Let’s be clear – it never should have happened.
It, in this case, was another police brutality incident involving officers and gang detectives with the Seattle Police Department. A citizen’s video captured the boot-stomping and a racist threat made by officers in the wake of a downtown robbery investigation.
It all unspooled two weeks ago after police detained a possible suspect in the robbery. The Hispanic male was prone on the sidewalk when first observed on video, an appropriate position given the nature of the alleged crime. That was when a gang detective launched an idle threat, along with the “Mexican” identifier, and the professional demeanor unraveled.
The KIRO news reporter who narrated the citizen’s video indicated where officers stomped on the prone individual’s head and kneecap. Next, an expert in police tactics, ex-Bellevue Police Chief Don Van Blaricom, commented on the incident.
By this time the “story” had gone into full spin cycle.
When I watched the kicks that supposedly connected with the prone individual’s head and kneecap, I saw the individual pull his hand towards his body (a big “No, no” for officer safety). This was followed by a cop’s admittedly harsh boot crunch on the individual’s hand, NOT the head. The alleged kick to the individual’s kneecap by another officer was an assumption, because the officer’s foot was not in view. It could have hit the kneecap, or it could have hit the pavement.
KIRO then showed the video to Van Blaricom, a former chief who now makes his living testifying in civil cases, both for and against police officers, then makes the following statement, “There is never an excuse to step on a subject’s head…”
Never? Not even if a prone subject were reaching for your firearm, or trying to pull a knife out of his boot? There were plenty of salient points to make on this video, but this was neither the right point nor, in my opinion, the right expert.
Again, let me be clear. That video was difficult to watch for several sobering reasons. If anything, it reminds those of us in law enforcement that it takes only one thuggish moron with a badge to stain our honor and tarnish the goodwill built on our dedication, our professionalism and our shared grieving for the brother and sister officers we have lost.
This event was not as bad as KIRO news made it out to be, but it was bad enough.
And we’re better than that.