Seattle Police Officer Eric Faust, seen in newly released dash cam video punching a hit-and-run suspect, is a decorated officer in the department.
In 2009, he won SPD's Medal of Valor for his bravery in an incident at 20th and Jackson. Faust was thrown from his patrol car when he used it to stop an unoccupied runaway vehicle. After falling to the ground, he chased down two suspects and brought them into custody.
But a King County probation officer had a very different impression of Faust after an encounter with him in 2008.
"I showed him my ID, just like this," said Yvette Gaston, who has been a probation officer for 5 years. "I said, 'My name is Yvette Gaston and I work for King County juvenile courts.'"
Gaston says in 2008 she arrived at an arrest scene to talk to officers who were taking a teenage boy into custody for jaywalking. The boy was under her supervision. She remembers Faust being inexplicably rude and aggressive.
"He was just in my face and really aggressive," said Gaston. "Like he wanted to see the fear in me and wanted me to break down and start crying."
Gaston was acquitted of assaulting an officer. She sued the city for the way officers treated her and won a $20,000 settlement.
But experts caution not to rush to judgment when watching the newly released surveillance video.
"It's a very complex event," says Dr. Matt Hickman, criminal justice professor at Seattle University. Hickman is conducting an ongoing study of SPD's use of force.
Hickman said there is much the dash cam video doesn't show, like what preceded the event and the suspect's disposition, who police say spit at the officers.
"It's assault, and it's dangerous in terms of the transmission of biological fluids," said Hickman. "The officer has a right to do what is reasonable and necessary to stop the assault."
Don Van Blaricom, former Bellevue police chief, also noted Faust's aggressive behavior in the video, especially compared to the other two officers.
Ron Webber, a former police officer and criminology professor in Fresno, Calif., watched the video and said it appears Faust loses his temper during the incident, like he was trying to provoke an altercation. He also said Faust's decision to put his hands on the suspect's face is not a trained technique.
The Office of Police Accountability is investigating the Oct. 6 incident.