It happened back in 2010 but recently released dashcam video shows Seattle Police Department officers punching a suspect more than a dozen times as they placed him under arrest.
The video, which originally surfaced earlier this year, is the subject of a criminal investigation by the city attorney’s office, according to the police department. KOMO-TV reported that police were called in the first place after two men were accused by a bar of bringing outside alcohol into the establishment. Both the suspects were thrown out of the bar.
The 23-minute-long dashcam video shows two officers conducting a traffic stop with the suspects. The stop appeared to follow in a routine manner for the first five minutes but then seemed to escalate when more family members who were doing custodial cleaning at a nearby bank arrived on the scene. About seven minutes into the video, officers were seen starting to hit and kick one of the suspects as he resisted arrest.
According to KOMO, the officers punched the suspect 17 times. After this suspect was subdued, the video showed one officer go around to the back of the vehicle. The car blocks the view of what exactly happened, but a man was heard screaming.
Eventually all parties on the scene were arrested and the rest of the video shows a routine investigation of the vehicle and officers discussing the situation.
Watch the footage (Content warning: some strong language):
According to KOMO, charges against the suspects were ultimately dropped, but it noted that officer David Bauer in the video was not referred to the Office of Professional Accountability for his use of force.
According to a lawsuit filed by the family, which was settled for $25,000, according to the Seattle Times, the men spoke Spanish and did not understand the officer’s commands.
The police department stated that the video was brought to the attention of the Office of Professional Accountability in May by the City Attorney’s Office. Bauer was placed on administrative leave during a criminal investigation into the video and remains on leave with OPA as it completes its review.
County prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Justice both declined the opportunity to prosecute the officer.
KOMO reported that the county prosecutor’s review stated that the officer did not commit a felony in his use of force because the suspect was resisting arrest. Here’s more from the prosecutor’s office:
However, felony charges are unwarranted because (1) the injuries occurred while the suspect was admittedly actively resisting arrest, and (2) there is some uncertainty as to who caused those injuries.
[T]he only felony level crime that could be prosecuted stems from a scuffle with an officer struggling to arrest a non-compliant suspect. The State cannot file any criminal charges arising out of this incident against Officer D. Bauer – or any other officer who was involved in this incident in 2010. This case is returned to the Seattle Police Department for any additional consideration outside of criminal prosecution.
“During the five years since this incident, much has happened in Seattle,” the police department said in a statement. “The city, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Monitoring Team have worked collaboratively on an ambitious reform agenda. It focuses in large part on use of force and police accountability. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Monitor Merrick Bobb have acknowledged the positive results of this collective effort. There is still much to be done, but the SPD will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to enhance public trust, professionalize the SPD and serve as a national model for police reform.”