A video featuring a Yakima, Washington, police officer's conduct while breaking up a fight has gone viral after the officer in question kicked a teen in the back after the teen had been pepper sprayed.
What's in the video?
The video, which has been shared on Facebook and has been viewed nearly 300,000 times at the time of this writing, features several officers from the Yakima Police Department intervening in a fight that had broken out Sunday during the Central Washington State Fair in Yakima.
In the video, a police officer later identified as Officer Ian Cole — who has been with the force for four years — can be seen using pepper spray on a 17-year-old teen and kicking him in the back as the teen rubs his face.
Nearby officers shouted "Get on the ground!" as the teen continued to tend to his eyes and face.
The state police department is conducting an investigation into Cole's use of force, and he has been placed on desk duty.
What's happening now?
Gary Jones, the department's interim police chief, in a statement said, “Yakima Police Department has been made aware of a video posting that involves a Yakima Police officer using force while effecting an arrest last night.
“Maintaining public trust is one of our highest priorities, and in doing so, investigators will be collecting all available evidence as it pertains to a use of force review,” Jones' statement added.
Law enforcement also told the Yakima Herald that about 15 people were involved in Sunday night's fairgrounds altercation, and as a result of the scofflaw, four teens were arrested.
It is unclear whether the teen who was kicked was one of the "primary aggressors," Jones told the Herald.
“That's something the investigation will determine,” Jones added.
Following the incident, the department released a statement Monday:
Police officers are often faced with difficult situations that require immediate assessment of circumstances in order to protect the community and themselves. I want to assure our community that use of force reviews are conducted in an objective, meticulous manner that requires layers of oversight. Anyone with information concerning this event is encouraged to contact the department and share what information they may have.
Bill Pickett, a Yakima attorney, announced that he would be representing the teen who was kicked at the fair.
Pickett told the Herald that Cole involved displayed "abusive and unacceptable conduct by an officer" and plans to file a claim against the city on the teen's behalf.
“The family wants justice,” Pickett said. “They need to know that they are heard, and they need to know that this type of conduct is wrong and they need to know that this is going to stop.”
He added that the department should utilize a "citizen review panel" to look into the incident.
“What they need is a citizen review panel put together in this community and hold these people accountable when there’s misconduct instead of the police saying ‘We’ll investigate it ourselves.’ That doesn’t work,” Pickett explained.
Jones responded by saying that the investigation will include officers from outside the department.
“To have third-party oversight of every use of force investigation would be problematic and I don’t know how we would get that together,” Jones responded. “In this matter we do have a review team composed of components outside the department.”
Pickett also added that the teen was victimized twice on Sunday night at the fairgrounds — once during the fight, and once by Cole. The attorney explained that the teen and his family and friends were in attendance at the fair when they were accosted by a group of youths.
“He was punched in the head and he was punched in the body,” Pickett said. “He was trying to protect himself and his family.”