Face To Face: Punched Teen Says "Sorry" To Officer She Shoved
SEATTLE - Controversial Video Shows SPD Officer Punching Girl Who Pushed Him After Jaywalking Incident
The 17 year old teen seen in that video apologized to the officer who punched her Friday morning.
James Kelly of Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle was there. He says, "This was not about cameras, and charges, and lawsuits and people getting into their own silo's and protecting their own turf: this is about two human beings who might offer the rest of us a chance of learning from a situation which could present itself any time in any neighborhood with any one of us."
He goes on to say in a statement that the teen apologized to SPD Officer Ian Walsh, "I want to personally thank Angel for coming forward to apologize for her part in the situation on Monday over by Franklin High, and I want to thank Ian Walsh for meeting with her and accepting her apology."
This started as a mere jaywalking citation which turned into a shoving match and ended with Officer Walsh punching the 17-year-old girl in the face.
In the video you can see a crowd gather. "This officer was surrounded by an ever growing-group that was starting to form. This could have been a tragedy," says Rich O'Neill with the Seattle Police Officer's Guild.
O'Neill says this was an appropriate use of force. "The officers are trained in boxing techniques, in closed fist strikes. When an officer is knocked off their feet and knocked to the ground, especially with a group that's around, horrible things can happen. People can start grabbing for their weapon or duty belt," says O'Neill.
For nearly two minutes after the officer punches the teenage girl, the video shows her friend continuing to try to break away. He was surrounded with no help from other officers.
"For people to call this some sort of police brutality or racist incident is wrong," says O'Neill.
Former Seattle Police Officer Jason McKissack knows all too well how a simple arrest can escalate into a dangerous situation. He was trying to break up a fight two years ago when the suspects attacked him.
"He was running at me from maybe ten feet away and he does a soccer kick to my face," says McKissack.
"The group turned on Jason and knocked him down. They kicked and beat him. This is what's in the mind of our officers when they're out on the street," says O'Neill.
McKissack isn't on the force anymore. He suffered a traumatic brain injury that's forever changed his life. It's yet another reminder to other officers of what can happen on the job.
"We went through a horrible year here where we had officers brutally gunned down. We've had officers assaulted and officers are not paid to get hurt," says O'Neill.
O'Neill says this incident is a reminder to teens and people of all ages that it is never alright to put your hands on an officer. Assistant Chief Nick Metz held a news conference Tuesday and says he understands why some people might call the officer's actions into question.
"Let's face it, force never looks good. It's never pretty. You have to take into context everything that occurred from the point the officer made contact with the individuals up to the time the situation ended," says Metz.
Metz says Franklin High School asked Seattle police to enforce the jaywalking law outside campus because of all the students that don't use the pedestrian overpass to safely cross the street.
The video was distributed on YouTube and shows the officer trying to restrain a woman when another intervened. The woman who intervened was punched in the face. Officials with the NAACP are calling for the resignation of interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. James Bible, the head of the NAACP, says, "I would hope that he would step away based on this incident and so many others on his own. I think that at this stage that would be the dignified thing to do."
According to the police report, on June 14 an officer saw several people jaywalking on the 3100 block of MLK Jr. Way. The officer stopped a man and while talking to the 18 year old, he saw four women jaywalking at the same street. He then told the females to step over to his vehicle.
The police report reveals the women were "verbally antagonistic toward the officer."
One of the women began to turn and walk away. The officer told the woman 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 woman and began escorting her back toward his car.
According to the report, the woman began to tense up her arm and pull away from the officer while yelling at him. The woman refused to obey the officer's commands to place her hands on the car. When the officer again tried to gain control of her, she pulled away and twisted, breaking free of the officer's grip several times.
At this time a large crowd gathered around the officer. When the officer tried to handcuff the female, another woman intervened. The report says, "The second female subject placed her hands on the officer's arm, causing the officer to believe she was attempting to physically affect the first subject's escape. The officer pushed the second subject back, but she again came at the officer, at which time he punched her. The second subject moved away and the officer was able to handcuff the first subject and place her in the back seat of his patrol car."
The second woman was also handcuffed and restrained.
Both suspects are teenagers. A 19-year-old female was booked into the King County Jail for obstructing an officer. The 17-year-old female who was punched was booked into the Youth Service Center for investigation of assault of an officer. Both suspects were cited for jaywalking.
Seattle police report nobody appeared to be injured as a result of the altercation.
Medics responded to scene and and evaluated the 17-year-old as a precautionary measure.