metz’s viewing of the video. See video of Kimerer’s comments below.
The department had the surveillance video as part of the investigation. Among the questions raised is why top department officials were not made aware of the recording before being alerted by the department’s media unit.
KIRO/7 contacted the department’s media unit for comment on Wednesday. KIRO and other local news stations posted the video online late Wednesday.
Kimerer said investigators need to do a more complete evaluation of the available evidence. He noted the video does not have sound and that there may be more to the incident that what is shown on the video.
“Based upon what I saw, my professional discerning judgment told me that this might be a case where the use of force was potentially excessive,” he said.
Kimerer said department officials are “open to the potential and necessity to look at this from a criminal referral standpoint.”
“That decision has not been made at this time. Again, we need a lot more information and evaluate a lot more evidence before we make that step. But we’re clearly prepared to do that if necessary.”
Undercover operation leads to arrest
The 17-year-old who was kicked multiple times is one of four people charged with first-degree attempted robbery in the drug bust gone bad.
Seattlepi.com does not typically identify suspects unless they’re charged as adults. The others charged in the Oct. 18 incident are Alexi Giovanni Selivanoff, 18; Freddie Lee Brooks Jr., 22; and Darius D. Yearby, 20. A fifth man whom police say was involved in the incident, Bryant Douglas Crews, 41, has been charged with conspiracy to deal cocaine.