SEATTLE – The head of Seattle’s NAACP chapter calls the decision to dismiss an assault charge against a Seattle police officer, who was seen on video repeatedly kicking a teen, “a punch in the face to all of us.”
City Attorney Pete Holmes announced last week that the decision was made after an outside expert determined Officer James L. Lee acted properly during an arrest inside a convenience store last year.
The incident happened after police say four people attacked an undercover officer during a drug buy-bust operation in October 2010. Lee tracked the teen to a convenience store. Surveillance video shows the teen standing with his hands in the air when Lee kicked him.
Lee was initially charged with fourth-degree assault. Lee pleaded not guilty in June and had been scheduled to go on trial Jan. 24.
The NAACP said Lee’s testimony has been inconsistent and that he left out important information in police reports on the incident.
“I question whether the city attorney's office or their supposed expert actually reviewed Officer Lee's testimony during the two trials in which several of the kids were found not guilty. I question whether they ever sought to move through and charge this case,” said Seattle NAACP President James Bible Thursday. “At this time, we can’t have any faith in the police to protect us.”
Holmes said he has not ruled out refilling the charge if new evidence comes to light.
Lee still faces an internal investigation by the Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability. That investigation was placed on hold when a criminal investigation was opened.