Videotape shows SPD officer punching young woman



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Posted on June 14, 2010 at 10:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 15 at 11:50 AM

SEATTLE – Only months after Seattle police came under heavy criticism for a video of police stomping on a man, there is new controversy - this time, a video shows an officer punching a young woman in the face after she tried to avoid arrest.

The incident happened Monday afternoon in Seattle's Rainier Valley and was videotaped by a man who heard an argument and pulled out his camera.

Seattle police say the punch came after the young woman became verbally and physically abusive after a jaywalking stop. Seattle police say it all started after an officer observed four women jaywalking across Martin Luther King Junior Way South. When the officer attempted to stop them, voices and tensions escalated. The officer was attempting to handcuff a 19-year-old woman when her 17-year-old friend tried to intervene.

In the video, you can see the 17-year-old push the officer. That's when the officer pulls back his arm and punches the teenager in the face.

Seattle police say the officer believed the girl "was attempting to physically affect the first girl's escape" and when she came at the officer, he "punched her."  As a crowd of people gathered around the officer and suspects, one of the witnesses videotaped the incident. 

Eventually the officer managed to handcuff the first suspect as well as the girl he punched. The 19-year-old woman was booked into King County Jail for obstructing an officer. The 17-year-old girl, who was punched, was taken to the Youth Service Center for investigation of assault on an officer. Both females were cited for jaywalking.

A person who knows both of the suspects and has hung out with the 17-year-old said he's surprised that they were involved in this kind of incident.

"I was like,'Wow, out of everybody,' because the other girl that was with her, those two just don't be down here like that. This isn't even their scene; downtown's their scene. That's just messed up what happened," said Bruce Alexander.

A Seattle Police Department spokesperson declined to review the tape Monday night. However, Seattle Police Department spokesperson Sean Whitcomb told KING 5's news partner The Seattle Times that "punching is part of the repertoire of techniques officers are raught to use when a situation gets unruly." Whitcomb added, "after looking at the police report he does not see anything that would suggest the officer handled the situation inappropriately."

Seattle police said medics looked at both females and "nobody appeared to be injured as a result of the altercation."

This punching incident comes less than two months after another video sparked outraged against Seattle police officers.

In that video, two cops are seen stomping on a robbery suspect. One of the officers used racially charged language against the Latino man, who was later freed while other men were arrested.

That case is still under investigation.